BATTLE OF THE SEXES
When Renee Richards, the transsexual tennis player who has been fighting for acceptance in competitive women's tennis since she "came out" last August, took and apparently passed the standard Barr Body chromosome test (the one used in the Olympics) in Little Rock, Ark. last week, several intriguing questions arose. Why did Richards suddenly take the test after having refused to do so for seven months? More important, will the ruling bodies of tennis accept the results, or will they find another way to keep the 42-year-old Richards out of events like Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the French and Italian championships?
Richards, an M.D. who is, naturally, well-versed in genetics, has said all along that the chromosome test alone was not the way to determine a person's sex. "It was invoked specifically because of me," she says, "and that is discriminatory. By refusing to take the test I think I educated a lot of people about transsexuals, but, unfortunately, that didn't get me any further into competition. So I took the test. Now my crusading is over. It is time to start thinking about Renee Richards, tennis player."
Maybe that's so. Tennis officials indicate that if she is indeed a female, she will be allowed to play. But there are likely to be more hassles. One problem is that as a man, Richard Raskind, she fathered a son. According to a spokesman for the Institute for Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital, that means it would be impossible now for her to have female chromosomes, because no one in medical history has been known to have had a change in structure of the chromosomes he or she was born with. Richards, citing something called the Klinefelter Syndrome, disagrees with the implications of this argument, but says that her family life "is nobody's damn business."
Tennis may ask her to take the Barr Body test again, or a more complicated and even more accurate test called a karyotype. Richards, who threatened earlier to sue, says, "I took the test under stringent conditions. I had three witnesses, as well as doctors and a pathology lab of impeccable repute. They'd better not ask me to take it again, or they'll really be asking for it."
Some people feel that with his name. Gene Tenace took up the wrong game. The same can be said for the Ottawa Athletic Club's Australian tennis pro. His name is Gary Hockey.
Irving Wallace and his son David discovered sport, among other things, when they published their non-book, The People's Almanac, a couple of years ago. Now they are back, along with Irving's daughter Amy, with another paste-together production called The Book of Lists, which William Morrow & Co. will publish in May.
The Book of Lists is worse than potato chips: you know you don't want any more, but you can't stop. You keep arguing with it. The chapter on sports, for example, is filled with infuriating tables of bests, worsts, greatests, most dramatic moments, etc. Herbert Warren Wind, who not only writes about golf but may have invented it, gives his list of the 12 greatest golfers of all time. You know where he puts Jack Nicklaus? Eleventh. And then Amy Alcott—why Amy Alcott?—picks the 11 greatest women golfers of all time and puts Babe Zaharias 11th. Jack, meet Babe.
Sam Snead offers his list of the nine greatest golfers, which is actually a list of 10 except that Sam, who modestly leaves his name out of it, also modestly leaves the first spot blank. After that he has Nicklaus second. Jack and Babe, meet Sam.