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French Open has three openly gay women, zero (as usual) men

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2018 continues a trend.

Tennis: French Open
Richel Hogenkamp lost in the Round of 128 to Maria Sharapova.
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Round of 128 update: Two of the three openly gay players lost.

Alison Van Uytvanck beat Isabelle Wallace in straight sets, 6-1, 6-0. Van Uytvanck will play 11th-seed Julia Gorges of Germany on Thursday.

Richel Hogenkamp lost to 28th-seed Maria Sharapova, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, while Johanna Larsson lost in straight sets to Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-4,6-3.

Original story:

The French Open will have three openly gay female players when the tournament’s main draw starts in Paris on Sunday. There will be no openly gay male players, as has always been the case in the sport.

Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck (ranked 46th), whose girlfriend is also a pro tennis player, will play Isabelle Wallace in the field of 128 at Roland Garros. Johanna Larsson (ranked 97th) of Sweden, who has been in the Top 100, will be the second gay player in the round when she meets Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the U.S.

Openly gay Dutch player Richel Hogenkamp (ranked 134th) made the main draw by winning a qualifying match that was played early Friday U.S. time.

While the numbers of current out LGBT female tennis players is low, it’s still better than the men. There are no openly gay men on the pro tour and there never has been. Only one man ever ranked in the Top 100 — American Brian Valhaly — has come out in retirement in the modern era. (Bill Tilden, a superstar in the 1920s, was known to be gay but never out in the modern sense.)

In contrast, tennis (and sports) legends Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova both played openly as gay, even if it wasn’t necessarily by their choice at the time. Both continue to be outspoken advocates for LGBT rights.

American Gigi Fernández was also openly lesbian and was so good she is in the International Tennis Hall of Fame, as is Jana Novotna, the late Czech great who won Wimbledon. In this century, France’s Amelie Mauresmo, who was out, won Wimbledon and the Australian Open and an Olympic silver medal.

In so many sports, out LGBT women have been more prominent than their male counterparts, with tennis being a perfect example.