The tennis world is showering Daria Kasatkina with love after she publicly came out as gay on Tuesday morning (AEST).
Kasatkina, the No. 1 ranked women’s player in Russia and the world No. 12, announced the news in a lengthy YouTube interview with Russian vlogger Vitya Kravchenko. She also uploaded a photo to Instagram confirming her relationship with Russian Olympic figure skater Natalia Zabiiako.
Watch Tennis Live with beIN SPORTS on Kayo. Live Coverage of ATP + WTA Tour Tournaments including Every Finals Match. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
“Living in the closet is impossible,” Kasatkina said.
“Not for the long run, no. It is too hard. It is pointless, you will be completely focused on that until you choose to come out. Of course, it is up to you to decide how to do it and how much you tell.
“Living in peace with yourself is the only thing that matters, and f*** everyone else.”
Kasatkina, who advanced to the semi-finals of this year’s French Open, made the revelation about her personal life despite same-sex relationships being frowned upon and described as “taboo” in Russia — lamenting the fact in this day and age, Russians should feel worried about embracing their true selves.
Russian parliament recently met to amend a law making all “gay propaganda” illegal, while existing legislation prohibits the “promotion” of same-sex relationships in the country.
“So many subjects are taboo in Russia, some of them more important than ours, it’s no surprise. This notion of someone wanting to be gay or becoming one is ridiculous. I think there is nothing easier in this world than being straight,” Kasatkina said.
“Seriously, if there is a choice, no one would choose being gay. Why make your life harder, especially in Russia? What’s the point?
“It is important to talk about these things. It is important for young people who have a hard time with society and need support.
“I believe it is important that influential people from sports, or any other sphere really, talk about it. It helps.”
Asked if it would be OK to hold hands with her girlfriend in Russia, Kasatkina said “never”.
“Judging by how things are going there, it will never be OK,” she added.
Kasatkina said she was inspired by Russian football star Nadya Karpova, who came out as gay earlier this year.
“My respects to Nadya Karpova. I was happy for her, but also other people, especially girls who needed to know that,” Kasatkina said.
“It has empowered them for sure, supported them.
“Not only did Nadya help herself by coming out and get this burden off her chest, she has also helped others.”
Kasatkina became emotional, breaking down in tears when suggesting she may not be allowed to return to Russia now she has come out publicly.
World reacts to Kasatkina announcement
Tennis commentator Victoria Chiesa tweeted: “Living her truth even at such great personal risk. Saying I respect her for this would be downplaying it.”
Journalist Tumaini Carayol wrote: “Much respect for Daria Kasatkina and her sincerity and honesty.”
Presenter Nick McCarvel added: “Courageous, frank, open and honest — we salute you @DKasatkina. ️
“Living your full truth isn’t easy for anyone, but for some it’s much, much more challenging. Don’t stop, Dasha.”
Tennis writer Chris Oddo said: “Commendable level of openness here from @DKasatkina — of course we gonna like it.”
There were lots of supportive comments on Kasatkina’s Instagram post alongside Zabiiako. Aussie tennis great Rennae Stubbs wrote “QTs” with a love heart emoji, while American tennis star Amanda Anisimova also added a love heart and clapping hands.
Karpova was another who reacted to the news. “I’m so PROUD! @kasatkina you go giiiiirl!!!” the footballer posted on Instagram, with love hearts and a rainbow flag.