WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne reveals she is gay and engaged

ByJohnette Howard ESPN logo
Friday, September 2, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO -- In an upcoming interview with Vogue magazine, reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne publicly reveals she is gay and is engaged to her longtime partner.

"It was just one of those articles where they came into my home, spent a couple days with me, and [fiancee] Amanda [Clifton] is a huge part of my life," Delle Donne, a Chicago Sky star, told reporters in Rio, where she is playing for Team USA. "So to leave her out wouldn't have made any sense. It's not a coming out article or anything. I've been with her for a very long time now, and people who are close to me know that, and that's that."

The article states Delle Donne and Clifton were engaged June 2.

Even though her relationship is now public, Delle Donne said she still plans to keep her private life private.

"As the future keeps moving on, I don't plan on having our relationship out in the public and all this media on it," she said, "but obviously there's excitement right now because people see it for the first time."

In hindsight, there were clues that they were engaged in plain sight even before Wednesday's news. Weeks ago, a photo of Clifton was posted on social media showing her next to a sign that read, "Will You Marry Me?" and a caption that read, "I obviously said yes!"

The couple has been photographed frequently together in the past, too. But, as Delle Donne explained, respect for Clifton's privacy contributed to them not formally discussing their relationship before now.

"I decided I'm not at all going to hide anything," Delle Donne said.

She added that her Sky teammates have known about the relationship.

"They know Amanda," Delle Donne said. "She's always around. It's nothing crazy."

Delle Donne is now at least the third member of the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team to announce her same-sex marriage. In May 2015, center Brittney Griner was married to fellow WNBA player Glory Johnson (though Griner filed for divorce less than a month later). Two months earlier, Seimone Augustus married aspiring actress LaTaya Varnier -- but not before Team USA coach Geno Auriemma took time during a three-day national team camp to give Augustus some impromptu dancing lessons for her wedding.

Sue Bird, who is also a member of Team USA, said she's "definitely proud" of her Olympic teammate and pleased that Delle Donne's disclosure isn't as big of a deal as it could have been in years past.

"That's probably the best part of the story is that it's not a huge deal anymore," Bird said. "Definitely from a personal standpoint but from a society stand point, that's where we wanted to get. We wanted be in this place where it's not a big deal. We want to be in this place where you don't even have to make an announcement. It's a non-issue to me in a lot of ways."

The U.S. women's team opens Olympic play on Sunday.