In celebration of Pride Month, throughout June USTA Florida recognizes all of those in the LGBTQ+ community whose talents and dedication help to grow the great game of tennis every day — at every level. We applaud them all for making tennis a better and more inclusive sport, and for making the face of our game more accurately reflect the dynamic diversity of our country.
Natasha Torres was born in New York, raised in Puerto Rico, and moved to Florida 15 years ago where she now resides in Wilton Manors. She has been playing tennis for more than 10 years and is an active player at the Lauderdale Tennis Club in Fort Lauderdale. When she’s not on the court, she’s working independently as a hairstylist.
What can you share with us about your personal journey as a transgender woman?
My journey as trans woman was a little hard. It is not easy to live your true self in a society where a lot of people don’t accept the fact that we are all different in our own ways. I am happy with the person I have become no matter what obstacle gets in my way.
What role has tennis played in your life – when did you start playing, and how has it helped you?
Tennis for me plays a big role in my life nowadays because it helps me with stress and it takes my mind to a competitive level in life. It also has helped me get to know a lot of nice people outside the LGBTQ+ community.
Can you talk about the support you have from your teammates?
In the beginning, it wasn’t easy to find support because there is not a lot of transgender women playing tennis in South Florida. Thanks to Kevin Sims, an amazing person and may he rest in peace, I have met the most supportive people in tennis through him. We all get along, everyone is very respectful and they also protect my rights as a tennis player and as a human being.
Can you talk about some of the challenges you have had playing tennis as a transgender woman and how you navigated those?
The biggest challenge I have overcome as a trans woman is acceptance. Everyone has a different opinion about transgender players playing tennis or any sports. The way I overcome those challenges is by ignoring those overly opinionated people and keep playing. As long as I’m playing by the rules, any other opinion is just that, an opinion.
Why is it important for tennis and all sports to embrace the transgender community, and what can USTA Florida do as an organization to create an open and positive environment for all people?
It is important for tennis and any sport to embrace the transgender community because everyone should have the opportunity to play the sport that they want to play no matter who they are. We all want to be included and respected for who we are as human beings. The USTA can be more welcoming to the trans community by promoting the sport for those who are in transition and protecting them. Players who bully and disrespect others for being part of the LGBTQ+ community, their race or ethnicity, should not be tolerated.
What advice do you have for members of the LGBTQ+ community about getting involved in tennis?
My advice is… let’s play, have fun and snatch some trophies!
What does Pride mean to you?
Pride for me means accepting yourself for who you are and not letting anyone put you down. LOVE YOURSELF!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Out of everything I have accomplished in my life, I will say that tennis has help me a lot – especially when you meet people that are very accepting no matter where you go. Once people get to know you more, you open doors that you didn’t even know existed!
USTA Florida believes tennis is for everyone. For more information on how you can support, participate in, or find tennis play opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community in Florida, visit USTAFlorida.com/Diversity.