Russian tennis player Daria Kasatkina has criticised her country’s attitude to homosexuality after coming out as gay and also called for an end to the war in Ukraine.
Kasatkina, the world number 12, reached the French Open semi-finals last month.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Russia but the spreading of “gay propaganda” among minors is prohibited and homophobia is widespread.
“Living in the closet is impossible,” Kasatkina, 25, said.
“Living in peace with yourself is the only thing that matters.”
Speaking to Russian blogger Vitya Kravchenko on Youtube, she confirmed she has a girlfriend.
“So many subjects are taboo in Russia,” she says. “Some of them more important than ours, it’s no surprise.
“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.
“If there is a choice, nobody would choose being gay, why make your life harder, especially in Russia? What’s the point?”
Asked if it would be safe to hold hands with her girlfriend, she replied: “Never … judging by things that are going on now, it will never be OK.”
Russian and Belarusian players were banned from this year’s Wimbledon because of the invasion of Ukraine. Players from both countries have been allowed to compete on the tennis tour but not under their national flags.
When asked what she wanted most in life, she replied: “For the war to end”, adding it was a “full-blown nightmare”.
Russians are banned from using the word war to describe the invasion, with Russian President Vladimir Putin instead coining the phrase “special military operation”.
Kasatkina became tearful when asked if she was “afraid” she may not be able to return home, replying: “Yes, I have thought about that.”