I found this piece on the web and thought-why not.
Suzanne Lenglen? Are the top doubles team Brough-duPont or Fry-Hart? What about Hard and Bueno? I might deserve a right good roasting for being as curious as a cat, but I'll chance it if someone can come up with more! BTW, a couple of the dates seemed wrong to me. I put that in ** symbols. The accuracy (or lack of) I leave for others to decide for themselves.
Taken from: http://www.oberlin.edu/~mtowey/lesbianism.html
Any mention of lesbianism in tennis must first pay homage to a gay man. The most notable homosexual in the tennis world for most of the Twentieth Century was a William Tatem Tilden III. “Big Bill”, as he was called, was not even on nodding terms with the closet, traveling with an entourage that was made up mostly of handsome young men. As the premier player of the era (and arguably of any era), no one saw fit to question the blatant and in-your-face activities of a man who would today be characterized as a flaming queen. It was only when he was well past middle age, and no longer the stellar attraction he once that society tired of looking the other way. He was sent to prison at over 60 years of age for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor”, though it was a minimal sentence served as a librarian in a minimum security facility. According to Alice Marble, a fellow touring pro, Tilden was “tennis's sacrifice to the world's homophobia”.
One of the earliest female tennis champions, Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen, was as flamboyant as she was skilled. No accusations of lesbianism were ever levelled directly at her, perhaps mainly due to her very public affaires with various prominent Europeans. The fact that none of those affaires lasted more than a few weeks, and for most of her relatively short career Suzanne's tennis entourage was almost entirely composed of homosexuals, was never given any play in the media. The press had their Out whipping boy in Bill Tilden, and, after all, France considered La Belle Suzanne a national treasure.
A decade later, another female tennis champion, Alice Marble, was more discrete. Though her longtime coach, Eleano“Teach” Tennant, was a known homosexual, the fact that Tennant was one of the top coaches in the game was apparently enough to stave off assumptions of a more-than-tennis association. Marble, a bisexual, had four great loves in her life: two men, and two women. Fortunately for her reputation, it was the two male relationships (the second, a brief marriage) that the public knew about. Alice was the quintessential female “jock” in appearance and demeanor: she was extremely athletic, and played her tennis matches wearing shorts (the first high-ranking woman pro to do so by more than a quarter-century) and a baseball-style cap. In her autobiography, dictated just two years before her death at 93, Marble went on record about homosexuality in her sport. She said that there were always lesbian affairs on the tour, but “like the movie community, the players protected their own. A Billie Jean King or Martina Navratilova scandal in the thirties or forties would have been devastating to the sport.”
“One of the top women's doubles teams were partners off the court, too. We all knew about it, although when asked,I always said, 'I wasn't under the bed.' I envied the lovers'closeness, the looks exchanged, the casual touching of shoulders, the brief clasp of hands before a match.”
In another chapter of her autobiography, Marble mentions that the marriage between fellow player Margaret Osborne and one of the world's richest men, Will I. duPont (Alice had introduced them a decade before) ended when Margaret divorced duPont to live with her doubles partner, Margaret Varner Bloss. Divorced not just a duPont, but the duPont.
Billie Jean King was already regarded as one of the seminal figures in the history of tennis, as well as the godmother of the women's modern professional game, when she was outed in 1978(*this date is wrong . The King-Navratilova stories broke at about the same time) in a lurid palimony suit brought by her former lover and private secretary, Marilyn Barnett. At first King denied any relationship beyond professional, then recanted only to the extent of admitting that the relationship had existed - but had been “a terrible mistake.” Stung by a wave of bitter backlash from the gay community over her hypocrisy, King attempted to “rehabilitate” herself by ceasing to make any sort of protest of heterosexuality (or even bisexuality) when she was referred to as lesbian. She never actually came out and admitted it, but very publicly stopped trying to hide it.
In 1983(*actually this was 1981) another bombshell rocked the tennis world. Martina Navratilova, the #1 female player in the world and a newly-naturalized American citizen, was “outed” in the magazine Sports Illustrated by a writer in whom she had confided her “secret” on the basis that it be strictly off the record. By that point it was an ill-concealed “secret” to all but a handful of tennis fans, but Navratilova's reaction following the disclosure could not have been more different from Billie Jean King's. She immediately called a press conference to confirm the story, while carefully documenting the dishonesty of the reporter who had broken his promise of confidentiality. It was a master stroke, as she immediately became the injured party, and garnered much sympathy in the heterosexual press. Once Out, Martina became a staunch advocate of gay rights, becoming a spokesperson for the Gay Games and helping to lead the fight to repeal Colorado's Proposition 2 (she is an Aspen resident). At the same time, she publicly admitted that her being Out had probably cost her many millions in lost endorsement monies.
Though there have been claims that lesbianism is rife on the women's professional tennis tour, no other player has Come Out during the ensuing 15-plus years. [Author's Note: This paper was written before the arrival of Amelie Mauresmo onto the international tennis scene.]
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