Billie Jean King: - ‘I Pray Some Day A Male Player Will Come Out And Start Change’ - UBITENNIS
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Billie Jean King: – ‘I Pray Some Day A Male Player Will Come Out And Start Change’

UbiTennis asks the tennis icon what more needs to be done to make the sport welcoming to LGBT players on the ATP Tour.

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Billie Jean King talks to students from Ricards Lodge School and other invites. The Championships 2019. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day -3 Friday 28/06/2019. Credit: AELTC/Florian Eisele

Legendary tennis figure Billie Jean King believes tennis needs to be more accepting in order for a male professional player to come out as gay on the Tour.

 

The 76-year-old WTA co-founder is one of the most prominent members of the LGBT community to ever play in the sport after being outed by a publication back in 1981. Becoming one of the first prominent athletes in the world to do so. Her resume includes 12 Grand Slam singles titles and a further 27 in the doubles.

Since King, there has been a various other LGBT role models in the sport including Martina Navratilova, Amilie Maureasmo, Gigi Fernandez, Sam Stosur and Alison Van Uytvanck. However, on the men’s side it is a somewhat different situation with there being no openly active gay players. A small number have come out after retiring, including former top 100 player Brian Vahaly. In King’s view, the reason for this is down to acceptance.

One of the reasons why men have such challenges is because the other men give them such a bad time,” she replied to a question asked by UbiTennis during an ITF live stream announcing the launch of the Billie Jean King Cup.
“We need to make it accepted and also celebrated when somebody is their authentic self.”

It is unknown as to if there are any closeted male players on the Tour but statistically there is a strong possibility. At present there are more than 2000 players around the world who have an ATP ranking. King has hailed the sport for the positive steps that have been taken over the years with initiatives such as Nick McCarvel’s LGBTennis nights. Although she stresses that it is important to keep speaking out.

“We need to keep breaking down these barriers and I pray that some day the first male will speak out and come out and start change in the men’s side,” she said.
“I must say it is so much better than it was back in the seventies. With marriage equality in some countries it’s huge, it’s changing but we will have a very long way to go.’
“We must keep speaking out and doing the right things. Everyone needs to be kinda good to each other.”

Tennis stars such as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have previously spoken out in support of a player should they decide to come out. In a recent interview with Pride Life, Andy Murray says he has never witnessed homophobia but admits there is a possibility it could happen if players come out.

“I wouldn’t say that I have heard it in the locker room. If more gay men came out it’s something you might see more of potentially,” he said.
“There have been a few things said in articles I’ve read where players have made homophobic comments, but I’ve not been in the presence of anyone when they have made homophobic comments in the locker room.”

King’s call for acceptance of celebration occurred on the same day the Fed Cup was renamed in her honour. It is the first time in history a tennis team event has been named after a female player.

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Updated Entry Lists For Vienna And Nur-Sultan

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The indoor season continues on the ATP World Tour with the Erste Bank Open in Austria and the new Astana Open in Kazakhstan.

 

The Erste Bank Open in Vienna is an ATP 500 and one of the biggest events of the hard-court indoor season. Having a prize money of $ 1.409.510, it regularly shows a very high-level entry list. This year, seven of the top-10 players are committed to play, as Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are just some of the stars in the entry list. Word’s number one Novak Djokovic has received a Wild-Card and will compete as well. John Isner and Fabio Fognini have withdrawn from the main draw.

With the Swiss Indoors Basel cancelled for this year, the Astana Open, an ATP 250 tournament, will be the second event of the week. France’s Benoit Paire, Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic and USA’s Tennys Sandgren will be some of the main draw’s seeds. Richard Gasquet, Laslo Djere and Juan Ignacio Londero have pulled out and they have been replaced by Federico Delbonis, Radu Albot and Egor Gerasimov.

NEWS: Matteo Berrettini and Milos Raonic have withdrawn from Vienna; Taylor Fritz and Hubert Hurkacz have replaced them. Jannik Sinner has pulled out from qualifying.

NEWS: Jannik Sinner has been given a Wild-Card in the main draw of Vienna.

ATP 500 Vienna (AUT, Hard indoor), entry list:
Thiem, Dominic (AUT)
Tsitsipas, Stefanos (GRE)
Medvedev, Daniil (RUS)
Rublev, Andrey (RUS)
Schwartzman, Diego (ARG)
OUT Berrettini, Matteo (ITA)
Monfils, Gael (FRA)
Shapovalov, Denis (CAN)
Goffin, David (BEL)
Carreno Busta, Pablo (ESP)
OUT Fognini, Fabio (ITA)
Khachanov, Karen (RUS)
Wawrinka, Stan (SUI)
OUT Raonic, Milos (CAN)
Dimitrov, Grigor (BUL)
Garin, Cristian (CHI)
Auger-Aliassime, Felix (CAN)
OUT Isner, John (USA)
Coric, Borna (CRO)
Lajovic, Dusan (SRB)
Ruud, Casper (NOR)
Nishikori, Kei (PR, JPN)
Anderson, Kevin (PR, RSA)
WC Djokovic, Novak (SRB)
WC Novak, Dennis (AUT)
WC Sinner, Jannik (ITA)
(WC)
(SE)
Alternates:
IN De Minaur, Alex (AUS)
IN Krajinovic, Filip (SRB)
IN Fritz, Taylor (USA)
IN Hurkacz, Hubert (POL)

Alt.1 Struff, Jan-Lennard (GER)
Alt.2 Basilashvili, Nikoloz (GEO)
Alt.3 Evans, Daniel (GBR)


ATP 500 Vienna, Qualifying:
OUT Fritz, Taylor (USA)
OUT Hurkacz, Hubert (POL)
Struff, Jan-Lennard (GER)
OUT Opelka, Reilly (USA)
OUT Pella, Guido (ARG)

Basilashvili, Nikoloz (GEO)
OUT Evans, Daniel (GBR)
Pella, Guido (ARG)
Humbert, Ugo (FRA)
OUT Cilic, Marin (CRO)
OUT Ramos-Vinolas, Albert (ESP)

Sonego, Lorenzo (ITA)
Edmund, Kyle (GBR)
OUT Querrey, Sam (USA)
(WC)
(WC)
(WC)
(ALT)
(ALT)
Alternates:
IN Nishioka, Yoshihito (JPN)
IN Bedene, Aljaz (SLO)

OUT Lopez, Feliciano (ESP)
OUT Davidovich Fokina, Alejandro (ESP)
OUT Sinner, Jannik (ITA)

IN Pospisil, Vasek (CAN)

IN Herbert, Pierre-Hugues (FRA)
OUT Monteiro, Thiago (BRA)
OUT Caruso, Salvatore (ITA)

IN Balasz, Attila (HUN)
OUT Novak, Dennis (AUT)
IN Giron, Marcos (USA)
IN Gombos, Norbert (SVK)

IN Jung, Jason (TPE)
OUT Karlovic, Ivo (CRO)
OUT Istomin, Denis (UZB)

OUT Rodionov, Jurij (AUT)
Alt.1 Diez, Steven (CAN)
Alt.2 Ferreira Silva, Frederico (POR)
Alt.3 Broady, Liam (GBR)

ATP 250 Nur-Sultan (KAZ), entry list:
Paire, Benoit (FRA)
Kecmanovic, Miomir (SRB)
Mannarino, Adrian (FRA)
Millman, John (AUS)
Sandgren, Tennys (USA)
Bublik, Alexander (KAZ)
OUT Gasquet, Richard (FRA)
OUT Andujar, Pablo (ESP)
OUT Simon, Gilles (FRA)
Paul, Tommy (USA)
Thompson, Jordan (AUS)
Verdasco, Fernando (ESP)
Tiafoe, Frances (USA)
Vesely, Jiri (CZE)
OUT Londero, Juan Ignacio (ARG)
Norrie, Cameron (GBR)
Travaglia, Stefano (ITA)
Moutet, Corentin (FRA)
OUT Djere, Laslo (SRB)
WC Seppi, Andreas (ITA)
WC Popko, Dmitry (KAZ)
WC Skatov, Timofey (KAZ)
(SE)
(SE)
Alternates:
IN Albot, Radu (MDA)
IN Delbonis, Federico (ARG)
IN Gerasimov, Egor (BLR)

IN McDonald, Mackenzie (USA)
IN Kukushkin, Mikhail (KAZ)
IN Harris, Lloyd (RSA)
IN Duckworth, James (AUS)

Alt.1 Ruusuvuori, Emil (FIN)
Alt.2 Sugita, Yuichi (JPN)
Alt.3 Hanfmann, Yannick (GER)


ATP 250 Nur-Sultan, Qualifying:
OUT Harris, Lloyd (RSA)
Hanfmann, Yannick (GER)
OUT Duckworth, James (AUS)
Ruusuvuori, Emil (FIN)
Sugita, Yuichi (JPN)
Popyrin, Alexei (AUS)
Karatsev, Aslan (RUS)
Dzumhur, Damir (BIH)
Donskoy, Evgeny (RUS)
Polmans, Marc (AUS)
OUT Jung, Jason (TPE)
Ivashka, Ilya (BLR)
Safwat, Mohamed (EGY)
Gulbis, Ernests (LAT)
Alternates:
OUT Ito, Tatsuma (JPN)
OUT Ofner, Sebastian (AUT)

IN Istomin, Denis (UZB)
OUT Diez, Steven (CAN)
OUT Ymer, Elias (SWE)

IN Troicki, Viktor (SRB)
IN Broady, Liam (GBR)

Alt.1 Lestienne, Constant (FRA)
Alt.2 Purcell, Max (AUS)

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‘I Love Tennis Because Of Him’ – Argentine Football Sensation Praises Roger Federer

The forward for Juventus F.C. Speaks out about the 20-time Grand Slam champion as well as other topics concerning the world of tennis.

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Roger Federer is used to various public figures praising him for his record-breaking career with his latest compliment coming from a star of Argentinian football.

 

Paulo Dybala, who has played for Serie A club Juventus since 2015, says he always tries to watch tennis because of him. The 26-year-old spoke out about the Swiss Maestro during a video Q and A session with the Tennis Channel for whom he is currently an ‘athlete analyst’ for. When asked ‘who was the player that made you fall in love with the game?’ he replied with Federer.

“Well at home, we used to watch a lot of sports, the TV was always on, and the sport we watched the most was football, followed by tennis,” Dybala said. “I always had a lot of admiration and respect. I liked Roger Federer’s style… I believe that I and many people have him as a tennis reference. We try to watch his matches, he has a style and elegance that makes everyone want to be like him. I always tried to watch him play so I love tennis because of him.”

Although Federer isn’t the only tennis player to have drawn praise from Dybala, who was part of his country’s national football team for the 2018 World Cup. He also speaks about his ‘great relationship’ with Diego Schwartzman. Schwartzman recently broke into the world’s top 10 for the first time in his career after reaching the semi-finals of the French Open.

“I have a great relationship with Diego, I have known him for years,” he said. “We always talk and I am very happy with what he is achieving.’
“I text him after some of his matches to congratulate him for what he has done.”

It was at the French Open this year where Rafael Nadal won the tournament for a historic 13th time in his career after defeating Novak Djokovic in straight sets. Dybala says that there are ‘no words’ to describe the latest achievement by the world No.2.

“Rafael Nadal won Roland Garros in a match in which he gave no chance to Novak Djokovic,” Dybala reflected. “I think it was more than well-deserved to win his 13th Roland Garros in his career. Something amazing. He matched Roger Federer with 20 Grand Slams. There are no words for this player, no words.”

Dybala is currently dating Oriana Sabatini who is the niece of 1990 US Open champion Gabriela Sabatini.

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Dan Evans On The Look Out For New Coach

The 30-year-old has come to a surprise decision to end his current coaching agreement despite achieving a career ranking high earlier this year.

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British No.1 Dan Evans is making a big change to his team after confirming that he will part ways with coach Mark Hilton at the end of the season.

 

The world No.35 reunited with Hilton just last year after also previously working with him prior to his drugs ban in 2017. Under his guidance Evans has achieved several wins over top 10 players, reached his first ever semi-final of an ATP 500 event in Dubai and peaked at a ranking best of 28th in March.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank Mark for his work and efforts over the past 12 months and we are both excited for what is next for each of our respective careers,” Evans said.

Evans’ announcement came on the same day he ended his five-match losing streak on the Tour. In the first round of the European Open on Tuesday he defeated Italy’s Salvatore Caruso in three sets. Making it his first win since the US Open when he defeated Brazil’s Thiago Seyboth Wild.

Hilton will now return to working for the British LTA. A former player himself he reached the semi-finals of the 2009 Wimbledon boys doubles championships and peaked at a ranking high of 202 on the ATP Tour in singles. His best performance at a Grand Slam occurred at Wimbledon when as a wild card he stunned Spain’s Albert Costa in the first round of the 2004 tournament. Besides Evans, he has also previously worked with the likes of Liam Broady and Kyle Edmund.

“After discussing our plans for 2021, Dan and I have made the mutual decision to part ways at the end of November,” Hilton said in a statement.
“Both of us are very proud of our collaboration this year, helping Dan achieve a career-high ranking of number 28, seven wins over top-20 players and reaching his first ATP 500 semi-final.
“I’m looking forward to taking the experience I have gained over the last three years at the highest levels of the ATP Tour and re-investing that back into the LTA’s Performance Team for the benefit of our British players and coaches.”

It is unclear as to who may step in as Evans’ next coach. The Brit will return to action on Wednesday when he plays Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

Evans’ win-loss for 2020 currently stands at 14-11 on the ATP Tour.

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