Former WNBA player Candice Wiggins says she was bullied, culture was 'harmful'

WNBA player Candice Wiggins says she made enemies during her time in the pro-ball league because of her sexuality.

In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Wiggins says her heterosexuality made her an outlier in the WNBA.

"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."

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WNBA Player Candice Wiggins through the years
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WNBA Player Candice Wiggins through the years
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 22: Candice Wiggins #2 of the New York Liberty handles the ball against the Los Angeles Sparks in a WNBA game at Staples Center on July 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
July 09 2015: Ivory Latta (12) of the Washington Mystics defends against Candice Wiggins (2) of the New York Liberty during a WNBA game at Verizon Center, in Washington D.C. Liberty won 79-76. . (Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 21: Candice Wiggins of the New York Liberty poses for a head shot during media day on May 21, 2015 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 10: WNBA Basketball Player Candice Wiggins attends 1st Annual Runway Wonderland Children's Benefit By Trina's Kids Foundation at Hubble Studio on December 10, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Bezjian/WireImage)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 17: WNBA Player Candice Wiggins of the West All-Stars watches player announcements before the NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Sports Basketball Game on Center Court at Jam Session during the NBA All-Star Weekend on February 17, 2013 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 21: Candice Wiggins #11 of the Minnesota Lynx stretches before playing against the Indiana Fever in Game Four of the 2012 WNBA Finals on October 21, 2012 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 19: Candice Wiggins #11 of the Minnesota Lynx dribbles the ball up court against the Indiana Fever during Game Three of the 2012 WNBA Finals on October 19, 2012 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 19: Candice Wiggins #11 of the Minnesota Lynx looks at the benches during a break in action against the Indiana Fever during Game Three of the 2012 WNBA Finals on October 19, 2012 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 28: Candice Wiggins #11 of the Minnesota Lynx receives the WNBA Community Assist Award prior to the WNBA game against the San Antonio Silver Stars on August 28, 2012 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 5: Nneka Ogwumike #30 of the Los Angeles Sparks is defended by Candice Wiggins #11, Taj McWilliams-Franklin #8 and Rebekkah Brunson #32 of the Minnesota Lynx at Staples Center on July 5, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 23: Candice Wiggins of the Minnesota Lynx has her hair and make-up done before the Catwalk for a Cure fashion show fundraiser put on by the Minnesota Lynx players and coaches to benefit the Lynx Foundation to raise money for Minnesotans affected by breast cancer and to support breast cancer research on August 23, 2012 at Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 15: Candice Wiggins #11 of the Minnesota Lynx calls for the ball against the Phoenix Mercury on June 15, 2012 at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 21: Maya Moore #23 and Candice Wiggins #11 of the Minnesota Lynx celebrate after the game against the New York Liberty in the game on June 21, 2012 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 24: Candice Wiggins #11 of the Minnesota Lynx runs onto the court to start warming up for the game against the Los Angeles Sparks in on May 24, 2012 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 07: Candice Wiggins #11 of the Minnesota Lynx poses for a portrait during 2012 Media Day on May 7, 2012 at the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx LifeTime Fitness Training Center at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 30: Candice Wiggins #11 of the Minnesota Lynx speaks to the crowd after the game against the Washington Mystics about HIV / AIDS Awareness during the HIV / AIDS Awareness Game on August 30, 2011 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 02: Candice Wiggins #11 of the Minnesota Lynx plays catch with a glove that belongs to T.C., mascot for the Minnesota Twins on July 2, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 22: Seimone Augustus #33 and Candice Wiggins #11 of the Minnesota Lynx meet the media following Game One of the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Mercury during the 2011 WNBA Playoffs on September 22, 2011 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 2: Candice Wiggins #11 and Maya Moore #23 of the Minnesota Lynx throw out ceremonial pitches before the game between the Minnesota Twins and the Milwaukee Brewers on July 2, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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Wiggins says she experienced a "very, very harmful" culture throughout her eight-year career in the WNBA, describing the WNBA as the "survival league."

"There was a lot of jealousy and competition, and we're all fighting for crumbs," Wiggins said. "The way I looked, the way I played – those things contributed to the tension."

The news outlet reported that at least a dozen WNBA players -- current and former -- have come out as gay.

"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. The message was: 'We want you to know we don't like you.' "

RELATED: Notable female athletes throughout history

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Notable female athletes throughout history
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Notable female athletes throughout history
EDMONTON, AB - JUNE 22: Abby Wambach #20 of the United StaAbby Wambach #20 looks on while taking on Colombia in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Round of 16 match at Commonwealth Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
HARRISON, NY - JUNE 11: Michelle Wie of the USA watches her tee shot on the sixth hole during the first round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship on the West Course at the Westchester Country Club on June 11, 2015 in Harrison, New York. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images for KPMG). (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
PASADENA, : Brandi Chastain of the US shouts after falling on her knees after she scored the last goal in a shoot-out in the finals of the Women's World Cup with China at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California 10 July 1999. The US won 5-4 on penalties. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/HECTOR MATA (Photo credit should read HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty Images)
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Wiggins, 30, who announced her retirement last year, described feeling disheartened by the culture of a league she felt pressured women to mimic male players, and she believes the bullying she experienced was partly due to the WNBA being an arm of the NBA.

"It comes to a point where you get compared so much to the men, you come to mirror the men,' Wiggins 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."

The league in its entirety, Wiggins said, is struggling for relevancy.

SEE ALSO: WNBA to market to LGBT community

"Nobody cares about the WNBA," Wiggins said. "Viewership is minimal. Ticket sales are very low. They give away tickets, and people don't come to the game."

"I'm not trying to crush anyone's dreams or aspirations, or the dreams of the WNBA," Wiggins said. "I want things to be great, but at the same time it's important for me to be honest in my reflections."

Meanwhile, in her post-WNBA life, Wiggins says that she has set her sights on a new sport, now aspiring to pursue pro-beach volleyball and possibly compete in the Olympics.

She also says she has begun writing an autobiography on her journals as a WNBA player, "The WNBA Diaries."

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