The headlines from the Miami Open this week are of course focused on the quest of Roger Federer to win his fourth Miami title. The No. 4 seed is in the quarterfinals following his 6-4, 6-2 victory over 13th-seeded Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday, a match delayed a day by rain.
But all the talk around Miami Beach’s LGBTQ community has been about what happened before the rains fell on Hard Rock Stadium, when the tournament hosted “Out at the Open,” an event aimed at welcoming the LGBTQ community.
This year’s @MiamiOpen is hosting Pride Night on 3/24 with special ticketed prices, performances by LGBT local DJs and a cocktail reception by @usta’s Diversity and Inclusion dept. pic.twitter.com/j83kDhG8eE— Capital Tennis (@CapitalTennisDC) March 21, 2019
”It’s so fantastic to see a tournament like the Miami Open put on an event like this, in particular with James Blake, a former top 5 player in the world and a leading name in the sport, being a part of it himself,” out tennis commentator Nick McCarvel told Outsports.
Blake, the tournament director, spoke during a Q&A session about Sunday’s event and the tournament’s new locale: the home of the Miami Dolphins.
“Through the new location of the Miami Open, we wanted to create an event and a space that would not only be welcoming, but additionally would unite the LGBTQ community,” Blake said. “Sports is a great equalizer, in terms of class, gender, sexual orientation, everything… it can bring people together. Through great relationships fostered by the Miami Dolphins diversity and inclusion initiative of Football Unites, we were able to reach out to some amazing organizations that shared the same vision, and together successfully create Out at the Open.”
In addition to the Dolphins, community partners for the event included the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the Aqua Foundation for Woman, Empower U, Gay & Lesbian Tennis Alliance, Hialeah Pride, Miami Beach Pride, Pridelines, SAVE and 4Ward Miami (Gay8 Festival) as well as the South Florida Tennis Club and Miami Mavericks Tennis.
Those in attendance rocked out to tunes spun by DJ Citizen Jane, and enjoyed drinks and appetizers sponsored by the United States Tennis Association Diversity and Inclusion department.
”The sport as a whole is serious — from a professional level to grassroots fans — about being inclusive and accepting,” McCarvel told Outsports. “Full credit to the USTA D&I team to making this happen, as well.” McCarvel tweeted similar kudos to the diversity and inclusion folks.
Huge props to @MiamiOpen for hosting a LGBTQ+ pride event Sunday in collaboration with @usta D&I. Nearly 500 fans in attendance, with a private reception and Q&A with TD @JRBlake.— Nick McCarvel (@NickMcCarvel) March 27, 2019
Event done in conjunction with @MiamiDolphins’ Football Unites program #LGBTennis (1 of 2) pic.twitter.com/qH2gdXId4z
And as McCarvel said, it’s not just the USTA, but the social justice initiative Football Unites begun by the Dolphins.
“These efforts and initiatives align with the Miami Dolphins’ mission of ‘Teamwork at Work’ — an effort to level the playing field through the power of teamwork to inspire a healthier, more educated and united South Florida community,” the team said in a statement. Team owner Stephen Ross and his Dolphins players are credited with creating the Football Unites program, according to the statement, “as a catalyst to bring positive social change, uniting groups of different races, genders, sexual orientations, identities, abilities and faith around the power of football.”
As Baseline.com reported, former world No. 64 Brian Vahaly is the most high-profile player on the ATP to come out publicly.
As for the tournament itself, and Roger Federer, the 20-time Grand Slam winner, his challenge now that he has made the quarterfinals is to win four times in the next five days, beginning Thursday night with No. 6 seed Kevin Anderson. At age 37, Federer is back in fine form after recovering from his latest injury, a hurt knee that kept him off the court for six months.