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 09 2009 12:00 AM ET

In an e-mail, Richards
wrote that competitive sport requires a "level playing field,
juniors against juniors, seniors against seniors, men against
men, women against women." She added that the judge in her
1976 case rightly opined that future cases should be treated on
an individual basis and that her case should not be viewed as
precedent-setting.

"He did this mainly
because of my age -- 41 -- knowing that I was not going to take
all the prize money away from Chrissie, Tracy, Martina,"
wrote Richards, who is a practicing ophthalmologist in New York
City. "Since that time, whenever I have been consulted, I
always hark back to his decision, and then warn that someday a
good player, 22 years old, would come along and dominate the
game. Has that happened now? I have warned about this for
years."

Richards has always
maintained that she sued not to further her tennis career but
simply to continue competing. She said a transsexual or
intersex person that had male development to some degree past
puberty could have an advantage over genetic women in terms of
bone mass and muscle size that was not completely undone by
surgery. "Now, whether she dominates the field or not remains
to be seen. How well does she play? How much stronger is she
than the other players her age?" she wrote.

TV commentator Pam
Shriver, who played against Richards, said the game probably
needs to make space for Gronert. "This person has to be able
to sit somewhere in life," said the tennis hall-of-famer.
"I can't see her playing on the men's tour. If she
has female equipment, I don't think she can be
banned."

Tags: Sports

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