Former Player Brian Vahaly Speaks Out About The Challenges Faced By Gay Athletes - UBITENNIS
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Former Player Brian Vahaly Speaks Out About The Challenges Faced By Gay Athletes

The former top 100 player shared his opinion ahead of a special event celebrating the LGBTQ+ community in tennis.



Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and Amelie Mauresmo are just some of the LGBT tennis players who have managed to shine in the world of tennis. Meanwhile, on the ATP Tour it is a very different story.


As it currently stands there are no publicly out gay players in men’s tennis. Something that hasn’t changed despite the development in gay rights over the past 40 years. One of the rare players to speak out about their sexuality is Brian Vahaly. A former world No.64, who won five titles on the Challenger circuit. Vahaly didn’t open up about his personal life until the age of 29 after he retired from the sport.

“The concern back then was about the implications of sponsorships, friendships and more specifically, your experience inside the locker room. You spend a lot of time with other players, and there was a real concern that you would be ostracized for being gay. In the late ‘90s, early 2000s, the vast majority around the world was not in support of LGBTQ acceptance.” Vahaly told Jonathan Scott during an interview for
“I started training at 3 years old to become a professional tennis player, and already felt so much pressure playing at Wimbledon, the US Open, playing against Andre Agassi or another Top 10 player, that it felt like a distraction that I was not ready for at that time.”

Historically, there has been other gay tennis players, but nothing on the same level as their female counterparts. Francisco Rodriguez, who reached a ranking high of 373rd, came out in 2008 after retiring from the tour. Meanwhile 1920s tennis superstar Bill Tilden was also gay, but never publicly declared it due to the perception of homosexuality during that time.

“Tennis is a very individual sport, and you’re isolated for two to three hours at a time. Controlling your emotions is something you’re trained to do, learning how to put your emotions in a box.” Vahaly explained.
“I’m not saying that was healthy, or that there weren’t repercussions to that. It was my reaction at that time. If a player is out there and wants to come out, they may feel isolated or alone.”

The views of other players

Whilst there is yet to be an openly gay male player on the tour, many will not have a problem with it. Earlier this month, 20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer told tennis podcast The Body Serve that he thinks an openly gay athlete ‘would be accepted’ on the tour. An opinion he has also stated on previous occasions.

“Yeah, I think no problem at all,” Federer told The Body Serve. “Yeah, it is true we have not had it. Don’t know why, you know? Have we not had any, or some players have just chosen to not do it? I think it would be totally accepted, no problem.
“I’m all for it, it’s a good thing. It doesn’t matter where you came from, who you are, I’m all for it that you’re open about it. I think you’ll feel better in the process, to be honest, and everybody should support one another on this planet.”

Another to express their support is world No.5 Kevin Anderson. In a Tweet on August 6th, he wrote ‘Words that come to mind when I think about people who are Out: courageous, strong, progressive, fearless and leaders.‘

“Knowing how the top players have their words dissected across the world, and yet they’re still willing to take a stand, is quite powerful.” Vahaly said.
“I played doubles with Anderson when he was just coming on tour. To see him be so accepting of this event while broadcasting his support to his friends, family and fans is very encouraging.” He added.

Open Playbook: Being Queer and Out in Pro Tennis

On Thursday a special event will be held in New York to focus on LGBT athletes in tennis. The brainchild behind the initiative is journalist and TV presenter Nick McCarvel, who will host the event at Housing Works Bookstore in New York’s SoHo area. It will mark the 50th anniversary of the US Open by ‘celebrating the LGBTQ+ community in pro tennis.’ Vahaly will be a member of the panel at the event.

“Brian and I agree on this: Thursday isn’t about asking pro gay players – because we know that they’re out there – to come out. It’s about furthering this discussion. Furthering the chance to talk about gays in sports – queers in sports.” McCarvel wrote in a special editorial for

Those unable to attend will be able to watch it live online. It will be broadcast on the Facebook page of the No Challenges Remaining Tennis Podcast. A podcast run by New York Times Journalist Ben Rothenberg and Courtney Nguyen from the WTA.

The event will get underway at 19:30 (New York time).

Vahaly’s advice to closeted players

“It’s going to be okay. It doesn’t mean there won’t be some friendships that change, and that life won’t look a bit different, but there’s nothing better than being true to who you are. You sort of want to give your old self a bear hug and say it’s going to be okay, and that you’ll have more support than you think. And nobody cares as much as you think they do.”


Hamad Medjedovic earns first place in Red Group at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah



Hamad Medjedovic beat Abdullah Shelbayh 3-4 (6-8) 4-2 4-3 (7-5) 4-2 to earn first place in the Red Group with a perfect 3-0 record at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah. 


Medjedovic needed to win at least one set to reach the semifinals, while Shelbayh needed to win the match in three or four sets. Luca Van Assche qualified as the second-placed player from the Red Group.

Medjedovic will face Dominic Stricker in the semifinal, while Van Assche takes on Arthur Fils.  

Medjedovic fired 18 aces and won 88 % of his first-serve points. He saved all three break points against Shelbayh. 

Medjedovic fired a tournament-leading 45 aces and was broken twice. 

Medjedovic saved three break points to hold serve in the fourth game of the first set. Shelbayh went up a mini-break twice, but Medjedovic pulled back on serve both times. Shelbayh won the final three points to clinch the tie-break 8-6. Both players went on serve in the first five games before Medjedovic earned the break to win the second set 4-2. 

The third set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Shelbayh earned the first mini-break to take a 3-2 lead. Medjedovic pulled back on serve to draw level to 3-3. The Serbian player earned a second mini-break to close out the tie-break 7-5. 

Medjedovic started the fourth set with an early break in the first game. He held on his next service games and sealed the win on his first match point. 

Medjedovic set up a semifinal match against Dominic Stricker. Luc Van Assche will face Arthur Fils in an all-French semifinal.“It was a great match. I played really good after the first set He is a very good friend of mine. He is a very good player and obviously the crowd here loves him and I respect that. It was a pleasure to play in front of the crowd”, said Medjedovic. 

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Dominic Stricker cruises past Luca Nardi at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah



Third seed Dominic Stricker cruised past Luca Nardi 4-1 4-1 4-2 in 54 minutes in the fastest match in the history of the Next Gen Finals at the Next Gen ATP Finals at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah bouncing back from his defeat in the first match against Flavio Cobolli on Tuesday. 


Stricker converted four of his six break points and hit 13 winners, including 3 aces. 

Stricker came back from 15-40 down in the first game after two double faults from Nardi and broke serve with a return winner on the deciding point to take a 1-0 lead. The world number 94 saved three break-back-back points in the second game from 15-40 down before breaking for the second time in the fifth game to win the first set 4-1. 

Stricker broke serve at 30 in the second game of the second set and held serve at love in the third game to race out to a 3-0 lead. Stricker served it out on his second set point. 

Stricker earned an early break in the first game of the third set on the deciding point and held his next service games. Nardi saved the first match point but he hit his backhand into the net on the second match point after the longest rally of the match. 

“We had a long discussion yesterday evening about how to do it today. I think it was really good that we talked a lot after what maybe was not my best performance. Now to come out today like that, I think nobody expected that. I am just happy that I did it and now I am going to try my best to recover for the third group match”, said Stricker. Stricker is now 1-1 in Green Group. The Swiss player is aiming to reach his second consecutive semifinal at the Next Gen Finals. He is looking to crown a good year after reaching the fourth round at the US Open. 

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Jannik Sinner, Arnaldi End Italy’s 47-Year Wait For Davis Cup Title



An in-form Jannik Sinner has secured Italy’s first Davis Cup title in almost half a century after crushing Alex de Minaur in straight sets. 


The world No.4 headed into the crucial match with his country boasting a 1-0 lead over Australia after Matteo Arnaldi won his clash against Alexi Popryin in three sets. Taking on a fiery de Minaur, a composed Sinner surged to a 6-3, 6-0, victory in Malaga to hand his country an unassailable lead and the title. The dominant performance saw Sinner produce a total of 25 winners with 18 of them coming from his forehand side. It is the sixth time he has beaten de Minaur on the Tour and he is yet to lose against him. 

“It helps a lot to play for the whole team,” Sinner said of his latest win. “It has been an incredible thing for all of us and we are really happy.”

Sinner first broke three games into his encounter with de Minaur after the Australian hit a lob shot that landed out. In control of proceedings, he rallied his way to 5-3 before opening up a 40-0 lead against his opponent’s serve. With three set points at his disposal, Sinner converted his second with the help of another unforced error coming from across the court. 

Closing in on the historic victory, the 22-year-old was in clinical form throughout the second frame as he raced to a 5-0 lead in under 30 minutes. Destroying whatever hopes Australia had of a shock comeback. Sinner closed out the match on his third attempt after a De Minaur backhand drifted wide, prompting an almighty smile on his face. 

Thanks to Australia. I know with the new format it is a little bit different to have to all come to one place. it means a lot.” Said Sinner.

In the first match of the day, Arnaldi ousted Popryin 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, in a two-and-a-half-hour marathon. The world No.44, who made his Davis Cup debut in September, held his nerve throughout a tense deciding set where he saved all eight break points he faced. Overall, he hit a total of 40 winners past Popryin and was visibly emotional afterward. 

“This match was very important and emotional for a few reasons,” Arnaldi told reporters. 
“This year for me was the first time playing for my country. I played when I was junior, but Davis Cup is just different.’
“And three weeks ago, an important person passed away. I think he gave me the power to try to stay there (in the match). It wasn’t easy to play, but they gave me the power at the end to try to win.”

It is the second time in history Italy has won the Davis Cup and the first since 1976. The triumph caps off what has been a memorable week for the team who 24 hours earlier beat Novak Djokovic’s Serbia in the semi-finals with Sinner saving three match points against the world No.1 in the singles. 

“I’m really thankful and proud to have these guys,” Italian captain Filippo Volandri commented.
“We have had to manage with a lot of emergencies during these past two years but we did it and we did it like a family.” He added.

Italy, who has become the 11th country in history to win Multiple Davis Cup titles, currently has six players in the ATP top 100 with four of those being in the top 50. 

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