The story of Sarah Gronert has been at the back of my mind for a while, and a new Advocate article has finally spurred me to post about her. She's an intersex (the I in LGBTQQI) player who has been cleared to play on the WTA Tour. The case is a first of its kind in women's tennis, as far as we know. Years ago, Rene Richards' case established that the U.S. Open essentially had to allow a male-to-female transsexual to play after gender-reassignment surgery and some other stipulations. This case is similar but different: Gronert is female and was born with genitalia of both sexes. The WTA already has rules (thanks in part to Richards) that mandated she must be able to play because she has female chromosomes. Plus, the battle Richards had to wage to win her right play was 10 times as difficult as Gronert's battle.
I'm glad that the door's been cleared for her to play. That's great! To be born with both male and female genitalia has to be so tough psychologically, especially given the torment so many must rain down on someone who is intersex. She's presently ranked 574 in the world with a career record of 23-12; So don't expect to see her in a Grand Slam final anytime soon. But at least one coach thinks she has an advantage, and that she'll be in the world's top 50 very soon.
From the New York Daily News:
"There is no girl who can hit serves like that, not even Venus Williams," said Schlomo Tzoref, who coaches player Julia Glushko. Glushko recently lost to Gronert in a tournament in Israel.
"When I heard her story, I was in shock. I don't know if it's fair that she can compete or not. She does have an advantage, but if this is what the WTA have decided, they probably know best. If she begins to play continuously, within six months she will be within the top 50," he said.
This was the same argument used against Richards, and she didn't exactly dominate women's tennis.
What do you think the fallout would be if Gronert was able to win a Grand Slam championship? My guess: A huge backlash and public outcry awaits the first transgender or intersex athlete to take Olympic gold or Grand Slam titles.