Brian Vahaly, closeted while playing on men’s tennis tour, is now out and proud and sharing his story
Was so pleasantly surprised to see this on out tennis journalist Nick McCarvel’s Instagram and Twitter accounts: a plug for Open Playbook: Being Queer & Out in Pro Tennis which will take place the evening of Aug. 23 in New York City.
Among those featured will be Brian Vahaly who is the highest-ranking male pro tennis player to come ever out publicly. He married his husband Bill in 2015, and they had two twin boys in 2016, Bennett and Parker.
I had not heard of Brian who once played doubles with Andy Roddick and had career victories over former French Open champions Michael Chang and Juan Carlos Ferrero, among others. He achieved a career-high of world no. 64 in March 2003. Vahaly was the only college graduate in the top 100 in the world and was recognized by People magazine in its issue of the 25 Hottest Bachelors.
I can see why!
Brian, now 39, retired in 2007. He began serving on the USTA board of directors and then became the chief operating officer of Venturehouse Group. In 2015, he became the chief operating officer of NextGen Venture Partners, a seed stage venture capital fund.
He tells Outsports in an story about the McCarvel event:: “Having competed in the college and professional tennis ranks, there were never any role models or discussions happening that would have allowed me to better understand myself and my sexuality. At times it felt like a very isolating experience. Events like these encourage us to have an open dialogue and make it easier for the next generation of athletes to feel that they are not alone.”’
He’s certainly come a long way in his retirement. One of the interviews from his playing days (see photo below) has Roddick and then-girlfriend Mandy Moore talking about what a catch Brian would be for some lucky girl. For his part, Brian talked about what qualities his “dream girl” would have to have.
Congratulations to him for going on to live his truth and most of all, for being out and proud and speaking about it.
He’s an inspiration and hopefully this will encourage other male players – still active or retired – to be proud of who they are and go public when they are ready.