Renée Richards


At the time Renée Richards competed in the 1976 United States Open Tennis Championships transsexualism was an unexplored variable in professional athletics. Richards, a trans woman, was required to take a chromosome test, which she refused; when she was barred from competing, she sued for the right to play. Her case reached the New York Supreme Court, and the judge ruled that she had been discriminated against unlawfully and must be permitted to compete. She did, and although she lost in her first singles match she made it to the doubles finals.

Before Richards became a professional tennis player and – later – tennis coach, she trained as an ophthalmologist, a practice she is still employed in at the time of this writing. She has expressed regret towards her activism, musing, “Maybe in the last analysis, maybe not even I should have been allowed to play on the women’s tour. Maybe I should have knuckled under and said, ‘That’s one thing I can’t have as my newfound right in being a woman.’ I think transsexuals have every right to play, but maybe not at the professional level, because it’s not a level playing field.” She has published several autobiographies and appeared in a 2011 documentary about her life.

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