Former US basketball star Candice Wiggins says she was bullied during her career for being heterosexual.
Wiggins, 30, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the culture in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) was “very, very harmful”.
The four-time All-American guard blamed the “toxic” environment for her decision to quit in 2016 after eight years with four league teams.
But another player accused Wiggins of reinforcing unfair stereotypes.
Wiggins was considering a contract extension with New York Liberty last year when she abruptly announced her retirement.
“I didn’t like the culture inside the WNBA, and without revealing too much, it was toxic for me,” she told the Union Tribune.
“My spirit was being broken.”
She added: “Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge.
“I would say 98% of the women in the WNBA are gay women. It was a conformist type of place.
“There was a whole different set of rules they [the other players] could apply.”
Wiggins – who is now training to become a professional beach volleyball player – graduated as Stanford’s all-time leading scorer and was selected by the Minnesota Lynx as the No 3 pick in 2008.
Her comments stirred controversy among other league players.
The Chicago Sky’s Imani Boyette posted an open letter to Wiggins about her remarks, urging her to consider other players’ experiences.
“Do you understand what you’ve done? You’ve reinforced unfair stereotypes,” she wrote.
“A person’s orientation is their own and their business.
“Now, because of your article, it is no longer out of bounds to ask WNBA players about their sexuality.
“Do they ask any male stars in the NBA about their sexuality? Is it even a conversation?”
But Los Angeles Sparks forward and WNBA Players Association president Nneka Ogwumike said Wiggins’ allegations should be taken seriously.
“Anything that impacts an inclusive culture should be taken seriously,” she said in a statement. – bbc