Kasatkina ‘given guarantees’ on safety of gay players in Saudi

Daria Kasatkina

Daria Kasatkina, one of the few openly gay players on the WTA Tour, says she has been “given guarantees” about her safety should she compete in Saudi Arabia.

The 26-year-old is in contention to qualify for the season-ending WTA Finals, which will be staged in Riyadh for the first time this November.

“I’ve been given guarantees that I’m going to be fine,” the world number 11 told BBC Sport when asked whether gay players should feel comfortable taking part.

When questioned at Wimbledon last year, Kasatkina expressed reservations about the Finals going to Saudi Arabia – saying there were “many issues concerning this country”.

But speaking at the Madrid Open after a third-round victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Kasatkina spoke of the benefits of taking the tour’s flagship event to Riyadh on a three-year deal.

“If I qualify, it means that I am top eight in the world – it’s great news for me,” she said.

“We see that the Saudis now are very into the sport, they want to develop the sport. And as long as it gives the opportunity to the people there, and the young kids and the women to actually see the sport – so that they can watch it, they can play it, they can participate in this, I think it’s great.”