Belgians Alison van Uytvanck and Greet Minnen, are the first same-sex couple to compete in doubles together at Wimbledon.
They are calling for more people to open up about in their sexuality in tennis to help other players, especially men.
‘We [would like to] see more people coming forward and saying “It’s OK”,’ van Uytvanck told media after their win on at Wimbledon on Wednesday (3 July).
‘I think people would have more confidence. Men would appreciate that. More people would come out – it would help to make it easier.’
‘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].’
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The tennis year of 2018 came to an end today. I can look back on a good year. Coming back from no ranking to top 300 again💪🏻 4 itf titles and one wta doubles title which is one I will never forget together with @alison_van_uytvanck ❤️ Thank you to my sponsors who keep supporting me and everyone else who keeps believing in me! Without all of you it wouldn’t be possible! @lottosport @wilsontennis @trisportpharma @toptennisteam
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Gay male tennis players
The only known out male players include Brian Vahaly who came out in 2017, 10 years after retiring from the professional game.
The others included Bill Tilden who played in the 1920s and Gottfried von Cramm. Von Cramm became a target for the Nazis who arrested him for resistance and homosexuality.
Support for a male player to come out is widespread on the professional circuit.
Former Wimbledon men’s single champion, Novak Djokovic, said a top male player coming out would be a ‘courageous move’.
‘It’s everybody’s right to have sexual orientation as they desire, any kind of direction in life they desire. I respect it,’ he said in November last year.
Djokovic added: ‘I don’t see people differently if they come out like that. I actually see that as a really courageous move.
‘We live in a society … [where] certain parts of the world are not ready to accept that.’