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Daria Kasátkina challenges Vladimir Putin

Russian tennis player Daria Kasátkina has made some very normal declarations to the Russian media that her president may not particularly like.

Daria Kasátkina challenges Vladimir Putin
Jerry LaiUSA TODAY Sports

Daria Kasátkina, a Russian tennis player and number 12 in the WTA ranking, declared on Monday in an interview for a Russian media outlet that she is homosexual.

“Do I have a girlfriend? Yes,” she told Viktor Kravchenko, a Russian journalist.

Is homosexuality punished in Russia?

Although for many people around the world, this statement would normally not raise an eyebrow, it comes as a surprise as in her home country the simple, and biologically clear fact of being homosexual can be considered a crime. In fact, there is even a law to ‘prevent’ the display of affection between two people of the same sex. This can lead to a fine of up to the equivalent of around $12,000.

The 25-year-old was ranked number 2 in the world in 2018 and is currently the highest-ranked Russian tennis player. Kasátkina could not play in the recent Wimbledon tournament due to the sanctions imposed on Russian tennis players, although she showed where her level was at by reaching the semi-finals at Roland Garros a few weeks earlier. At the moment, she is training in Barcelona, the place where the interview took place.

It’s no surprise that when talking about this topic, the Russian tennis player admitted feeling “a little nervous.” It is very difficult for Russian citizens to make statements of this type due to the consequences that can be faced over such a taboo subject.

“I’ve never talked about it so openly in front of a camera,” she said. “But I like it.”

Kasátkina concluded the interview by explaining her sense of relief at coming out.

“Living in the closet for a long time is complicated (...) you have to be at peace with yourself, it’s the only thing that matters”.

The gesture of the Russian tennis player is a step forward in setting an example for other athletes, both Russian and in other parts of the world. In fact, these statements have been echoed across social media and Kasátkina has received many messages of affection.