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Tennis star Daria Kasatkina said that the war in Ukraine must end, and admitted that she was a lesbian

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Daria Kasatkina, the top-ranked tennis player in Russia, has come out as a lesbian and criticized the war in Ukraine in an unusually candid interview, in which she spoke about the difficulties top athletes face in coping with the consequences of the conflict – both at home and abroad .

Kasatkina, 25, touched on two of the most sensitive topics in Russia — Ukraine and LGBTQ rights — in a wide-ranging conversation with Russian blogger Vitya Kravchenko, which was recorded in Barcelona and posted on YouTube on Monday.

Kasatkina, the world No. 12 in women’s tennis, said she wanted “the war to end” and described the conflict as a “full-blown nightmare.”

She said “there hasn’t been a day since February 24” when Russia invaded Ukraine that she hasn’t read or thought about the war. She expressed sympathy for the Ukrainian players affected by the war.

“I want to play against players who have the same opportunity to train and prepare for tournaments as I do, who don’t have to worry about court bombing and [having] nowhere to go,” she added. “I can’t imagine what it’s like not to have a home – not because you didn’t buy it, but because your home was taken away.”

Kasatkina is the latest Russian athlete to speak out against the war in violation of Russian laws that forbid anyone from criticizing what officials are calling Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine. Several other Russian tennis players have called for an end to the war, including men’s number eight Andrey Rublev, though many of them have done so in more vague terms than Kasatkina.

Recognizing the importance of her position, Kasatkina broke down in tears in one of the videos when asked if she feared she would no longer be able to return to Russia, admitting she had considered it.

A horror-themed website suggested that readers “hunt” gays. The activist was then stabbed to death.

During the interview, Kasatkina also revealed that she has a girlfriend, which is a significant step given that LGBTQ issues are taboo in Russia, where it has been banned for nearly a decade to disseminate information about “non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors, including same-sex relationships.

“I think it’s important that influencers in sports or any other field talk about it,” she said, adding that “living in a closet” in the long run will be too difficult. “It doesn’t make sense, you will be constantly focused on this until you decide to open up,” she said, although she added that it is up to everyone to decide “how to do it and how much to tell.”

She later posted a photo on social media. with figure skater Natalya Zabiyako, who competed for Russia, Estonia and Canada, and the caption “my cutie.”

Last year, the US-based nonprofit Freedom House gave Russia a zero rating when it comes to equal treatment of minorities, including gays, in society. “LGBT+ people are also subject to significant discrimination, which has intensified over the past decade,” the organization’s report says.

Just two years ago, a constitutional amendment was passed defining marriage solely as a marriage between a man and a woman. Russia has also banned pro-LGBTQ demonstrations and restricted LGBTQ rights advocacy groups.

Asked when she thought it was acceptable for same-sex couples to hold hands in public in Russia, Kasatkina replied, “Never.”

Russia accuses Ukraine of carrying out helicopter strike on Belgorod fuel base

Kasatkina also touched on the global discussion about including Russian and Belarusian athletes in major sporting events after many international sporting events were banned due to the war in Ukraine. Tennis players are allowed to compete in many major tournaments on the condition that they remain neutral regarding the conflict – and they cannot compete under their own national flags.

However, in a move that later sparked controversy in tennis, Wimbledon banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing altogether, including Kasatkina and many of the world’s top both male and female players.

Due to the ban on participation in Wimbledon of Russia and Belarus, 16 of the top 100 players were left out of the tournament.

Kasatkina, without expressing a direct opinion on the ban, said “sports are not out of politics” but added that they “really bring people and nations together.”


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