The 2022 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic was the first tournament that Daria Kasatkina played after coming out about her relationship with figure skater Natalia Zabiiako. At each match, Zabiiako was sitting courtside with Kasatkina’s team, and on a few occasions, she was even asked for autographs and selfies alongside the title-winner.
Daria Kasatkina talks about the effects of coming out
In the press conference room, Kasatkina opened up a bit about what she was going through and how the coming-out affected her work.
Asked how she blocks out headlines, Kasatkina said: “I was trying to focus on the positives. For sure there were negative parts and positive parts and I was able to focus just on the positive parts and got the energy from there which also helped me […] As soon as I arrived to San Jose, I didn’t have any a flashbacks about everything that happened. I was just focused on playing a lot of tennis this week.”
The 25-year-old Kasatkina did say that she new the questions about her girlfriend would be asked in the initial coming out interview. The WTA player said: “I was a little bit nervous, but as soon as the question came up, I answered without any hesitation. Sooner or later it had to happen and I’m glad that it happened now. I feel very good with myself right now. Now I feel like kind of free and I have nothing to hide and feels great.”
Positive response from the WTA players
Other women’s tennis players voiced their unequivocal support for their Russian counterpart and understand that the stakes are incredible high for her.
Coco Gauff: “I’m super happy for her.”
American 18-year-old Coco Gauff expressed her support: “I’m super happy for her. I think that would be something really scary to do, especially coming from her country, which really isn’t as open as we are in US about that issue. […] I think in tennis, I feel like at least with the girls around, we’re all very supportive of each other. No matter the background and identity, I don’t think there’s any judgment when it comes to that.”
Gauff added, “I’m grateful that she felt comfortable enough sharing that part of her life because she doesn’t have to do that. I can only imagine how many people in her situation feel inspired by that and I think that’s why it’s another thing important to speak out about stuff like that.”
Naomi Osaka: “I’m always in support of love.”
Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka shared Gauff’s sentiment: “I didn’t watch the full interview but I watched little snippets and I thought it was really amazing how she’s doing that. I do think we have to rally to support her, because it is a bit of a dangerous situation. I think that’s really incredible that she’s coming out and she’s standing for what she believes. I’m always in support of love.”
Shelby Rogers: “A lot of people are really proud of her.”
The 2022 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic finalist Shelby Rogers, even after defeat, had only positive things to say about her opponent: “She made two pretty brave statements that might mean she could never go back to her home country. I would think that would make it kind of hard to continue on and focus on tennis […] I don’t want to speak like I know what they’re going through. There’s so many players that are in a really tough situation and I know it’s really brave of her. A lot of people are really proud of her and I think, like I said on court, she’s still a person that I always see, she’s got a smile on her face and she’s just a joy to be around.” The American added, “I do feel for for all the players going going through something on tour, I’m not even gonna pretend to relate or know what they’re going through.”
While the long-term consequences might be hurtful for the world No.9 Kasatkina, there was nothing but joy emanating from her when she ran to her girlfriend after winning the title, no longer hiding something so important to her.