With a 6-7, 6-1, 6-2 win in the final over her American competitor Shelby Rogers, Daria Kasatkina of Russia sealed her comeback title at the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif. For the first time since 2019, she has claimed a spot in the Top 10 in the WTA rankings — a new career high at No. 9.
It hasn’t been an easy road to the title at this year’s San Jose tournament, in which Kasatkina had to overcome a field of players including world No. 3 Paula Badosa and No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka, as well as this year’s Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.
But this victory, her first of 2022, was especially sweet as she shared the spotlight of the trophy ceremony with her girlfriend, Olympic figure skater Natalia Zabiiako.
Zabiiako, who had been front and center in the players’ box this week supporting her girlfriend at her matches, has also made several posts celebrating Kasatkina’s achievement. Since their debut as a couple on social media, coupled with Kasatkina’s recent public interview on her experiences being out in Russia, the tennis star’s performance on the court speaks to how coming out may have released a certain weight off her shoulders.
“I feel more free and happy,” she told Courtney Nguyen last week for WTA Insider. “I think I made the right step.”
Beyond being able to live authentically for herself, Kasatkina has also shared what her coming out has meant to tennis fans around the world.
“I’ve just heard very good things,” she said. “Not just from the West but also people from my country. I’m really happy about it. As I saw, it was not just a good thing for me, also it helped other people. That’s great and I feel great. I feel happy about it and about myself and that’s most important.”
Fellow tennis players Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka have both shared their words of support with WTA Insider in the wake of Kasatkina’s coming out, reflecting on her bravery and the need for vocal allies in the sport.
“I think in tennis, at least with the girls around, we’re all very supportive of each other no matter the background or identity,” Gauff said. “I don’t think there’s any judgment when it comes to that. I’m grateful that she felt comfortable enough sharing that part of her life. She didn’t have to do that. But I can only imagine how many people in her situation feel inspired by that.”
“I thought it was really amazing how she’s doing that,” Osaka said. “I do think we have to rally to support her because it is a bit of a dangerous situation. But I think in all of that it’s really incredible that she’s coming out and she’s standing for what she believes in. I’m always in support of that.”
"Hard work does pay off and you are an inspiration to a lot of people."— WTARussians (@WTArussians) August 8, 2022
Shelby Rogers only had nice words for Daria Kasatkina in her speech at the Silicon Valley Classic trophy ceremony. ❤ pic.twitter.com/V7QdnLG2Ly
While Kasatkina won’t have any time to rest on her laurels with the Canadian Open already started, fans in Toronto will be able to cheer her on in her first round match against Bianca Andreescu on Tuesday.