Renée Richards circa 1976

Renée Richards (born Richard Raskind August 19, 1934, in New York City) is an ophthalmologist, professional tennis player, and transwoman. In 1975, she underwent sex reassignment surgery.

She is most known for initially being denied entry into the 1976 U.S. Open by the United States Tennis Association, citing an unprecedented women-born-women policy. She disputed the ban, and the New York Supreme Court ruled in her favor in 1977. This was a landmark decision in favour of transsexual rights.

Early life

Raskind moved to Forest Hills at age 6 and was ranked among the top-10 Eastern and national juniors in the late 1940s and early ‘50s. He was captain of his high school tennis team at the Horace Mann School in New York City, and at 15 he won the the Eastern Private Schools Interscholastic singles title.

Raskind went to Yale and played on the men's tennis team there, playing first singles and captaining the team in 1954.

After Yale, Raskind went to medical school at the University of Rochester, then served in the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander. He pursued a career as an eye surgeon, specializing in strabismus (eye misalignment).

He reached the final of the men's national 35-and-over championships in 1972. [2]

Becoming legally female

In the mid-1960s Raskind traveled in Europe dressed as a woman, intending to see Dr. Georges Burou, a famous gynecological surgeon at Clinique Parc in Casablanca. However, he changed his mind and returned to New York, where he married and fathered one son. As stated earlier, however, a second attempt in 1975 (after being referred to surgeon Roberto C. Granato, Sr. by Harry Benjamin[1]) was successful and Raskind went on to become legally female.

Tennis career as Renée Richards

As Renée Richards, she subsequently played from 1977 to 1981.[2] She was ranked as high as 20th overall (in February 1979), and her highest ranking at the end of a year was 22nd (in 1977).

In her first professional event as a female, she was a finalist in women's doubles (with Betty Ann Stewart, in 1977), and continued to have a successful career afterwards.

Her greatest successes on court were reaching the doubles final at the U.S. Open in 1977 with Betty Ann Stuart--the pair lost a close match to Martina Navratilova and Betty Stove, and winning the 35-and-over women's singles.[3]

Richards was twice a semi-finalist in mixed doubles (with Ilie Nastase) at the U.S. Open.

In 1979 she defeated Nancy Richey for the Open’s 35s singles title. Richards posted wins over Hana Mandlikova, Sylvia Hanika, Virginia Ruzici, and Pam Shriver. “I think Pam was about 10,” she said.[4]

She later coached Martina Navratilova to two Wimbledon wins.

She was inducted into the USTA Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000.[4][5]


In 1986 she published her autobiography Second Serve, which was made into a TV-movie starring Vanessa Redgrave as Raskind/Richards.

In 2007 Richards published her second autobiography, No Way Renee: The Second Half of My Notorious Life.


Richards' father was Dr. David Raskind (an orthopedic surgeon), and her mother was one of the first female psychiatrists in the United States. Her sister, Josephine, is a retired psychiatrist. Richards' son Nicholas Raskin is a filmmaker and stockbroker.


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