The Effort to Sideline Rising Tennis Star Sarah Gronert (Because She Was Born With Both Boy and Girl Parts)


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.

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  • Hint

    Poor girl. Hope she keeps at it and keeps winning.

  • Mark M

    It is not right that her private medical issues should be scrutinized by the public, especially when people are so back-ass about this. Intersex is a birth defect. Nothing more, nothing less. She got a cosmetic fix, and I wish her well. Judging by her appearance, her family and MDs were very with-it, and kept her from developing secondary sexual traits until now, too. So her serve is her serve.. from good work, and good luck. She probably has kept her androgen levels very low. The comparison to Venus is just ugly too: Venus has ‘manly arms’, but not the fastest serve in Tennis right now.

  • Jose

    It’s the Women’s Tennis Association, not World Tennis Association. The main governing body of the sport is the International Tennis Federation.

  • SouLKid

    @ MARK M
    Venus do hold the record for the fastest serve which she hit at the 2007 French Open(129mph).She served the fastest ever recorded at wimbledon(127mph).Even on average she hits the fastest serves.
    And clearly u confuse Venus with Serena since Serena is the one with ‘manly arms’ while Venus is just tall and lean.

  • Michael

    When I was a kid, trangendered Renee Richards often asked me (and the other young guys in the area)to workout against her on the court. This started before she was famously outted after a win in La Jolla. She was a formidable looking woman, tall and broad shouldered. However, her transition resulted in a rather large loss of muscle. Eventually, the WTA permitted her to play on the tour. Tennis is a game of both mind and body, and Renee lacked that champion mentality–the same that Evert had that allowed her to go toe to toe against the more atheletic Navratilova. The same could be said of Henin, who battled both William sisters successfully, despite being just about half their size. Having permitted Richards to play on the women’s tour, I can’t imagine them denying access by Sarah Gronert, no matter her physical gifts.

  • Mark M

    @SouLKid: “Venus do hold the record” She DO? WOW. No.. I wasn’t confusing them. I can tell the difference.

  • Ryan

    She has an advantage? I wish people could think outside of the box – at just how much she must have gone through to get to the point that she’s at. If it was such a huge advantage, there would be many more like her and she wouldn’t be rare in the sport.

    Even casting aside all the stuff she’s had to overcome, her ‘advantage’ is no more than my brother’s advantage over me on the basketball court. He was born to be 6’6.” I never grew past 6′. I guess we should just ban him from the game, then, because that’s like, totally not fair… /snark off. No one should be banned from anything because of how they were born. We each must learn to use our own assets.

  • rogue dandelion

    This article, while looking at trans bias, is also bringing to light the tremendous sexism withing modern tennis. as if any man could simply break into the top 50 of the women’s game, how preposterous. My heart goes out to this woman.

  • Pete

    Poor kid. What courage she has to continue playing though. Props to her.

  • RG

    I have nothing but support for her! Imagine having had to have the whole world know all this? In her career thus far the embarrassment must mean we haven’t seen her play whole-heartedly. I hope she becomes a confident player now. And will be made up for her if she plays all her opposition off the court 6-0,6-0,60 !

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