Novak Djokovic speaks about lack of out male tennis players

Novak Djokovic of Serbia during the ATP Finals

Tennis champion Novak Djokovic has spoken about the lack of openly gay men in the sport.

Although there have been many out women at the top of tennis, from Billie Jean King to Amélie Mauresmo, there has never been an out gay man in the top tiers of the men’s sport.

Novak Djokovic was asked about a player coming out

Serbian player Novak Djokovic, the 14-time Grand Slam winner and men’s world #1, was asked about the issue in a press conference at the ATP Finals on November 18.

Asked how he would feel if a player came out as gay, Djokovic said: “I can only speak on my own behalf. I wouldn’t have anything against that, absolutely.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic during the men’s singles final match at the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 18, 2018. (GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty)

“You know it’s everybody’s right to have sexual orientation as they desire, any kind of direction in life they desire. I respect it. I don’t see people differently if they come out like that.

“I actually see that as a really courageous move. We live in a society still, where certain parts of the world are not ready to accept that.”

Djokovic’s native Serbia has an openly gay Prime Minister, Ana Brnabić, but the country does not recognise same-sex relationships and anti-LGBT sentiments pervade in the country.

Alexander Zverev of Germany shares a hug with Novak Djokovic of Serbia at the ATP Finals

Alexander Zverev of Germany shares a hug with Novak Djokovic of Serbia at the ATP Finals (Linnea Rheborg/Getty)

LGBT issues came to the fore in 2017, after former women’s world champion Margaret Court made a string of anti-gay comments.

Margaret Court likened LGBT people to Hitler

The evangelical Christian likened gay people to Hitler, claimed that homosexuality is an ungodly “lust for the flesh”, insisted that LGBT tendencies in young people were “all the devil”, and alleged that older lesbian tennis stars have ‘converted’ younger players.

Court claimed that gay people are “[doing] what Hitler did…what communism did… get in the minds of the children. There’s a whole plot in our nation and in the nations of the world to get in the minds of the children… They’re after our young ones, that’s what they’re after.”

Her comments were called out by several tennis stars, including former US champ Billie Jean King and Britain’s Andy Murray.

The venue of the Australian Open championships, the Margaret Court Arena, was named after the player in 2003.

However there have been calls for the venue to change its name in the wake of Court’s repeated anti-gay remarks.

in May 2017, the Margaret Court Arena said in a statement: “[We do] not support Margaret Court’s comments and we remain an organisation committed to embracing equality, diversity and inclusion; from our fans to our colleagues who deliver the events that people love to attend.”