Russian Tennis Players Mum On Anti-Gay Laws at U.S. Open

During the U.S. Open, six female Russian tennis players were asked about Russia's anti-gay laws in interviews, and all either plead ignorance about the laws' existence or chose to keep silent, USA Today reports.

KirilenkoMaria Kirilenko (pictured) claimed, "I didn't hear anything about it," while Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova said "I have my own opinion about this but I don't know if I should comment."

Nadia Petrova and 2004 U.S. Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova were the only ones who offered some degree of support, Kuznetsova saying, "You can be whoever you want to be as long as you're happy," and making the astute observation that, "In Russia if you don't support Putin you are in big, big trouble."

Both men's and women's tours go to Russia for tournaments after the U.S. Open, and just as with the Sochi Olympics, any gay tennis players and fans will have to keep their orientation and condemnation of the law under wraps to avoid arrest and prosecution under Russian law.


  1. andrew says

    It seems to me that Svetlana Kuznetsova saying: “In Russia if you don’t support Putin you are in big big trouble”. Is a courageous statement and a big big deal.

  2. Kelsey says

    Sveta lives in Dubai so while it is courageous what she said, it isn’t as courageous as you would think. Athletes really shouldn’t be asked about political issues. They should be asked about their games. They are athletes, NOT activists or politicians. If they volunteer an opinion, that is one thing, but to put them in an uncomfortable position is completely inappropriate.

  3. Macguffin54 says

    Thanks for posting this. I have been thinking about this issue while watching the Open, wondering what players like Tursonov and Youzhny have thought (especially since a lot of “Russian” players do not live in Russia and it is safe(r) to speak out.) if you hadn’t posted this I don’t know that I ever would have heard about any tennis players’ responses. Curious what the male players have said, or will say.

  4. Macguffin54 says

    Also, it’s not inappropriate to ask athletes political questions. Everybody has an opinion and the opinions of those who are in the public eye are as valid, interesting and important as any other person. And since their voices reach a wider audience than most people’s, their opinions might be more helpful to a cause. The whole point we have been making is that so many, politicians, the IOC, sponsers, Russian brands, are turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to the situation, nobody wants to get involved. Why should be give a free pass to athletes for remaining silent on this issue when we are expecting anyone and everyone else involved, however remotely or tangentially, to speak out? Of course athletes don’t want to answer difficult questions. Who does? But if Russian people from all walks of life don’t speak up the problem will never go away.

  5. Bill says

    @Macguffin54: “Also, it’s not inappropriate to ask athletes political questions.” Being able to ski down a hill 0.01 seconds faster than the next fastest guy makes you an expert on politics?

  6. northalabama says

    name one out gay or bi male tennis pro playing the circuit – i’ll help you, there isn’t one. girlfriends watching in the stands, and boyfriends waiting in the locker room. you’re expecting pro-gay and anti-russian comments from these closet cases?

    please, do some homework. when it comes to out gay or bi male players, tennis is just like the nfl – a few straight allies, and zero out pros. look elsewhere for activist players.

  7. MaryM says

    Kelsey says”: Athletes really shouldn’t be asked about political issues.”

    Why ever not?

    They are people with brains who happen to be Russian. They have opinions on a whole range of issues.

  8. DannyEastVillage says

    The Header of this story is syntactically erroneous: It sounds as if the New York Open has anti-gay laws. Please fix this. It might better read:

    “…is Mum at the US Open about Russian Anti-Gay Laws”

    Can ANYONE write English anymore?

  9. DannyEastVillage says

    The Header of this story is syntactically erroneous: It sounds as if the New York Open has anti-gay laws. Please fix this. It might better read:

    “…is Mum at the US Open about Russian Anti-Gay Laws”

    Can ANYONE write English anymore?

  10. DannyEastVillage says

    Ms Kuznetsova said what the Russian hockey player didn’t have the balls to say last week: that if you don’t support Putin, “you’re in big, big trouble.” That’s really where the matter lies.

  11. jjose712 says

    andrew: Well, Svetlana lives during most part of the year in Spain, and she lived in Spain since a teenager, so it’s quite clear that her oppinions could be very far from the point of view of an athlete the lives and depends of the regime, like for example, Isinbayeva.

    Anyway, i understand why they try to avoid the subject, because they need to come back to their country (at least most of them) and have family there. But all seem smart enought to know that a public support of the law is not the best thing they can say

  12. jjose712 says

    northalabama: You are right, there’s no openly gay player in the circuit (wich is very different of no being gay players in the circuit), but there’s a lot of pro gay players in the circuit.
    In fact, some of them even surprise me, for example Juan Carlos Ferrero (spanish former number one recently retired) is very pro gay rights wich is a surprise because is well known that he is linked to the right party in spain.
    Nicolás Almagro has a lot of gay fans because he is very pro gay rights too.

    I think most tennis players acknowlege there’s a big gay following, and with a few exceptions (like Tipsarevic) most of them embrace their gay following

  13. IJelly says

    Come on T-Ro. You’re in the later part of your career. It’s time to say something – if not during the US Open, then at least before the tournament in Moscow.

  14. Macguffin54 says

    @Bill, you don’t have to be an expert at politics to have an opinion and isn’t it everyone’s responsibility to know what’s going on in our respective countries? I’m sure you’re not an expert in politics either, nor am I, but we still have our opinions. It’s no more inappropriate to ask an athlete for their opinion than to ask you or me our opinions. It sounds like by your logic that just because someone is an athlete they can’t be expected to know or can get a free pass for not knowing what attrocities are going on where they live or not standing up against them. How can we hope to hold Coke and Stoli and the IOC and TV stations responsible for supporting Russia in the face of these laws if we don’t even expect the people who are supposed to vote in the leaders and lend support for or against the passage of these very laws to know about them?

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