Tennis-Russia’s Kasatkina feels ‘more free and happy’ after coming out as gay

(Reuters) – Russian Daria Kasatkina said she feels more “free” since coming out as gay last month as support poured in for the women’s world number 12 from her fellow players.

Kasatkina said last month that she was inspired to come out after Russian soccer player Nadya Karpova revealed she was gay in a country where homosexuality is frowned upon.

Russia’s existing “gay propaganda” law, passed in 2013, has been used to stop gay pride marches and detain gay rights activists.

“I don’t know how the social media filter works, but I’ve just heard very good things,” said Kasatkina, whose girlfriend, Olympic figure skater Natalia Zabiiako, has been cheering for her at the Silicon Valley Classic in California this week.

“I’m really happy about it. As I saw, it was not just a good thing for me, also it helped other people.

“I feel more free and happy. I think I made the right step. With the situation in the world, all this stuff that is tough, when if not now?”

Former women’s world number one Naomi Osaka, who has spoken out about racial injustice and police brutality, said it was “really amazing” to see Kasatkina take a stand.

“I do think we have to rally to support her because it is a bit of a dangerous situation,” the four-time Grand Slam champion said.

“But I think in all of that it’s really incredible that she’s coming out and she’s standing for what she believes in. I’m always in support of that.”

American teenager Coco Gauff, who took an active role in the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, said she was “super happy” for Kasatkina.

“I think in tennis, at least with the girls around, we’re all very supportive of each other no matter the background or identity,” Gauff said.

“I don’t think there’s any judgment when it comes to that.”

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Peter Rutherford)

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