It is June 2019, and it is fifty years since the Stonewall Inn riots took place in the Greenwich Village near Manhattan, United States. As a tennis player, I wanted to leave some words to reflect on coming out and talking about being gay. In 2018, Novak Djokovic said, “it is everybody’s right to have sexual orientation as they desire, any kind of direction in life they desire. I respect that”.
According to Novak Djokovic, even athletes have the right to sexual orientation despite being a pro in the pitch. “A male player coming out would be a “courageous move,” Novak Djokovic added during the ATP World Tour Finals held in London. I never knew there are gay male professional tennis players. As such, the list covers both retired and current gay tennis players.
List of Male Tennis Players That Came Out As Gay
1. Brian Vahaly
Over a decade ago, Brian Vahaly discussed over a decade ago in the Sports Illustrated podcast that he was gay and married Bill Jones and they have twins; Bennet and Parker. Brian Vahaly is an American retired tennis player who turned pro in 2009 and announced his retirement in November 2007. He graduated from the University of Virginia and reached his first career peak in the 2003 Indian Wells Masters in the quarterfinals. He defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero and was listed number 53 worldwide in 2003. He began playing tennis at the age of two and later winning the Easter Bowl 18s title while reaching the Coffee Bowl finals in 1997 as a junior.
Brian Vahaly also participated at Wimbledon the same year finishing seventeenth in the junior rankings. He also sharpened his career while at the University of Virginia playing through the four years between 1998 and 2001. Brian began his professional career 2003 in the ATP circuit season reaching the semifinals after being defeated by Andy Roddick. He went ahead defeating top world players such as Juan Carlos Ferrero, Michael Chang, Fernando Gonzalez and the double team of Bob and Mike Bryan.
2. Ryan Marker
Ryan Marker is an American tennis player currently playing for the University of San Francisco based in California, United States. From the YouTube Channel, Behind The Mask, Ryan Marker released a video about his life as gay and the influence it has on his life. The video entitled Living Your Authentic Trust is fourteen minutes long and explains about the life of Ryan Marker from being a young boy through to his senior life and eventually becoming gay. He stated in the video that his family, friends, and teammates had played a significant role in his life, especially after coming out as gay.
Ryan Marker attended Palm Desert High School in California between 2011 and 2015. He later attended the University of San Francisco graduating with BBA in Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Studies in 2019. Throughout his life in high school, he won different tennis championships including the DVL Singles Champion 2015 and the CIF Champion 2011, and he was also the member of the Varsity Tennis Team. At the university level, Ryan Marker continued his career in tennis and won multiple titles as well as becoming the captain of the men’s tennis team for single players.
3. Joseph Wenger
Joseph Wenger is an American tennis player currently playing for Villanova Club in the University of Villanova based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He first came out as gay when his club was out for a tennis tournament in South Carolina while talking with his junior teammate. Joseph had tried multiple times to speak out, and later that evening, he mentioned it to one senior member, and they both agreed with his sexual orientation. He continued to tell it to all teammates and got a similar reaction hence realized that being gay is not something complicated.
Wenger began playing tennis while at kindergarten and later joined Cretin-Derham Hall High School where he achieved his Diploma in GPA in 2015. He then joined Villanova University pursuing Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Joseph has volunteered in different events including in the Special Olympics and as a member at Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity. In 2014, he participated in the summer research program at the University of Minnesota. Again, he was an engineering intern at Mortenson in the 2017 summer and as a civil engineering intern at Pennoni.
4. Ted Tinling
Cuthbert Collingwood Tinling, also known as Ted Tingling, was an English tennis player, author and fashion designer born on June 1910 and died in May 1990. He was openly gay with a career as a professional tennis player and designer of tennis attires.
Born in Eastbourne, England, Ted Tinling began suffering bronchial asthma in 1923 and moved to the French Riviera where he started playing tennis. It is here that his father asked if he would participate in the matches and he later became friends with Lenglen. Ted Tinling went ahead and won his first Wimbledon Championship in 1927 becoming a top player in the series until 1949 when he retired.
5. Nick Lee
Nick Lee is an American college tennis player who came out to be openly gay while at a young age. He first mentioned it to his close friend over the phone when in high school in his junior year. While growing up, Nick Lee felt ashamed to express his sexuality, thinking that it is wrong and unaccepted. Despite not coming into terms with himself as gay, the support and love shown by his teammates encouraged him to remain open while focusing on his college tennis career.
Nick Lee has involved passionately in supporting the LGBTQ+ community by wearing bracelets to show solidarity with gay teammates and sometimes their opponents. Since accepting himself as a gay and announcing it openly, Nick Lee encourages other gay tennis players to speak out. Besides, he plays a significant role to ensure that gay tennis players do not remain in the dark but come out and declare their sexual orientations.
6. Andres Bustani
Andres Bustani is a Mexican college tennis player who came out as gay after joining Lewis Clark State College in Idaho. Andres Bustani grew up in Mexico where he had difficulties in expressing his sexual orientations until when he relocated to the United States for further studies. He released he was gay while at middle school, but Mexican traditions values did not allow such relationships. Like most tennis players, Andres Bustani did not accept himself as well as thinking that his friends or family would not agree with his sexual orientation. Besides, he felt that none of the tennis players were gay while being familiar with a few individuals who came out openly.
Andres Bustani began playing tennis while at the age of eight, which motivated him to live. After thirteen years of living in Mexico City, his family moved to Cancun. He later graduated from high school then relocated to the United States. He played tennis at the collegiate level and later enrolled at Lewis Clark State College. With the country allowing same-sex marriages, Andres Bustani became hopeful with his sexual orientation. However, he remained secretive about his sexuality during his junior life at the institution but later found himself engaging with his first boyfriend, Adam. Subsequently, he acquired sufficient courage and began coming out about being gay from one friend to his teammate and saw no changes from his confidence in mentioning his sexual orientation.
In the realm of tennis, talent knows no bounds. The accomplishments of top gay tennis players are a testament to the fact that passion, dedication, and skill aren’t defined by one’s sexual orientation. Their stories offer inspiration and hope, shattering stereotypes and challenging prejudices. By openly embracing their true selves, these athletes have not only achieved greatness on the court but have also paved the way for future generations, proving that in sports, as in life, it’s one’s talent and character that truly matter.
Your support means a lot!
I hope this guide helped you discover list of gay tennis players. Do consider sharing it with your friends and family on social media!