As the Aus­tralian Open kicks off, sports commentator James Bracey dis­cusses his dream job, his gay mate and the Nadal/ Fed­erer bro­mance!


Chats about the Aussie Open, his gay mate, and the Nadal/Fed­erer bro­mance.

DNA: Con­grat­u­la­tions on your new gig com­men­tat­ing for the Aus­tralian Open. James Bracey: Thank you! It’s sur­real. If you’d asked me if there was a chance of me host­ing the ten­nis cov­er­age of the Aus­tralian Open, I’d have laughed. I’ve spent so many sum­mers watch­ing the ten­nis at home with my sis­ter and now I’m the commentator. How cool is that? And, along­side some leg­ends of the game: Jim Courier, Todd Wood­bridge and Sam Groth. Yeah. When my boss took me out for din­ner with Jim Courier and Todd Wood­bridge it re­ally hit home. I’ve been watch­ing them for years and here they were telling me sto­ries about their ca­reers.

Who do you think will be big at this year’s Aus­tralian Open?

Nick Kyr­gios is al­ways go­ing to be the head­line. That’s in­evitable be­cause he has the en­ter­tain­ment value and the X fac­tor. We know he can go deep into the tour­na­ment, yet he could also be gone early. Alex de Min­aur is the ris­ing star we’ve been look­ing for. He’s only a teenager but his head’s screwed on and he’s quite the player.

And the Women?

Naomi Osaka. We saw her win the US Open in that con­tro­ver­sial fi­nal against Ser­ena Wil­liams. To win like that was not ideal, con­sid­er­ing that in the end no­body was talk­ing about her achieve­ment. The way she held her­self was amaz­ing, and if she con­tin­ues on that tra­jec­tory she’ll be very suc­cess­ful.

What about Thailand’s openly gay Luk­sika Kumkhum win­ning the Mumbai Open?

Talk about mak­ing a state­ment! Luk­sika has spo­ken many times of the chal­lenges of be­ing openly gay and com­pet­ing in so many dif­fer­ent coun­tries with dif­fer­ent views on sex­u­al­ity. If want to break down bar­ri­ers, that’s a great stage to do it on!

Ten­nis has seen quite a few openly gay women play­ers but, strangely, no men. Why do you think that is?

That’s a re­ally good point. I have no idea, but if you look at some­one like Martina Navratilova, she’s been an un­be­liev­able am­bas­sador for the gay com­mu­nity and for ten­nis. Think­ing across all sports, openly gay men are few and far be­tween. I haven’t heard of any in ten­nis but you know they’re out there.

Do you have a gay mate?

Yeah, I get two for the price of one with my best mates! They’re twins; one’s straight and

one’s gay and it’s a hell of a jour­ney be­ing mates with them be­cause they’re great fun. We grew up to­gether and our en­tire so­cial scene is the three of us, and ev­ery­one else comes along for the ride. We’re al­ways to­gether. In fact, Nathan was very ex­cited when he heard I was do­ing an in­ter­view with DNA.

Did Nathan come out to you?

So… we grew up on the New South Wales’ Cen­tral Coast and, at the time, there weren’t many openly gay peo­ple in our com­mu­nity. We cer­tainly had our thoughts that Nathan was gay, and he even­tu­ally de­vel­oped the courage to come out, and we couldn’t have been hap­pier for him. He’s such a beau­ti­ful per­son. In fact, watch­ing Nathan come out was quite lib­er­at­ing for me; to see the per­son he has be­come and the con­fi­dence he’s de­vel­oped over time.

Have you wit­nessed ho­mo­pho­bia in the sport­ing world?

Not di­rectly, but it’s some­thing we’ve cov­ered heav­ily through sports me­dia, such as with sledges that have just been out­ra­geous. They have re­ally put a blight on cer­tain games. The Is­rael Fo­lau is­sue has been a big one, which was de­bated on our Sports Sun­day pro­gram. We looked at how Rugby Aus­tralia has dealt with that, and how com­plex their re­la­tion­ship has be­come with Is­rael. In terms of erad­i­cat­ing ho­mo­pho­bia in sport – we are slowly get­ting there. There’s cer­tainly no place for it.

An ath­letes’ sex­u­al­ity shouldn’t be an is­sue, should it?

Ab­so­lutely not, and that’s why it sur­prises me about there not be­ing any openly gay male ten­nis pros. You’d as­sume there are gay men play­ing on the world cir­cuit. We haven’t heard from them, and ob­vi­ously that’s their choice, but I think in this day and age it’s just a com­plete non-is­sue.

You’re a good looker – do you get ap­proached by guys?

[Laughs.] You’ve got me blush­ing! There’s been the oc­ca­sional so­cial me­dia mes­sage with some sort of en­quiry, ev­ery now and then. There’s no harm in peo­ple check­ing. I’ll gladly take some bat­ting eye­lids and a pick-up line any day but I’m hap­pily mar­ried to my wife, Margo.

If you were gay, who would be the one?

In terms of a man crush, how can you go past the Hemsworth boys? They tick ev­ery box.

All the Hemsworths? Greedy!

[Laugh­ing.] When it comes to the Hemsworths, you’d take any of them, wouldn’t you? Chris, Liam and, er…


[Laugh­ing.] Yes. Speak­ing of good-look­ing rel­a­tives, I only dis­cov­ered re­cently that my third cousin is Luke Bracey, an ac­tor in Hol­ly­wood and model for Ralph Lau­ren. Now he’s a good looker! He’s got all the good traits in

Watch­ing Nathan come out was quite lib­er­at­ing; to see the per­son he has be­come… He’s such a beau­ti­ful per­son.

our fam­ily! But I’m happy to play sec­ond fid­dle in the Bracey ranks.

Now, we must dis­cuss the Fed­erer/Nadal bro­mance?

Oh, those two have al­ways got­ten along. Over the years a mu­tual re­spect has de­vel­oped be­tween them, with this great ri­valry and friend­ship. Their ca­reers have helped each other be­cause they’ve had so many great bat­tles on the court. I’ve also seen Roger help­ing Rafael out with open­ing his ten­nis acad­e­mies in Spain. Speak­ing of Span­ish, Car­los Moya! Now he’s a looker. A ten out of ten!

What dance song gets you bust­ing a move? That’s easy – Sha­nia Twain’s Man! I Feel Like A Woman. My dad was into Sha­nia and he took my sis­ter and I to her con­cert. That song be­came our an­them. If I’m ever at a party and it comes on, it’s straight to the dance floor!

What ad­vice can you give peo­ple en­ter­ing the world of me­dia?

Start young. I’m do­ing what I do now be­cause I re­alised that uni­ver­sity alone wasn’t enough. I stud­ied at the Uni­ver­sity of New­cas­tle do­ing Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and ma­jor­ing in Jour­nal­ism, but I re­mem­ber sit­ting in a first-year sem­i­nar where they asked ev­ery­one what they wanted to be. Ev­ery­one said the same thing – a TV reporter, host or ra­dio broad­caster. I thought, this is one room in one uni­ver­sity in one coun­try. How the hell am I go­ing to get ahead of all these peo­ple aim­ing for the same thing? So I did a broad­cast­ing course where I was taught how to speak prop­erly. The Sky News sports ed­i­tor came in ask­ing if there were any kids in­ter­ested in pro­duc­ing some sports con­tent. That was April 2004 and the rest is his­tory. You’ve come a long way since your days on Sky News.

I was re­ally lucky to be there for 13 years, start­ing when I was 19. I found my­self cov­er­ing the Bei­jing, London and Rio Olympics, the Van­cou­ver and Sochi Winter Olympics, the Com­mon­wealth Games in In­dia and Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. It’s pretty amaz­ing to have had those ex­pe­ri­ences and been paid! What’s your favourite fash­ion look?

I’m your quin­tes­sen­tial T-shirt, shorts and thongs guy. I live in a beachy area and it’s just easy. At Chan­nel Nine I’m un­der the guid­ance of our fash­ion team and make-up crew, which I didn’t have at Sky News. We used to get ad­vice and clothes and I’d do my own make-up.

On the beach is it board­ies or bud­gies?

I’ve spent a lot of time in budgie smug­glers, and I don’t shy away from them. I ac­tu­ally pre­fer to go to the beach in bud­gies.

And briefs, fit­ted box­ers or free-balling? Be­ing a shorts, T-shirt and thongs kinda guy, it goes hand-in-hand that I’m also a free­baller. In fact, I’m go­ing com­mando right now!

MORE: The Aus­tralian Open will be avail­able ex­clu­sively on Nine and 9Now from Jan­uary 14.

DNA: IF YOU WERE GAY, WHO’D BE THE ONE?JAMES: How could you go past the Hemsworth boys? You’d take any of them, wouldn’t you?

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