Openly gay tennis legend Martina Navratilova says Jason Collins' coming out will benefit other gay players.

Collins, an NBA free agent, came out gay in a cover story for Sports Illustrated, making him the U.S.'s first openly gay male professional athlete.

(Related: NBA's Jason Collins: First openly gay professional athlete.)

Speaking to CNN, Navratilova said Collins was paving the way for other athletes to come out.

“Now that Jason has kind of broke that barrier it will be a lot easier and with each player that comes out it will be less and less of a big deal, which is exactly what we want it to be,” Navratilova said. “We don't want it to be an issue, but until we have equal rights under the law and equal protection under the law it will be an issue. And I'm sure that Jason has helped move that ball forward a little bit.” (The video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)