Swedish Tennis Player Johanna Larsson Comes Out As Lesbian
Johanna Larsson, a 29-year-old pro tennis player from Sweden, has come out as a lesbian.
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."
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.