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2 male pro tennis players posted a loving image of them kissing. What does it mean?

Fabien Reboul and Maxence Broville lit up the internet with their kissing photos. Are they actually gay and in love?

Maxence Broville and Fabien Reboul embrace before or after sharing a kiss. The two are French professional tennis players.

Fabien Reboul and Maxence Brovillé are two professional tennis players who raised eyebrows this week by posting photos of themselves kissing one another on Instagram.

“I did not fall in love with you,” Reboul wrote to Brovillé in the caption of his Instagram story of the two kissing, “your love pushed me to it”.

Brovillé shared an image of the two embraced but not kissing. While Reboul’s post was a story that disappears after 24 hours, the post from Brovillé was, and still is, on his feed.

The Instagram posts, not surprisingly, got people wondering what is going on. Outsports messaged Reboul on Instagram asking if he and Brovillé are boyfriends. The message has gone unanswered.

There could be a few possible answers.

The one getting the most traction (and hope) is that the two are boyfriends and are, in fact, in romantic love. While there are many out women on the women’s tour, there are currently none on the ATP Tour on the men’s side, though various former pro tennis players — most notably Brian Vahaly — have come out as gay.

The other possibility that involves a big “coming out” is that one of them is gay and the other is playing along or supporting him.

While either is possible, the more likely explanation: This was a joke, or in some way genuinely reflecting a bromance-style love and intimacy that seems to be part of the French men’s tennis team.

For starters, this isn’t the first time the players have “flirted” with love and being boyfriends on social media. This image from Reboul refers to fellow tennis player Hugo Gaston as “BAE,” slang for “boyfriend” but also used as a broader slang term:

Gaston has a long-term girlfriend, celebrating an anniversary with her earlier this autumn.

It’s not uncommon for male athletes to get jokey about their relationships with other teammates that have them spending countless hours together. It’s a pretty innocent form of affection-display. Though taking it to Reboul’s kissing post with a “love” message is... a choice.

Sure, the guys also seem to love posting shirtless photos, as they’re both in extremely good shape. But none of that means they’re gay or in love. World-class athletes are generally in great shape, and yes, even straight guys don’t mind showing that off.

Also, look really closely at the kissing photo. While this may be a bit of Sherlock Holmes taking out his magnifying glass, I’m not sure the two are actually kissing on the lips:

Hopefully the two men will open up about what exactly is going on in these images that have gotten so many people speculating.

Earlier this year two former professional soccer players — Iker Casillas and Carles Puyol — joked on social media about being gay and in a relationship, drawing some laughs but mostly scorn for (or so the accusations go) mocking the coming-out experience of athletes.

Reboul is currently ranked No. 54 in men’s doubles, having appeared in three Grand Slams, most recently with partner and fellow Frenchman Sadio Doumbia. Brovillé is currently ranked No. 872 in men’s doubles.

Jim Buzinski and Shelby Weldon contributed to this report.