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In tennis, women’s greats Navratilova and Billie Jean King came out about their sexuality. Former French player Amelie Mauresmo also spoke about her sexual orientation.
U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe came out before she played in last year’s London Olympics. WNBA star Seimone Augustus and the league’s No. 1 draft pick, Brittney Griner, are some of the more recent female athletes to follow suit.
Glenn Burke, an outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A’s in the 1970s, and Billy Bean, a utility player in the 1980s and 1990s, disclosed they were gay after retiring. Burke died of complications due to AIDS in 1995.
Gareth Thomas, a Welsh rugby star, attracted widespread media attention in 2009 when he announced he was gay; he played until he retired in 2011.
"I was like a ticking bomb. I thought I could suppress it, keep it locked away in some dark corner of myself, but I couldn’t. It was who I was, and I just couldn’t ignore it any more. I’d been through every emotion under the sun trying to deal with this," Thomas said in a recent documentary broadcast on British television.
Orlando Cruz of Puerto Rico came out in October as pro boxing’s first openly gay fighter, saying, "I don’t want to hide any of my identities. I want people to look at me for the human being I am."
Canadian swimmer Mark Tewksbury came out as gay six years after winning a gold medal in the backstroke at the 1992 Barcelona Games. Former Olympic skiing gold medalist Anja Paerson of Sweden announced last year after her retirement that she was in a long-term relationship with a woman. Australian diver Matthew Mitcham came out as gay before he won the men’s 10-meter platform gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
—— AP Sports Writer Rob Harris in London contributed to this report.
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