Editor's note: October is LGBT History Month. Each day this month, Equality Forum will feature one LGBT icon who has made notable contributions to society and SDGLN will publish the story in the Causes section.
Amélie Mauresmo was the World No. 1 tennis player. She won 25 career titles including two Grand Slams. In 2004, she received an Olympic Silver medal in tennis singles.
Born July 5, 1979 in Laye, France, Mauresmo began playing tennis at age 4. Her talent on the court was quickly recognized, and her parents enrolled her in private lessons. At 17, she was named Junior World Champion after winning both the French Open and Wimbledon.
In 1999, two years into her professional career, Mauresmo came out during the Australian Open. She publicly embraced her girlfriend after defeating the World No. 1 player, Lindsay Davenport. Mauresmo credited her on-court success to coming to terms with her sexuality. She is the first tennis player to come out without losing any major sponsors.
Mauresmo is one of only a few tennis players to reach World No. 1 ranking before winning a Grand Slam title. Known for her powerful one-handed backhand and net play, she has defeated top-ranked players such as Venus and Serena Williams, Martina Hingis, and Justine Henin. In 2003, she helped France capture the Fed Cup.
In 2007, the president of France presented Mauresmo with the Legion of Honor. Two years later, she announced her retirement.
Since retiring, Mauresmo has coached other professional tennis players. In 2009, she became ambassador of the Sport for Life Foundation, a Swiss-based organization dedicated to supporting young athletes.
"I want to share the experiences I’ve gathered along my career with young people so they cannot walk into traps," she says. "Respect for values is the foundation for success!"
Mauresmo resides in Geneva, Switzerland.
Constance McMillen became a poster child for LGBT rights after asking permission to bring her girlfriend to the prom. When her school responded by cancelling the prom, McMillen took legal action.
As a senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi, McMillen challenged the prom rules forbidding same-sex couples from attending and girls from wearing tuxedos. When the school cancelled the prom, students responded by harassing McMillen.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit requesting that the court order the school to hold an inclusive prom. The case was settled when a U.S. District Court ruled that McMillen’s First Amendment rights had been violated. The Itawamba County School District consented to a judgment in which it paid McMillen $35,000 and $81,000 in attorneys’ fees.
After the settlement, the school held a prom. Only McMillen and seven learning disabled students attended. Parents organized a separate prom that all other students attended, but to which McMillen was not invited.
The school district agreed to implement policies that would prevent future discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for extracurricular and educational activities. This was groundbreaking for a Mississippi school district.
McMillen’s story received national attention. Glamour magazine named her Woman of the Year Award in 2010, and she appeared on national television shows including “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” where she received a $30,000 scholarship.
She was invited to the White House and served as Grand Marshal of the New York Gay Pride Parade.
McMillen transferred to a school in Jackson, Mississippi, and graduated in 2011. She enrolled at Northeast Mississippi Community College to study psychology.
For more information about LGBT History Month, click HERE.
Top left photo: Amelie Mauresmo; bottom left photo: Constance McMillen