The sports world historically does not have a great reputation when it comes to LGBTQ acceptance and tolerance. However, the sport of Tennis stands out as one which has forged its own fascinating and unique history with several LGBTQ players and stories.
Recently, the US Tennis Association created its first-ever tournament with divisions specifically for same-sex couples.
Many of the LGBTQ Tennis stories are not that well known. We need to change that!
To be sure, there is still much progress to be made. Tennis stars such as Martina Navratilova and sports analysts have recently contributed some constructive insights into the course of LGBTQ recognition in the sport (see 'Further Research/Reading' below). Nevertheless, significant milestones have been made by a number of LGBTQ tennis greats. For example, do you know:
- which gay tennis player is considered the greatest male tennis player of all time (winning the US Open a record 7 times, and a career winning percentage of 94%), was nicknamed 'the Oscar Wilde of the tennis world', but was barred from professional tennis when it was revealed he was gay?
- which lesbian tennis player is noted for winning 'the battle of the sexes' which lead to the path-breaking groundwork for the Women's Professional Tennis Association?
- which gay Wimbledon Champion, who followed this with a successful career designing women's tennis clothes, was revealed as a British Intelligence spy after his death?
- who was the first professional tennis player to come out as gay?
- which former professional lesbian tennis player was a partner for 27 years to the first woman in space, lesbian Sally Ride, with the two of them co-authoring several children's educational books?
- who was the first transgender professional tennis player?
- which current lesbian tennis player holds the record for playing in consecutive US Open tennis tournaments (25 successive tournaments)?
In 2015, the United States Tennis Association appointed the first gay man in its history as Chief Umpire for that year's U.S. Open Tennis Tournament - Bruce Littrell..
Past and present LGBTQ Tennis players span the globe: South Africa, Spain, Australia, United States, Paraguay, Denmark, Greece, Jamaica, Czech Republic, France, Israel, Great Britain, Thailand, and Puerto Rico.
These are fascinating stories that everyone should know. Read on to find the answers.
- Sean Burns, United States
- Andres Bustani, United States
- Eleni Daniilidou, Greece
- Casey Dellacqua, Australia
- Gigi Fernandez, Puerto Rico
- Richel Hogenkamp, Netherlands
- Helen Hull Jacobs, United States
- Billie Jean King, United States
- Ilana Kloss, South Africa
- Luksika Kumkhum, Thailand
- Johanna Larsson, Sweden
- Hope Lewellen, United States
- Bruce Littrell, United States
- Hana Mandlikova, Czech Republic
- Conchita Martinez, Spain
- Amelie Mauresmo, France
- Nick McCarvel, United States
- Greet Minnen, Belgium
- Tara Moore, Great Britain
- Megan Moulton-Levy, Jamaica
- Martina Navratilova, Czech - American
- Jana Novotna, Czech Republic
- Tzipora Obziler, Israel
- Tam O'Shaughnessy, United States
- Conny Perrin, Switzerland
- Nicole Pratt, Australia
- Lisa Raymond, United States
- Renee Richards, United States
- Francisco Rodriguez, Paraguay
- Tine Scheuer-Larsen, Denmark
- Rennae Stubbs, Australia
- Bill Tilden, United States
- Ted Tinling, Great Britain
- Simon Thibodeau, United States
- Brian Vahaly, United States
- Alison Van Uytvanck, Belgium
- LGBTQ Cyclists
- LGBTQ Figure Skaters
- LGBTQ Sports Management
- LGBTQ Sports Referees and Umpires
- LGBTQ Professional and Amateur Sports Coaches
- LGBTQ Personal Trainers and Lifestyle Coaches
- Lesbian Football/Soccer Players
- The Community of LGBTQ Boxers
- Professional LGBTQ Mixed Martial Artists
- LGBTQ Presence in the Equestrian World
- The World of LGBTQ Golf
- World Sports Champions Who Identify as LGBTQ