Former WNBA star Candice Wiggins claimed in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune on Monday that she abruptly left the league last year because her teammates harassed her for being heterosexual.
"It wasn't like my dreams came true in the WNBA. It was quite the opposite," Wiggins said.
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Wiggins, 30, retired from the Minnesota Lynx in 2015 after major accomplishments led to her national recognition. She was the 3rd overall draft pick from Stanford in 2008, a four-time All-American, the sixth player named Woman of the Year as a rookie, and she won a championship with the Lynx.
The former WNBA star had planned to stay in the league for a couple more seasons and considered extending her contract with the New York Liberty, her fourth WNBA team, but decided to retire because of the "toxic environment" and "depressing state" of the league.
"I wanted to play two more seasons of WNBA, but the experience didn't lend itself to my mental state," Wiggins said. "It was a depressing state in the WNBA."
While there is not any formal data on the percentage of gay WNBA players, Wiggins estimates 98 percent of the league is homosexual.
"Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge," Wiggins said. "I would say 98 percent 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 said that the WNBA culture pushes players to act and look like men in the NBA.
"It comes to a point where you get compared so much to the men, you come to mirror the men," she said. "So many people think you have to look like a man, play like a man to get respect. I was the opposite. I was proud to a be a woman, and it didn't fit well in that culture."
Wiggins came into the league as a nationally popular figure, which led to even more harassment from teammates during her rookie year.
"There was a lot of jealousy and competition, and we're all fighting for crumbs," Wiggins said. "People were deliberately trying to hurt me all of the time. I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season. I'd never been thrown to the ground so much."
"There were horrible things happening to me every day, and that connection to the outside world kept me going," she added.
Wiggins is now writing an autobiography and training to be a beach volleyball player.