Our heart goes out to 22-year-old German Sarah Gronert. A tennis player all her life, Gronert nearly quit the sport at age 19 because critics ridiculed her for the way she looked. That had something to do with Gronert being born with both male and female genitalia, which she had all her life until recently, when she underwent surgery to have her male anatomy removed, and then had to petition the World Tennis Association to be allowed to play in the women’s league (they agreed). As far as the law is concerned, Gronert is a woman. Her critics don’t see it that way. Her tennis serve, they say, is stronger than even Venus Williams’ and simply too powerful to belong to a woman. Which means Gronert, already dealing with intense scrutiny for publicly being branded a hermaphrodite (or “intersexual”), now faces open speculation about whether she should be allowed to continue playing professionally as a woman.
Or maybe it’s just sour grapes. “This is not a woman, it’s a man. She does not have the power of a woman and no woman has such a technique,” says Schlomo Tzoref, the coach of Julia Glushko, who Gronert beat in an Israeli tournament. “When I heard her story, I was in shock. I don’t know if it’s fair that she can compete or not. She does have an advantage, but if this is what the WTA have decided, they probably know best. If she begins to play continuously, within six months she will be within the top 50.”
As it stands, Gronert is ranked No. 619 in the world having played nine tournaments in the last three years and won two, reports the Daily News. But aside from the vocal Tzoref, it’s unclear whether other pros or their handlers have a problem with Gronert’s situation, though it appears the more famous she gets, the more criticism she attracts; her Wikipedia page was pulled after constant abuse, reports Fanhouse — but then you know all about asshole Internet trolls.