Alison van Uytvanck and Greet Minnen are the first same-sex couple to compete in doubles at Wimbledon.
Van Uytcanck is a 59th ranked singles player with nine International Tennis Federation titles and Minnen is ranked 154th with eight ITF titles.
Minnen made her Women’s Tennis Association main draw debut alongside her girlfriend Uytvanck in 2018 at the BGL Luxembourg Open. The couple and tennis partners defeated Vera Lapko and Mandy Minella to win the title.
The couple made headlines last year when Uytvanck celebrated winning her match at Wimbledon by kissing Minnen who was watching in the stands.
The couple who are both from Belgium says that if more people in tennis openly supported same-sex couples it would help more athletes, especially men, to come out.
The only known gay male player who competed at Wimbledon since 1945 is Brian Vahaly who revealed his sexuality ten years into retirement.
Uytvanck and Minnen hope that they can be an inspire other athletes to be open about their sexuality:
“Women are coming out more easily than men. I hope we are something that people can look up to, like a role model to come out,” said Uytvanck speaking to The Guardian.
The pair believe that men might be afraid to come out as they could lose their sponsorship. As there is no high profile openly competing male players in tennis at the moment, athletes don’t know how it could affect their sponsorship. The pair described the response to a same-sex couple competing as “more positive than negative. We represent something different.”
They hope that they can inspire more athletes to open up about their sexuality in the future, especially men.
“There must be some gay men [actively playing] out there. For me personally, [if I were] a man, it would be more difficult to come out [because of the stereotypes].”
Other well known LGBT+ athletes include Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy, Olympic diver Tom Daley and Megan Rapinoe who plays for the US women’s national soccer team. As more and more LGBT+ athletes coming out, hopefully, their visibility will inspire others to follow suit.
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