Andy Roddick & Mardy Fish Join Athlete Ally: First Male Tennis Players Take Stand Against Homophobia

  • Apr 30, 2013

Photo of Andy Roddick by James Marvin Phelps.  License available here.

American star tennis players and good friends Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish have become the first professional men's tennis players to align with Athlete Ally.

Andy Roddick noted: "Yesterday was an incredible day for athletes everywhere. Jason Collin's courage and leadership in coming out reminds me of how important it is for an athlete to be able to be true to him or herself.  As an Athlete Ally, I want to support every athlete to feel comfortable and confident being themselves and to make sure that all people - players and fans alike - are  welcome and included in tennis."

"Everybody deserves a shot at playing sports. It shouldn't matter in the least if that person is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Building community through healthy and inclusive activities should be one of the main focuses behind athletics, and that isn't possible if you exclude LGBT individuals, especially our youth," said Fish.

Athlete Ally Advisory Board Member Martina Navratilova added: "It's people like Andy and Mardy who will help pave the way for LGBT athletes in tennis. Though coming out is an intensely personal decision, with each new Athlete Ally that speaks out, an LGBT athlete could feel more comfortable coming out."

Roddick is a retired American professional tennis player who ranked among the top 10 in the world for almost a decade including number one, winning the U.S. Open and Grand Slam Singles titles. Andy launched the Andy Roddick Foundation at 18 years old with the goal of developing and inspiring underserved youth through sports-based mentoring. He received the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award in 2005 and the Arthur Ashe Leadership Award in 2007. Roddick was also awarded the 2009 Heineken Star Award for his philanthropy.

An admired and decorated American tennis player of the last decade in his own right, Mardy Fish reached a career high ranking of number seven in the world in 2011, won a silver medal at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, and has clamed six ATP titles in his career. Off-court, he is also a committed humanitarian.  Mardy establishing his own charitable organization, The Mardy Fish Foundation, which helps promote balanced, healthy lifestyles for youth in Indian River County, Florida.

No professional men's tennis player has ever publicly come out of the closet, but there have been gay male tennis players. Francisco Rodriguez came out after retirement in 2008, and one of the greatest of all time, Bill Tilden who dominated the sport in the 1920's, is widely known as having been gay.

Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally said, "As Athlete Ally advances the conversation of LGBT inclusion in athletics, it's critical that we empower new voices and new sports. It's amazing to have our first Athlete Allies in professional men's tennis, and particularly powerful for them to be two of the world's most successful and admired players." Taylor added: "We couldn’t be happier to have such remarkable athletes join our organization, and we look forward to continued leadership in men's and women's tennis."

Taylor's enthusiasm was shared by fellow advisory board member Rennae Stubbs, who said: Athlete Ally has been moving the needle forward from sport to sport. We’re seeing allies in football, men's and women's basketball, hockey, rugby, cricket, UFC, soccer and now I am proud to say tennis. All these sports are standing up for principles common to every sport on Earth: respect, equality and acceptance."

Brett Haber, a host for Tennis Channel, who also serves on the Athlete Ally Advisory Board, said: "Tennis fans have applauded Andy and Mardy for years. They have been warriors on the court and inspirational figures for the battles they have fought off of it. Each is a tremendous humanitarian, and it’s only appropriate that these two leaders would be the first among men's professional tennis to take such a stand."