The French Open has started in Paris this week with the qualifying round, and the tournament is already notable for there being seven out LGBTQ players, considered a record for a major. All seven are women.
On a depressing note, the event will once again have no out male players, not a surprise since there are no out gay or bi men on the tour.
The seven out LGBTQ players are Alison Van Uytvanck, 28, of Belgium, ranked 61 in singles; Greet Minnen, 24, of Belgium, ranked 84; Sam Stosur, 38, of Australia, set to play doubles; Demi Schuurs, 28, of the Netherlands, ranked 14th in doubles; Emina Bektas, 29, of the U.S., who lost in singles qualifying; Richel Hogenkamp, 30, of the Netherlands, who lost in singles qualifying and Conny Perrin, 31, of Switzerland, who lost Wednesday in the second round of singles qualifying.
The historic nature of that many out players is not lost on Nick Lee, a former college tennis player at Vassar who is openly gay and who was instrumental in compiling this list.
“It’s possible that there were actually this many, if not more, out women playing in tournaments in recent years,” Lee said. “But there may have not been much national or international coverage on those individuals. That being said, I don’t think it’s ever been widely noted that there are seven out women currently competing in qualifiers and/or the main draw of a grand slam tournament.”
As for the men’s side, we have written at length about the absence of out male players (the best theory as to why came from a gay former college player), but at least there are LGBTQ allies among top men’s players.
“I know obviously within men’s tennis — is it a taboo?” British player Liam Brody said earlier this year when he wore Pride laces at the Australian Open. “I don’t think it’s really a taboo, but I’ve seen questions before about why there aren’t any openly gay men on the tour, and I just wanted to kind of voice my support in that general area.”
“I think everybody would be super open if somebody would come out on the ATP Tour,” said Daniil Medvedev of Russia at last year’s U.S. Open, which sponsored a Pride initiative. “I think it’s great for the U.S. Open, this initiative.”
Will a ranked male tennis player ever come out? If it can happen in the NFL and NBA and pro soccer there is hope, but for now, all the action and praise goes to the women.