Leif Rovsing

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameLudvig Leif Sadi•Rovsing
Used nameLeif•Rovsing
Born27 July 1887 in København (Copenhagen) (DEN)
Died17 June 1977 in Ordrup, Gentofte (DEN)
AffiliationsKB, København (DEN)
NOC Denmark


Leif Rovsing played singles and doubles at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. He competed at Wimbledon for the only time in 1910, losing early in singles and doubles. Between 1907-16 Rovsing was a five-time Danish doubles champion. In 1923 he and Erik Tegner lost in the final of the World Covered Court Championships in Barcelona.

Rovsing’s father died in 1910, leaving him a fortune which he invested wisely, which left him ample resources to devote to his tennis. In 1917, however, his career was derailed when the Danish Tennis Association banned him for homosexuality. This ban stayed in effect until 1921, when it was eased, but in 1923 the Danish Association again excluded him from tournaments. Over the next few years, Rovsing fought this in courts, but in 1928 the Danish High Court upheld the ruling to exclude him from tournaments.

This began the cause that occupied the rest of his life. Rovsing wrote, lectured, traveled, and did all he could to speak out on gay rights, especially to allow homosexuals to compete in sports. He used his fortune to support this cause. In the 1950s he wrote for gay journals. In 1955 Rovsing was arrested for having sex with a minor under 18-years-old. He was detained but eventually convicted on some of the charges, with Rovsing given a suspended sentence of 30 days in jail. Rovsing spent his last seven years in a nursing home and died in 1977. Despite what they had done to him he left his entire fortune to the Danish Tennis Fund.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1912 Summer Olympics Tennis DEN Leif Rovsing
Singles, Men (Olympic) =17
Doubles, Men (Olympic) Victor Hansen =9