Tennis star Martina Navratilova says gay men still feel oppressed on court – and many are still in the closet when it comes to their sexuality.

The 56-year-old, who has been championing LGBT rights since she came out in 1981, said she knew that there were professional male tennis players who were gay – but none would go public.

Speaking with sports broadcaster Clare Balding at the weekend launch of Pride in London at St James Theatre, Victoria, she said that there were far more openly gay women in sport than men  – and that it was harder to be out in the sports industry for gay men than in the world of entertainment.

She said: “In the entertainment guys have an easier time coming out than women. In the sports world we have had a lot more women coming out than men.

“In the US we only have Jason Collins who has come out, the basketball star. So, I don’t know.”

She added: ‘It is more difficult in team sports as you may not get to play. But that does not explain why there are no gay male tennis players at all.

“We know they are there, but they are so far in the closet I don’t know who they are.”

Martina Navratilova was one of the first openly gay sports figures and says she has gave up millions of dollars in endorsements and sponsorships because of her honesty.

The Czech-American, who has retired from tennis, campaigned against homophobia in sports for three decades.