Billie Jean King calls Tom Daley ‘very brave’ – thinks it’s ‘amazing’ no male tennis players have come out

Says tennis legend: 'I want our sport to always lead. I don’t want us to be catching up'

Billie Jean King calls Tom Daley ‘very brave’ – thinks it’s ‘amazing’ no male tennis players have come out
18 December 2013

Shortly before it was announced that Billie Jean King would be part of the official delegation representing the US at the 2014 Olympics in Russia, the tennis legend spoke out about gay and lesbian athletes coming out.

While female tennis stars such as King and fellow Wimbledon champions Martina Navratilova, Amelie Mauresmo and Conchita Martinez have been public about being lesbians, no male pro has ever come out as gay.

‘I think it’s amazing that they haven’t come out, if there is one,’ King said to Tennis.com. ‘Is there one? Do we know? I don’t know! I hope they do, if they are.’

Since tennis is such a high-profile sport where its superstars like Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe and others become worldwide celebrities, King thinks such a step would be quite impactful.

‘It would be good because our sport, we’ve been leaders,’ she said. ‘I want our sport to always lead. I don’t want us to be catching up. I want us to set an example for the right thing to do, whether it’s popular or not. That’s what you want to teach kids. It gets rough, but you want to do the right thing. And just know that you’ve got to go for it.’

Until the interview, King had not been aware that British Olympic diver Tom Daley had come out as bisexual in a YouTube video that caused a sensation.

‘How did I miss that? Good for him!’ she said.

Speaking specifically to his claim to being bisexual King said: ‘Some people do have softer boundaries. Right now he’s gay, he’s with a guy. Maybe if he wasn’t with this guy, he’s bisexual. I don’t know. It’s whatever.’

‘He should do whatever is right for him and not worry about the rest of the world,’ she added. ‘He needs to stay true to himself and be his authentic self, whatever that is. Don’t worry about what people say. That’s very brave, though, that he did that. It’s getting a lot easier than it used to be, that’s for sure, but it’s never easy to come out.’

King, 70, was outed in 1981 when a former female lover sued her for palimony. She had been married to a man named Larry King for nearly two decades at the time and lost all of her product endorsements almost overnight.

But she played for two more years on the pro tour before retiring in 1983. King has been in a committed relationship with former US Open doubles champion Ilana Kloss for more than 20 years.

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Asia LGBT Milestone Awards winners named

Winners include Jolin Tsai and IBM 
No thumbnail available

Instagram removes photo of gay newlyweds kissing

Photo sharing website deleted the picture of a married couple kissing because it was 'inappropriate'
No thumbnail available

Gay marriage opponents appeal Prop. 8 case to US Supreme Court

Court to decide after its summer recess whether to hear landmark case
No thumbnail available

Chaz Bono on challenges of being single

'I'm not the most outgoing fella. I'm not one of those guys who can just walk up and start chatting up a girl that I find attractive'
No thumbnail available

Guatemalan trans woman granted asylum in Denmark

Fernanda Milan is finally told she is safe from deportation back to Guatemalan where her trans rights activism puts her life in danger
No thumbnail available

Canadian gay rights activist killed breaking up fight with psychiatric patient

Raymond Taavel died soon after being assaulted breaking up a fight outside a gay bar in Halifax, Nova Scotia
No thumbnail available

Wentworth Miller on why he had been reluctant to embrace LGBT community

'I was filled with fear, anger and a stubborn resistance that had built up'
No thumbnail available

US hides gayness of Pride movie

Promotional material dubbed a ‘betrayal’ of gay film’s central message
No thumbnail available

Pot Noodle advert doesn’t harm trans people, watchdog rules

Advertising body refuses to ban instant noodle commercial showing a man dressed as a soccer star’s wife and promoting ‘piri piri perfume’
No thumbnail available

Gandhi ‘gay’ letters to go on display in India

A rare collection of letters between the icon of Indian independence and his close friend has gone on display