SECOND SERVE: The Renee Richards Story by Renee with John Adams Richards
Kirkus Star

SECOND SERVE: The Renee Richards Story

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A frank, explicit, gut-wrenching account of Richards' 40-plus years. One of a respected family of physicians, Richard Raskind was well-known in medical circles for ophthalmic surgery, and in amateur tennis circles as a fairly good player. In middle age, after marrying and fathering a son, Raskind underwent a sex-change operation and became Renee Richards. She practiced medicine briefly, then joined the upper ranks of the women's professional tennis tour. Stepping down as a player, she signed on as Martina Navratilova's coach and helped her win Wimbledon. There is much more to say, of course, and Richards says it all, She describes growing up with a physician father who stayed away from home to avoid a brutal, domineering physician-mother; meanwhile an older physician-to-be sister, who the parents wished had been a son, helped Mother dress Richard, who they'd hoped would be a daughter, as a girl--both for fun at home and to send to neighborhood parties, Through medical school and into his early years of practice, Raskind continued to cross-dress and have jumbled sexual- and gender-identification feelings; but he managed to present an almost-normal fasade to the world. (If close friends sometimes had doubts, adoring girlfriends didn't: Richards was heterosexual as a man--and is see as a woman.) The horrendous confusions weren't helped by nine years of analysis. A period on hormone therapy, as a preliminary step to the sex-change procedure, was terminated by big sister's interference. There followed the ill-fated marriage and an abortive trip to the Casablanca clinics. Finally, after a ten-year wait, the sex operation took place (in N.Y.); and a new battle began. Covering the highly publicized post-change years, Richards exposes the idiocy of suggestions that a man might undergo such. a procedure to gain an unfair advantage on the women's tour. It's her chance to scotch all the rumors, and by telling every detail of a life that has clearly been an ordeal optimistically borne, she has done just that. (Fuller and more precise than Jan Merris, this is not for weak stomachs.)

Pub Date: March 25th, 1983
Publisher: Stein & Day