Swedish Tennis Player Johanna Larsson Comes Out As Lesbian

"I kept my first relationship secret from everyone for two years," says Larsson, 29. "It was horrible to lie."

Johanna Larsson, a 29-year-old pro tennis player from Sweden, has come out as a lesbian.

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KEY BISCAYNE, FL - MARCH 24: Johanna Larsson of Sweden returns a shot against Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic during day 5 of the Miami Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 24, 2017 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

While rumors had circulated for some time, Larsson, who is ranked 25th in doubles and 85th in singles tennis, fretted about being open. "I kept my first relationship secret from everyone for two years before the situation got untenable. It was horrible to lie," she told Sweden's SVT TV. "I remember once that my mother had asked me if I met a woman and I denied it. I closed in upon myself, and I had no choice. My mum's reaction was unbelievable, she told me 'I love you no matter what.'"

Larsson, who appeared in the segment with girlfriend Amanda Strang, admits she fearing being out would cost her endorsements. "I had dependence on people, I was afraid of their reactions and of not being able to keep following my dreams in tennis."

Debuting on the international level at age 18, Larsson says the pressure of competing in the Women's Tennis Association distracted her from coming out even to herself. "I understood it late," she told SVT TV. "I was so focused on tennis that love, emotions or anything that could have distracted me from the sport was put aside. I was putting my life aside."

Al Bello/Getty Images

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 03: Serena Williams of the United States shakes hands with Johanna Larsson of Sweden after their third round Women's Singles match on Day Six of the 2016 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 3, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

While women's tennis has seen several high-ranking players come out—including Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and Gigi Fernandez, no male pro tennis player has come out while still playing.

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