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 Douglas Robson
An Advocate.com exclusive posted April 9, 2009
Women's professional tennis is coming to grips with one of the most unusual cases in its 36-year history: an intersex player competing on the tour.
Sarah Gronert, a 22-year-old German, was born with both male and female characteristics. Gronert, who had surgery at 19 and is legally a woman, has been cleared by both the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the WTA Tour to compete -- unlike male-to-female transsexual Renée Richards, who was forced to sue to secure the right to play on the women's tour in the 1970s. “It's a one-of-a-kind case,” says out lesbian Martina Navratilova, an 18-time Grand Slam singles champion who now comments for cable outlet the Tennis Channel.
An ITF spokesman confirmed by e-mail that Gronert “is legally and biologically a woman and entitled to play on the ITF and WTA professional circuits.” The ITF oversees the four Grand Slams and tournaments that fall below the main WTA circuit. A WTA official said the tour became aware of Gronert's case last spring and conducted a review with a medical delegate during the summer and fall of 2008. Gronert requested the review, the official said.
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This is a service of the Organisation Intersex International