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James Blake speaks out against Russia’s anti-gay laws, homophobia in sports

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James Blake announced that he would retire after the U.S. Open to spend more time with his wife and daughter. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

James Blake announced that he would retire after the U.S. Open to spend more time with his wife and daughter. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — James Blake, whose singles career ended with a first-round loss at the U.S. Open on Wednesday, was never a player to mince words or back down from what he believed to be right and wrong.

His match was scheduled on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. He was honored to take the court on such a historic day, and even after the tough five-set loss that sent him into retirement, he still took time reflect on how far the civil rights movement has come in 50 years, and how much work still needs to be done, specifically in the area of gay rights.

“To have something that was a demonstration 50 years ago that still resonates today and still is sort of a beacon for what Martin Luther King did, how much he progressed the civil rights movement, I’m proud that I’m in a situation now where I don’t have to face the same things he had to face, I don’t have to face the same things my dad had to face,” Blake said.

“But I also don’t think we’re at the finish line, and I’m proud to be a part of hopefully helping get toward the finish line. I think it’s a good reason to celebrate the 50th anniversary, to let people know that the civil rights movement isn’t over. There’s also new topics that need to be dealt with.

Top moments from James Blake’s 14-year career

“I think we need to embrace the fact that there are people that want to live their life the way they want to live their life and should be given that right. I’m happy that [The Defense of Marriage Act] was overturned. I’m happy that things like that are getting better. But we’re definitely not at the finish line.”

In May, Blake announced that he had joined up with Athlete Ally, an organization aimed at putting an end to homophobia in sports. Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish are also ambassadors for the organization.

“Sports is a great equalizer,” Blake said. “Some of the proudest times I’ve been on the court is Davis Cup and the Olympics. They’re supposed to embrace sportsmanship. It’s a level playing field. You go out, you’re good enough to win. It has nothing to do with what you do the rest of your time.”

Blake went on to condemn the anti-gay laws in Russia, which have already raised questions of a potential boycott of the Sochi Olympics.

“It’s sad,” Blake said. “Like I said, we’re still in this fight. I don’t know if a boycott would change that. I don’t know all the politics that go into a boycott, but I know that policy is unacceptable. I wouldn’t want to be over there.

“I think everyone at this point, when you look at numbers, someone in your circle, whether it’s a family member or a friend, is gay, transgender or bisexual. You should appreciate that those people are valued members of society, people that are doing something good in the world. They should feel comfortable to live their lives. … I think any sort of policy that discriminates against them, that excludes them, is completely unfair in today’s day and age. That’s why I say we’re 50 years out and there are still things going on that are discriminatory.”

  • Published On Aug 29, 2013
  • 8 comments
    bambam824
    bambam824

    Martin Luther King was an honorable man whose heroics certainly launched the civil rights movement for people of color. The country will prosper when people begin asking what they can do for their country, instead of what their country can do for them.

    MCB
    MCB

    James is a class act. Unlike some. 

    Are they concerned about non-gay pedophiles in Russia? You realize that the vast majority of pedophiles are straight, right? Mask it all you want, this is flat-out homophobia. Enjoy your time in the Dark Ages.

    PedroZozaya
    PedroZozaya

    It's funny, that the Americans are always talking about "freedom of speech", but ALWAYS lie and manipulate the facts when talking about Russia.

    This law is not against gay propaganda. This law protects children. Russia has imposed fines (money) for the "promotion of homosexuality AMONG CHILDREN." Citizens of other countries can be arrested for 15 days (before deportation). Nobody homosexuals does not put outlaws. They can even "propagandize", but among adults.

    You need to call a spade a spade. People who oppose "anti-gay law", actually support gay propaganda AMONG CHILDREN (Russians children). That is, they support gay-pedophiles.

    If Americans really worried "gay rights", then one would have to start with China and the Arab countries, U.S. allies. There real problems in homosexuals, but the Americans on this a blind eye and on political reasons foment "anti-Russian hysteria." You fantastic hypocrites! Shame on you!

    Americans are the most deceitful nation in the world. America has turned into the Empire of Lies. 

    muser
    muser

    Shut up James. 

    Mike129
    Mike129

    @bambam824 yeah like him being a member of the communist party was a good thing.

    davide1
    davide1

    @muser you should shut up. At least was smart enough to get into Harvard and good enough to be a top 10 tennis player. What have you done with your life

    davide1
    davide1

    @PedroZozaya is this a race to which country has the worst human rights policies or is it a statement made by an individual? James ie correct in his condemnation of the new Russian policy. He isn't representing the views of all Americans. Gays do not not promote the gay agenda among children. That is a homophobic ideology. If parents don't want their little kids seeing gay things they can turn the frigging tv off. just remember gay kids are the children of straight parents. Your argument is ridiculous and absolutely stupid