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Pride In Sports History: Trans pro athlete Renée Richards

Richards won the right to play her sport over 40 years ago.

Premiere Of 'Renee' At The 2011 Tribeca Film Festival Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Pride In Sports History: Throughout Pride Month Cyd Zeigler will revisit some of the LGBTQ people who have blazed a trail in sports.

Conversation surrounding the inclusion of transgender athletes is a hot topic today, but the conversation really got jumpstarted over 40 years ago with the emergence of trans athlete Renee Richards.

Richards had competed in the men’s U.S. Open about 15 years before transitioning. After completing her transition, she wanted to take to the court in the women’s U.S. Open. When various forces in tennis colluded to stop her, she sued the United States Tennis Association in court and won the right to compete as a woman.

Richards’ stunning victory in court was the biggest of her career. While she made it to the finals of the U.S. Open in women’s doubles, her participation thanks to the New York State Supreme Court set in motion conversations about inclusion of trans athletes that are still reverberating today.