In an effort to make the men’s tennis circuit a more inclusive and better place, the ATP has launched a partnership with the non-profit organization “You Can Play” to promote LGBTQ+ inclusion in the sport. The development came after the results of an LGBTQ+ survey conducted by the ATP among players. However, the survey made some startling observations, prompting mixed reactions from tennis fans.
In a statement announcing the partnership and the results of the investigation, the ATP concluded that while there were “generally positive attitudes of players towards homosexuals”, 75% of the 65 players who took part in the survey said they had heard the use of homophobic slurs from other players on tour.
“The survey identified social acceptance, conformance to social norms and jokes as the main drivers of homophobic language use in tennis,” a comment read in the ATP statement.
While the intent of the survey was good and the eventual partnership with You Can Play is a step in the right direction, tennis fans on social media were offended by some of the findings and observations that pointed to the existence of a big problem.
“It completely reads like they consider gay people to be a separate species that doesn’t exist in sport and certainly doesn’t exist in the locker room with them,” one fan wrote on Twitter, reacting to one of the comments.
Another major obstacle highlighted was the reluctance of male tennis players to openly reveal their sexuality. The survey data concluded that most players viewed rejection, isolation from fellow players on tour, and loneliness as the main barriers to openly disclosing their homosexuality.
At the same time, the ATP said players who took part in the survey and gave other interviews strongly opposed the use of homophobic slurs that created a negative impact on the tour.
Another fan responded to the governing body’s lack of action against the use of homophobic slurs on tour.
“The 75% is scary. I don’t want to support any player who uses any type of insult and yet we’ll probably never have a way of knowing which ones do. It’s uncomfortable that the ATP just let this kind of slip behavior and players see using these slurs as jokes,” one tweet read.
Here are some additional reactions from tennis fans on recent developments:
How the ATP aims to promote LGBTQ+ inclusion in men’s tennis with the new partnership
The multi-year partnership between the ATP and the You Can Play organization – which has also worked with the NHL, MLS and NASCAR – will see the introduction of an educational programme. The program promotes the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community and aims to eradicate any negativity around the subject. Additionally, the program will tackle the massive problem of homophobia, as some of the shocking survey data revealed.
“Together, the two organizations will create science-based educational content that will be rolled out to ATP players, tournaments and staff over the coming seasons, with content directly informed by insights and data from an ATP survey conducted last year,” the ATP statement read. .
The majority of the 65 players who took part in the survey were among the top 250 tennis players in the ATP rankings. Many of these players also appeared for individual interviews to provide personal accounts and observations of some of the events of the tour. During the WTA tour, Daria Kasatkina became the last player to come out publicly as gay.