As someone who has been guilty of using the phrase “...because 2020” on a regular basis throughout this year, I think the best way to head into 2021 is to end December with the most un-2020 story possible.
And while Googling phrases like “Megan Rapinoe rescues puppies” or “new vaccine discovered in Tom Daley’s smile” has turned up nothing so far, there is this bit of uplifting LGBTQ sports news:
Belgian tennis power couple Alison Van Uytvanck and Greet Minnen got engaged on Christmas Eve.
Both players revealed their real-life “Happiest Season” announcement on their respective Instagrams, posting a picture proudly displaying their engagement rings with Van Uytvanck’s arm affectionately wrapped over Minnen’s shoulder. They also cemented their commitment to each other with an on-camera kiss.
The choice of platform was appropriate as the two Flemish tennis stars originally revealed their relationship via Instagram in January 2018, when Minnen posted a photo of them as a couple with the caption “Two years in love with you.” Since then, adorable professions of devotion have been a regular feature on both players’ accounts.
During the 2019 US Open Pride Day, Van Uytvanck revealed that this was decidedly intentional, telling a panel:
“I think we did that because we are so happy together and we just wanted to show the world that. We just realized, ‘We are lesbians and who cares?’ We wanted to show just how happy we were and we used every platform. We hope we can inspire others to come out at their own tempo.”
Minnen and Van Uytvanck even faced off against one another in the first round of a July 2019 WTA tournament in Karlsruhe, Germany. Van Uytvanck took the match in three sets and when the two met at center court at its conclusion, this happened:
If no one has greenlit a screenplay based on this moment titled “15-Love is Love,” why does the Hallmark Channel even exist?
According to Tennis World’s Lorenzo Ciotti, both players saw a massive jump in social media popularity following their post-match kiss. Van Uytvanck remembered:
“We didn’t understand the reason for all that media exposure for a simple kiss, but the incredible hustle and bustle also had positive implications: about a month later in New York, a man approached us to thank us, letting us know that our gesture had encouraged people to declare their homosexuality publicly, taking a great weight off their shoulders.”
Incidentally, that man was former Vassar tennis player Nick Lee, who wrote about running into Van Uytvanck and Minnen at Grand Central Terminal while covering the U.S. Open for Outsports. As Lee recounted, after he told the couple how they inspired him, Van Uytvanck opined “that she wished more people, including men, would come out in professional tennis. I responded that I could not agree more...”
After inspiring players like Lee, Minnen and Van Uytvanck are now taking the next big step in their relationship public as well. Let’s hope that joyful news like this marks the beginning of the phrase “...because 2021.”