Alison Van Uytvanck has been making headlines at Wimbledon after knocking out defending champion Garbiñe Muguruza in the second round and world number 27Anett Kontaveit in the third.
But the 24-year-old Belgian, currently ranked 47, has also been the centre of attention after announcing that she is gay after defeating Dominika Cibulkova to claim the Budapest Open last February.
After beating Kontaveit on Court 3 at Wimbledon, Van Uytvanck rushed over to celebrate with her girlfriend, Greet Minnem, also a tennis player, and planted a kiss.
Van Uytvanck: "We shouldn’t be ashamed about it"
As she had in her post-match press conference after defeating Muguruza, Van Uytvanck openly discussed her sexuality after reaching the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time. “I don’t think that I feel more free now, we just decided that it was something we didn’t want to keep to ourselves, because I’m happy and it doesn’t make any difference if that’s with a woman or a man. I just feel that it’s something we shouldn’t be ashamed about and that does make me feel more free,” Van Uytvanck said. “I’m not ill; I don’t have any kind of disease. I just think it’s a good thing because I have been able to come out as a gay person.”
Van Uytvanck is not alone in coming out on the WTA Tour. Johanna Larsson, Conny Perrin, her wife Tara Moore and Casey Dellacqua have all done likewise before her and two greats of the game, Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, are openly gay.
Reaction on tour "very positive" - Van Uytvanck
“My parents are very proud of me. Their support is important, because it makes me feel happier,” Van Uytvanck said in March. “I came out because it made me feel good. I’m really happy with Greet. She understands me, she understands the game because she’s a player, we train together in the mornings. She’s a very warm person and we have a great connection. The only thing I hope is that young people have the confidence to do what we have done.”
While she admitted that she had suffered from bullying at school, Van Uytvanck said reaction to her coming out on the tour had been “Very positive.”
She will play world number 14 Daria Kasatkina for a place in the quarter-finals on Monday, which she admitted had prevented her from attending the Gay Pride parade in London on Saturday. “I think it would be better to have a rest,” she laughed.