This year’s Pride Month might look different as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, but the celebration still continues online - and the WTA’s LGBTQ+ stars and allies are posting up a storm of support.
The world observes Global Pride on Saturday, June 27, marking the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in New York City that sparked the beginning of a global LGBTQ rights movement. To celebrate the landmark occasion, the WTA and ATP have joined forces to create the World Pride Day Celebration presented by Tennis United.
Part of the World Pride Day celebration includes a panel hosted by the You Can Play Project, in support of the campaign’s mission to end homophobia and promote inclusivity in sports. WTA player Sharon Fichman, who represented Team Canada on the panel, joined athletes from other sports to discuss allyship, identity, and more.
Tomorrow, 6/27, at 1pm ET catch a #GlobalPride day panel discussion presented by @WTA and @atptour.— You Can Play (@YouCanPlayTeam) June 26, 2020
Listen as panelists discuss allyship, identity, and the skills you develop as an athlete.
Panelists include: @sharon_fichman , @DylanMoscovitch , Jeremy Roskin, and @JVReemer21 pic.twitter.com/cT4OO1jtmR
WTA power couple Alison Van Uytvanck and Greet Minnen featured on a recent episode of Tennis United, opening up on their relationship and their experience as out athletes on the tennis tour.
“It’s amazing that we could share the same passion, play doubles together, and just be partners on and off the court,” Minnen told wtatennis.com. “For us, it’s amazing to do everything together.”
"We should go for it and see what happens - and now we're four and a half years further on!"— wta (@WTA) June 27, 2020
Alison van Uytvanck and Greet Minnen tell #TennisUnited about their relationship ---> https://t.co/mhlTiHAcsG#GlobalPride pic.twitter.com/7vMxN5PxZj
Former ATP player Brian Vahaly, now a member of the USTA board of directors, also joined Tennis United to chat about his experience. Vahaly came out after his career, and has since become a trailblazing advocate for LGBTQ+ players on the men’s tour.
Meanwhile, Billie Jean King took to Twitter to celebrate another major anniversary, and a landmark moment for the LGBTQ+ community in the United States.
King’s partner, Illana Kloss, chatted with wtatennis.com earlier in the month as a part of My Inspiration, a WTA Legends series, where she talked about her relationship with and admiration for ‘the People’s Champion’.
“[I was] afraid of people finding out that I was a lesbian, that we were a couple,” Kloss wrote. “It was tough. Then you get used to it, and that's even worse - it becomes normal.
“Being able to be who we are is a gift we can give ourselves. It's about being free in everything we do. It took a long time for Billie...”
"Many of us tend to gravitate towards people who look like us, sound like us or have the same beliefs, but not Billie."— wta (@WTA) June 27, 2020
Ilana Kloss on her partner and inspiration @BillieJeanKing ---> https://t.co/xJX4wmKB28#GlobalPride pic.twitter.com/33tUlyh5Ng
Demi Schuurs also chatted with wtatennis.com during Pride Month, looking back on her journey to becoming an out athlete and how accepting herself has led to a wealth of success, on the court and off.
“When I was new on the pro circuit, I was shy because you don’t know how people might think of you. They see someone wearing boy’s clothes, and later find out that I have a girlfriend, so it made me wonder what they might be thinking of me,” Schuurs revealed.
“This is something that totally changed because now, they know who I am, what I do, what I have. They know that I’m polite to everyone, and they see that I’m no different from anyone else.”
“I’m able to be a positive role model... because of how I behave on court and treat other people,” she added.
Follow the WTA 4 Love campaign to learn more about how the tennis community is coming together during the COVID-19 pandemic.