Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Billie Jean Is King: The Ultimate Athlete Was 32 Years Old and Closeted When Transgender Renee Richards Sued for the Right to Play Pro Tennis against Women. Here, She Looks Back and Contemplates the Future of Gays in Professional Sports

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Billie Jean Is King: The Ultimate Athlete Was 32 Years Old and Closeted When Transgender Renee Richards Sued for the Right to Play Pro Tennis against Women. Here, She Looks Back and Contemplates the Future of Gays in Professional Sports

Article excerpt

It was an interesting time for all of us I can remember trying to calm down all the players. If somebody speaks up--it doesn't have to be me all the time, but any of us--it's just amazing how everybody calms down.

When you personally get to know somebody, that changes everything. I think that's what happened [with Renee]. Some of the guys knew her as Richard. When she started playing, the other women obviously started talking to her and listening to her. All of a sudden, they'd say, "Oh, my God, she's so nice."

I think she should be so proud. Every generation passes the baton to the next. It had to be so horrible for her. [But] you do have to live your truth; that's what Renee did. For her, that meant an extremely difficult situation.

Both Martina and I were still closeted [at the time]. Martina told me, "I knew when I was born that I was gay." I said, "What? You did?" I didn't know at all; I didn't have a clue. Martina and I were both going to be outed. I was outed, but she was going to be, and that's the reason she came forward. She was not going to do it [otherwise], believe me. It was really rough times for us. …

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