This profile is part of Queerty’s 2022 Out For Good series, recognizing public figures who’ve had the courage to come out and make a difference in the past year, in celebration of National Coming Out Day.
Name: Daria Kasatkina, 25
Bio: Ever since her brother introduced her to tennis at the age of six, Daria Kasatkina has been a natural on the court. Hailing from Togliatty, Russia, Kasatkina’s early passion and talent for the game set the stage for a stellar junior career. In 2014, she won the French Open girls’ title at the age of 17. The following year she impressed tennis fans in her Grand Slam debut, making it to the 3rd round at the 2015 US Open by defeating the highly-ranked Daria Gavrilova and Ana Konjuh.
By the time she was 18 in 2016, Kasatkina rose in the WTA rankings to reach No. 24 worldwide. Over the next few years, she continued to play in all the major events, including the Rio Olympics, often advancing far in competition. Then in 2017, just before her 20th birthday, she won her first singles title at the Charleston Open. Her success continued the following year, when she won the Kremlin Cup and became the No. 1 ranked WTA player in Russia, and No. 10 in the world.
Kasatkina’s momentum stalled over the following two years, but her drive did not. In 2021, she won two more singles titles, at the Philip Island in Australia, and the St. Petersburg Ladies’ Trophy. And this year, she reached the second WTA 1000 semifinal of her career at the Italian Open, and won her sixth career WTA Title in Granby. Her success launched her again to No. 1 in Russia, and No. 11 in the world.
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While she maintains Russian citizenship, Kasatkina currently resides and trains in Barcelona, Spain. Because of the ongoing war in Ukraine, she and other Russian tennis players have been recognized as “neutrals” by the WTA, and she was not allowed to compete at Wimbledon because of her nationality. She has spoken out strongly against the war, calling it a “full-blown nightmare.” When asked if she’d consider changing her citizenship, she said, “We’ll see.” The comments came during a video interview, but they weren’t the only ones to make headlines.
Coming Out: In a video interview with a Russian blogger released July 18, Daria Kasatkina came out by confirming she has a girlfriend. Her announcement came just as news was spreading that the Russian parliament was in talks to scale up the country’s already-severe laws against public discussion of LGBTQ topics. Kasatkina said “There is no point” for her to remain in the closet because “it would always be going round in your head, until you say something.”
The same day the interview was released, Kasatkina revealed her girlfriend with a celebratory post on Instagram. In the photo, she’s embracing Olympic silver medalist figure skater Natalia Zabiiako, who is also tagged. The caption is succinct—a single heart emoji says it all.
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Reflecting on her decision to come out a few weeks later, Kasatkina told ESPN, “I’m really happy about it. As I saw, it was not just a good thing for me, also it helped other people. I feel more free and happy. I think I made the right step. With the situation in the world, all this stuff that is tough, when if not now?” She added that the response has been overwhelmingly supportive.
Though some aspects of her future remain unclear—Kasatkina isn’t sure if her public statements mean she won’t be allowed to return to Russia—others seem all but certain. The world-class tennis player will continue to inspire with her spirited commitment, on and off the court.