Australian Open star can’t risk returning to Russia after coming out

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Russian tennis star Daria Kasatkina is afraid to return to her home country after coming out as gay and speaking out against the invasion of Ukraine.

Kasatkina came out last year in an interview with Russian blogger Vitya Kravchenko, stating: “So many subjects are taboo in Russia. This notion of someone wanting to be gay or becoming [gay] 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? Living in the closet is impossible. It is too hard, it is pointless. Living in peace with yourself is the only thing that matters, and f*** everyone else.”

Kasatkina, who is in a relationship with former figure skater Natalia Zabiiako, also called for an end to the war in Ukraine and has not been able to risk returning to Russia ever since. Speaking ahead of her first round match against fellow Russian player Varvara Gracheva at the Australian Open, she explained why she feels it is so important to speak out.

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“Of course I’m worried,” Kasatkina told the Guardian. “I have so many friends and people I know from Ukraine and hearing the stories, what they’re telling me. It’s painful because I’m thinking, imagine if I’m in their spot.

“It’s very tough. And it’s been almost a year living in these circumstances. I want this to end as soon as possible, but unfortunately it’s not depending on us. They’re my friends and I want to show them love and support because it’s very tough. For them, it’s more difficult.

“You never know how the situation is going to turn out. But I realise that you don’t have to look too far forward because you don’t know what’s going to be around the corner. You don’t know what’s going to be tomorrow.

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“For most people, it’s important to have the support of family, of friends. It’s been tough because … my friends, my family, they couldn’t travel, first because of Covid, then the war.

“It’s difficult that I cannot see the people I love, often. Actually, I can see them almost never. I didn’t see my father for two years. But it is what it is. It’s life, unfortunately. I have to say thanks that it’s not a worse scenario. I’m just happy they’re healthy and I have them.”

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