I just read Renee Richards' new book, "No Way Renee: The Second Half of My Notorious Life." As you may recall, I fell in love with tennis during the summer of '77 -- aka the summer of Renee Richards. Although I shared none of her gender confusion, there was something inherently fascinating about her to me even as a child. Looking back I think I was attracted to her because I was so confused about my sexuality, yet she was able to put who she was on display for the whole world.
A couple of years later I got to see her on a practice court at the Avon Championships of Detroit. Later while watching a match I noticed her sitting in the players' box so I went down to get her autograph. It was in the middle of a point, so Renee politely but firmly pushed me down in the chair next to her as to not be distracting. I stayed for the duration of the game and I remember just staring into her eyes hoping that somehow she would know exactly what I was going through. In reality she just signed my trusty autograph book and sent me on my way. (Trannies love their accent marks, see below.)
Nonetheless, my fascination never waned and over the years I read her autobiography, "Second Serve," and then eagerly watched the made-for-television movie of it. I remember thinking that Vanessa Redgrave was very convincing as Richard Raskind but couldn't pull off the "after" part at all! I even ended up switching to a racket she used at one time -- the Yamaha YFG20 -- although it had more to do with thinking it looked cool than her using it. More recently, however, I have read a number of conflicting reports that Richards regretted having had sex-reassignment surgery and have even seen her quoted as being highly critical of pro-tranny rulings in sports. I'm hoping this new book sets the record straight on all counts. Based on the preface, that appears to be her motivation for writing it.
P.S. Who knew getting Caroline Stoll's autograph would be so much more fun?
Excerpt: 'No Way Renee: The Second Half of My Notorious Life' (NPR)
Check out "No Way Renee: The Second Half of My Notorious Life" on Amazon.