Toowoomba-born world squash champion Rachael Grinham has publicly declared her love for fellow competitor Jenny Duncalf.
Grinham and England’s Duncalf met through the sport, falling in love after competing against each other professionally.
The pair became the first openly gay active professional squash players, telling US Squash Magazine they want to help others “feel more comfortable in their own skin”.
Grinham, 40, and Duncalf, 34, share 44 tour titles between them.
While their relationship has long been no secret in the inner sanctum of the squash world, they believe that by openly ‘coming out’ they can help others to embrace their sexuality, especially within the realms of professional sport.
“To us, our relationship has been public for many years now but we were made to realise that we are in a unique situation where our relationship could make a difference,” said Duncalf, who moved to Brisbane in 2015 to live with Grinham.
“We felt that if by openly ‘coming out in professional sport’ we could help just one person feel more comfortable and encouraged about their own journey, then it would be more than worthwhile doing so.”
Grinham echoed those sentiments, saying she doesn’t personally see it as suddenly making their relationship public.
“There was a period in the very beginning when Jen was afraid of people finding out, but we’ve not hidden it for a long time now and it’s not going to come as news to most people who know us,” she said.
“I think some people in sport, especially high profile sports, feel that they are contracted to have a certain image and are afraid that being gay would lose them fans and endorsements.
“But I also think it is way better today than it has been in the past thanks to all those who have endured tough times and rallied for gay rights.
“Twenty years ago I would have been afraid of coming out publicly but I’m proud of the way people’s minds have opened in recent years and I can certainly say that I was confident that this news would get more positive feedback today than negative.
“If we can help others, then it’s worth doing.”
Speaking to the magazine, Duncalf added: “To travel with your best friend and closest companion around the world and share experiences is amazing – we’re very fortunate.
“For many of my successful squash years, I felt like I was almost on a constant holiday and didn’t think life could get much better.
“Of course when it comes to playing against each other it can be tricky – especially for me if I lost!”
Grinham added: “It’s great for us to have each other at events, whether you have a bad loss or a great win, you have your person there to share it with which is great.
“It can be tough though if you’re both playing and one has lost. As the one who has lost you need to be aware that the other is still playing and probably doesn’t need that negative energy – and the same goes for the one still playing, they need to keep up the positive energy but also need to be aware the other probably doesn’t need it all in their face.
“It can be a little complicated, but overall I’d say we are definitely lucky to have each other.”