Sport

Russia’s number one tennis player Daria Kasatkina bravely comes out as gay

Josh Milton July 19, 2022
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On the left: Daria Kasatkina moments from hitting a tennis ball. On the right: Daria Kasatkina and her girlfriend, Natalia Zabiiako, pose for a selfie

Daria Kasatkina has come out as gay and is dating a Russian Olympian. (Getty Images/Instagram/@ kasatkina)

Russia’s top tennis player Daria Kasatkina has come out as gay and revealed she is dating Russian Olympic figure skater Natalia Zabiiako.

Kasatkina, 25, broke down in tears as she shared her truth in a lengthy YouTube interview with Russian vlogger Vitya Kravchenko on Tuesday (19 July).

The world’s number 12 player, who is currently not living in Russia, then uploaded an adorable photograph of her and Zabiiako together on her Instagram.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Daria Kasatkina🐬 (@kasatkina)

While she captioned it with a purple love heart, Zabiiako did the same on her page with a yellow love heart.

“Living in the closet is impossible,” Kasatkina told Kravchenko in Barcelona, Spain.

“Not for the long run, no. It is too hard. It is pointless. You will be completely focused on that until you choose to come out.

“Of course, it is up to you to decide how to do it and how much you tell.

“Living in peace with yourself is the only thing that matters, and f**k everyone else.”

For one of the most high-profile sportspeople in Russia to come out as gay is a daring act considering that LGBTQ+ Russians face fierce discrimination.

The federal government’s so-called “gay propaganda” ban outlaws the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors, all but silencing the Russian LGBTQ+ community. Russian deputies have since announced plans to extend the ban to cover adults as well as young people.

And Daria Kasatkina knows this well – she said she would “never” hold her girlfriend Zabiiako’s hand in public. “Judging by how things are going there, it will never be OK,” she said.

“So many subjects are taboo in Russia, some of them more important than ours, it’s no surprise,” added Kasatkina.

“This notion of someone wanting to be gay or becoming one is ridiculous. I think there is nothing easier in this world than being straight.

“Seriously, if there is a choice, no one would choose being gay. Why make your life harder, especially in Russia? What’s the point? It is important to talk about these things. It is important for young people who have a hard time with society and need support.

Daria Kasatkina returns the ball to Poland's Iga Swiatek
Daria Kasatkina said she would ‘never’ hold her partner’s hand in public in Russia. (ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

“I believe it is important that influential people from sports, or any other sphere really, talk about it. It helps.”

Kasatkina said she was inspired to come out after Russian footballer Nadezhda did just that in June. “Not only did Nadya help herself by coming out and get this burden off her chest, she has also helped others,” Kasatkina said.

“I believe it is important that influential people from sports, or any other sphere really, speak about it.

“It is important for young people who have a hard time with society and need support.”

With the semi-finals of this year’s French Open ahead of her, tennis players and officials rallied around Kasatkina in support.

Australian tennis powerhouse Rennae Stubbs called Kasatkina and Zabiiako “QTs” while American tennis player Amanda Anisimova commented love hearts and clapping hands emojis on the Instagram post.

Tennis commentator Victoria Chiesa tweeted: “Living her truth even at such great personal risk. Saying I respect her for this would be downplaying it.”

While tennis presenter Nick McCarvel wrote: “Courageous, frank, open and honest — we salute you @DKasatkina.

“Living your full truth isn’t easy for anyone, but for some it’s much, much more challenging.

“Don’t stop, Dasha.”

More: Russia, tennis

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