Before Bruce Jenner, There Was Renée Richards

Now 80, the transformative tennis player spoke recently with the Windy City Times.

SpyNightCoverIn advance of Friday’s closely guarded Diane Sawyer 20/20 interview special with Bruce Jenner, journalist Ross Forman shared a captivating recent conversation with a person who blazed the transgender media trail.

Now 80, Renée Richards is wrapping up some final professional activities this year, with plans to then retire in Florida. From the Windy City Times interview:

Richards lives about 80 minutes north of New York City, “in the country, in the woods, on the water,” she said of the English cottage she has called home for about 15 years. She lives with her best friend and former office manager of about 30 years — a straight, widowed woman. Richards stopped operating [as an ophthalmologist] at the end of 2014 and will stop seeing patients later this year. Then the two, and their two dogs, will head south.

Sure, she has a tennis court about 50 feet from her home, but she stopped playing a long time ago. She picked up golf about 20 or 25 years ago, and that’s her sporting pleasure these days — her latest sporting venture.

Richards was, mind you, a New York native who played competitive football team as a teen, participated in swimming meets and was such a talented baseball pitcher that she often attracted the interest of pro scouts.

Begs to wonder, what if… and yes, she too, thinks about what if she opted for a different life path as opposed to tennis. “I had ability in baseball. Who knows what would have happened with my life if I ever [got to] pitch in Yankee Stadium. I don’t know. But I’m not good at woulda, coulda, shoulda. I don’t like that,” she said.

Richards was in the eye of the media storm long before Jenner, who today has indicated that he plans to sue the paparazzi agency that provided the New York Daily News with invasive Malibu photos shot via telephoto lens.

Richards talked with Forman about a number of other topics, including her most recent book Spy Night and Other Memories: A Collection of Stories from Dick and Renée. Earlier this year, Richards wrote a brief op-ed for AlJazeera America about Jenner and denied published reports that she had been acting as his so-called “sex change coach.”
 
[Jacket cover courtesy: Keith Publications LLC]