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Van Uytvanck hoping Wimbledon run has positive impact

July 7, 2018
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Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium returns the ball to Anett Kontaveit of Estonia during their women's singles match, on the sixth day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Saturday July 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

LONDON (AP) — Alison Van Uytvanck is hoping her run to the second week of Wimbledon can give young gay people more confidence.

The Belgian, who in March said that she was in a relationship with another woman, advanced to the fourth round at the All England Club for the first time with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Anett Kontaveit on Saturday.

The 47th-ranked Van Uytvanck had only won one match in her four previous main-draw appearances at Wimbledon, but announced her presence with a second-round victory over defending champion Garbine Muguruza on Thursday.

“I didn’t come out because I wanted to be a role model,” Van Uytvanck said. “I’m just happy that I could hopefully get younger people to have confidence to just come out.”

Van Uytvanck has reached the second week of a Grand Slam before — she was a quarterfinalist at the French Open in 2015.

However, outside of that tournament and this one, she has only amassed three Grand Slam wins.

Her partner Greet Minnen — who is also a Belgian tennis player, ranked 546th — has been courtside throughout the tournament.

“We’re a good team,” Van Uytvanck said. “She’s also a tennis player. ... So it’s really good she understands the game.”

There was also a timely element to Van Uytvanck achieving her career-best performance at Wimbledon.

While she was on court, tens of thousands of people had begun participating in a parade celebrating Britain’s LGBT community in the city center.

With a fourth-round match against 14th-seeded Daria Kasatkina of Russia to come on Monday, Van Uytvanck wasn’t ready for any celebrations.

“Somebody told me it’s the Pride (parade) today,” Van Uytvanck said with a laugh. “But I will just get some rest.”

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