Russian tennis star Daria Kasatkina has blasted her country's stance on homosexuality after making the brave announcement that she's gay.
The World No.12 and top-ranked Russian women's player broke down in tears in an interview with vlogger Vitya Kravchenko on Tuesday after coming out as gay.
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The 25-year-old then uploaded a photo to Instagram to confirm her relationship with Russian Olympic figure skater Natalia Zabiiako.
Asked if she was in a relationship with a woman, Kasatkina said: “Yes. Living in the closet is impossible.
“Not for the long run, no. It is too hard. It is pointless, you will be completely focused on that until you choose to come out. Of course, it is up to you to decide how to do it and how much you tell.
“Living in peace with yourself is the only thing that matters, and f*** everyone else.”
The 25-year-old's comments come after Russian deputies proposed on Monday a new law which would ban information on all non-traditional sexual relationships in the public sphere.
Moscow formally decriminalised homosexuality in 1993, but broadcasting homosexual 'propaganda' to youngsters has been banned in the country since 2013.
"There are many subjects that are even more important than it that are banned, so it's no surprise," Kasatkina said.
“This notion of someone wanting to be gay or becoming one is ridiculous. I think there is nothing easier in this world than being straight.
“Seriously, if there is a choice, no one would choose being gay? Why make your life harder, especially in Russia? What’s the point?
“It is important to talk about these things. It is important for young people who have a hard time with society and need support.
“I believe it is important that influential people from sports, or any other sphere really, talk about it. It helps.”
Asked if she would hold hands with her girlfriend in Russia, Kasatkina said “never”.
“Judging by how things are going there, it will never be OK,” she said.
Earlier this month, Russian footballer Nadya Karpova also spoke publicly about her sexuality.
"My respect. I was happy for her, but also other people, especially girls needed to know that," Kasatkina said.
"It is important for young people who have a hard time with society and need support.
"I believe it's important that influential people from sports, and any other sphere speak about it. It really helps."
Tennis world rallies around Daria Kasatkina
Kasatkina's brave announcement sparked an outpouring of love and support from around the sporting world.
Aussie tennis great Rennae Stubbs wrote “QTs” with a love heart emoji on Kasatkina's photo with Zabiiako.
American star Amanda Anisimova also commented with a love heart and clapping hands, while Karpova wrote: “I’m so PROUD! Kasatkina you go giiiiirl!!!”
Tennis commentator Victoria Chiesa tweeted: “Living her truth even at such great personal risk. Saying I respect her for this would be downplaying it.”
Fellow journalist Tumaini Carayol wrote: “Much respect for Daria Kasatkina and her sincerity and honesty.”
While presenter Nick McCarvel wrote: “Courageous, frank, open and honest — we salute you @DKasatkina.
“Living your full truth isn’t easy for anyone, but for some it’s much, much more challenging. Don’t stop, Dasha.”
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