After the United State's women's national team's victory over the Netherlands in the FIFA World Cup final, American player Kelley O'Hara made a public display of affection that resonated inside and outside the lines of the soccer field.
Billie Jean King was the first female athlete to admit to being gay, but only after being outed in a 1981 lawsuit. It hurt her image. Yesterday, after winning the world cup, Kelley O’Hara—who wasn’t previously out—ran to the sideline & kissed her girlfriend. How far we’ve come. pic.twitter.com/E2Bl9gXuXS— Jill Gutowitz (@jillboard) July 8, 2019
There's something almost unspeakably poignant about the fact that, between 1981 and 2019, not much has changed in terms of global cultures being taken aback, to one degree or another, by same-sex affection. (Seventy countries still consider homosexuality a criminal offense.)
King's quite-public plight in the 1980s was coupled, in a way, with Martina Navratilova's own experience related to legal and monetary wrangling with a former significant other. And yet, even half a decade earlier, Renee Richards engaged in her own groundbreaking off-court battle.
Pivotal moment. And let's not forget that in 1976-77, Renee Richards became the first out #LGBTQ (transgender) athlete. Herstory will not be denied: https://t.co/Vugs0kq9Ni (via @jon_wertheim) https://t.co/dbcb9wlTjV— Jonathan Scott (@jonscott9) July 8, 2019
Richards's trailblazing experience—though quite different from others, and no matter whether she stands by it in its totality now—led to King and Navratilova's out-comings. And to Amelie Mauresmo and Abby Wambach and Kelley O'Hara and Megan Rapinoe and dozens of others.