She's Got Game

Women's professional tennis has cleared the way for an intersex player to compete on the tour. But with all of the questions her case raises about gender and biology, is women's tennis ready for Sarah Gronert?

BY Advocate.com Editors

April 08 2009 11:00 PM ET

Some observers
suggested that as long as Gronert wasn't winning big titles
or taking large chunks of prize money that her case would
remain relatively uncontroversial. But that smacked of a double
standard.

"As long as she
maintains her place at the end of the pack, it's OK,"
said tennis historian Bud Collins, who has covered tennis since
the 1960s. "There would be an uproar if she were to become a
champion." Collins added that if she's been cleared to
play, "then you have to live with it."

According to
Meyer-Bahlburg, it's nearly impossible to say if Gronert
would have an advantage or disadvantage without knowing more
about her specific condition. "In theory, yes, she could,"
he said, "but normal male and females vary so much that
unless one knows what the person was before and their hormone
history, it's difficult to say if they have an undue
advantage."

If nothing else,
Gronert's case opens a new can of worms for the sport.
Navratilova competed against Renée Richards --
formerly Richard Raskind, who underwent a sex-change operation
and began competing in her 40s -- in the 1970s and was later
coached by her. She said it's a "loaded" situation.

"You don't know
if it's an advantage or not," she says. "It might not
be a level playing field if you need to take hormones to be a
full-on woman." Navratilova stressed that "if she thinks
she's a woman, then she is a woman to me."

Gronert's case is
clearly different from Richards's. Tennis authorities tried
to bar Richards from playing when she first began competing,
but she sued and the New York supreme court ruled in
her favor. Richards reached a ranking of number 20 and made the
doubles finals at the U.S. Open in 1977.

Tags: Sports

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