Tennis’ Policy On Transgender Athletes Under Review As Governing Bodies Vow To Work Together - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Latest news

Tennis’ Policy On Transgender Athletes Under Review As Governing Bodies Vow To Work Together

Recently a top Olympic sport became the first first to ban transgender women from competing in women’s events. So what is Tennis’ policy on the matter and could they follow suit? UbiTennis has spoken with both the ITF and WTA about the topic.



Renee Richards was the first openly transgendered woman to play at a Grand Slam event more than 40 years ago (image via

The debate over the inclusion of transgendered athletes in women’s events is a hot topic at present after two governing bodies suspended their participation. 


Less than a week ago the Fédération Internationale de natation (FINA) voted in favour of banning transgender women from elite swimming events if they have experienced any part of male puberty. Their decision is based on the verdict of their ‘scientific panel’ which concludes that trans women retained a significant advantage over cisgender female swimmers even after reducing their testosterone levels through medication. Meanwhile, the International Rugby League (IRL) has also temporarily barred trans women from playing until further research is conducted to shape a clear policy for the organization. 

So what about tennis? The sport was one of the first in the world to feature a male-to-female competitor thanks to trailblazer Renee Richards. Richards, who played professionally as a man before transitioning, was barred from entering qualifying at the 1976 US Open after failing a chromosome test. She then entered into a high-profile legal battle which she won that let her participate in the tournament the following year in a move which made headlines worldwide and divided opinion. Although she was still banned from other top events where their rulebook once stated that only biologically-born females could play women’s events.

Today both the International Tennis Federation and WTA have their own policies dealing with the subject. During an email exchange between the ITF and UbiTennis, they confirmed a review is ongoing following guidelines recently issued by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC framework is a recommendation and has no legal power. It focuses on 10 principles: inclusion, prevention of harm, non-discrimination, fairness, no presumption of advantage, evidence-based approach, primacy of health and bodily autonomy, stakeholder-centered approach, right to privacy and periodic reviews.

“The ITF Sport Science & Medicine Commission (SSMC) began reviewing the current transgender policy following the publication of the IOC transgender framework,” an ITF spokesperson told UbiTennis. 

“The ITF SSMC includes leading international medical and scientific representatives from the world of tennis and will consider inclusion, as well as the other principles set out in the IOC transgender framework as part of its review.”

As the ITF and WTA are separate organizations they can issue their own rules. This is why there is a slight difference in one part of their eligibility criteria regarding trans women players. On the ITF circuit players can participate with a lower testosterone level than on the WTA Tour (5 nmol/L to 10 nmol/L). So it is theoretically possible that some players might be allowed to play ITF events and then be banned from the WTA Tour. 

However, both governing bodies state to UbiTennis that they will be working together on the issue in the future. When questioned about the difference in their policies regarding the level of testosterone, the ITF played down its significance. 

The ITF remains in close communication with WTA regarding our respective transgender policies of which the testosterone threshold is one element,” they said. 

“It is worth noting that the likelihood of a transgender women’s testosterone concentration being between 5 and 10 nmol/L is very low as gender re-affirming hormone therapy typically results in levels of less than 2 nmol/L. We will continue to work closely with the WTA as we continue to review our policy.”

Meanwhile, the WTA told UbiTennis that their approach to the subject of trans competitors is based on fairness for all. 

“WTA’s priority is and continues to be one of fostering an environment that is fair, safe, inclusive and evidence-based,” a spokesperson said.

It is unclear as to if the ITF and WTA will align their rules regarding the required level of testosterone prohibited for trans players but a review is ongoing. Neither governing body mentioned that banning transgendered women from participation was a possibility. 

Latest news

Injury-Hit Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Reaches French Open Quarters



Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova said ‘anything is possible’ after winning her marathon fourth round match against Elise Mertens at the French Open on Sunday. 


Pavlychenkova, who reached the finals of Roland Garros in 2021, bounced back from a set down to beat 28th seed Elise Mertens 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-3, after more than three hours of play. The Russian struggled early on in the match after winning just two out of her first six service games. She found herself down 3-6, 1-3 (0-40), at one stage before producing a triumphant comeback. Overall, she hit 50 winners alongside 48 unforced errors. 

“I’m really proud of myself. It was an incredible match,” Pavlychenova said on the court afterwards. “Losing the first set and in the end, finding the strength to win.’
“I’m glad to be here playing on this court (Phillippe Chartier) again, especially after my injury. I didn’t play for a year so I am very happy to be here.”

The win comes after what has been a turbulent battle for Pavlychenkova over the past year with her fitness. In 2022 she missed eight months of the Tour due to a serious knee injury which prohibited her from walking or even sitting down. Fearing for the future of her career, she underwent successful knee surgery. 

Since beginning her comeback in January, the 31-year-old had only won eight matches in nine tournaments played, which include two at the ITF level, coming into Paris. Despite this, she has regained her form at Roland Garros with Mertens being the third consecutive top 30 player she has beaten after Liudmila Samsonova and Anastasia Potapova. 

“I was sure that I could do that,” she commented on her resurgence. “I’ve enjoyed playing here in Paris ever since I was a junior, especially on this court. I think mentally I am stronger than before. We will see where it goes from here.”

A former world No.11 player, Pavlychenkova’s belief in her game is still as high as ever as she refuses to rule out the possibility that she could stun the tournament by lifting the trophy next Sunday. 

“I think anything is possible, that’s why I’m here and that’s why I came back after my injury,” she stated. 
“Since last year in November, it has been difficult. But I’ve been practising well and I thank my team for getting me in this position.”

Currently ranked 333rd in the world, Pavlychenkova is the lower-ranked player to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam since Kaia Kanepi at the 2017 US Open. She will next play either Karolína Muchová or Elina Avanesyan. 

Continue Reading

Latest news

Doubles Pair Disqualified From French Open Match



A women’s doubles match at the French Open on Sunday ended in tears with one of the pair being disqualified midway through the second set.

Miyu Kato and Aldila Sutjiadi were facing Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzková in the third round. After losing the opening set in a tiebreaker, the pairing worked their way to a 3-1 lead in the second before the match came to a sudden end.

After the end of a game, Kato hit a ball to the other end of the court which accidentally struck a ball girl in the head. The umpire then initially issued a warning to Kato. However, a protest from Tormo and Bouzkova who pointed out that the ball girl was crying resulted in the tournament supervisor being called to the court. Both Tormo and Bouzkova were heard saying that Kato should receive a default.


 After a discussion, it was decided that Kato and Sutjiadi would be defaulted from the match due to a violation of the rules, giving the opponents the win. Naturally upset by the accident, Kato was left in tears when informed about the decision with her partner consoling her.

Kato did speak with the ball girl shortly after the incident to make sure she was fine. This occurred before the supervisor entered the court. 

According to the Grand Slam rulebook, ball abuse is defined as ‘intentionally hitting a ball out of the enclosure of the court, hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences.”

It is not the first time a player has been defaulted from a Grand Slam match after accidentally hitting an official on the court. The most famous incident was when Novak Djokovic was defaulted from his fourth round match against Pablo Carreno Busta at the 2020 US Open after hitting a ball hit a female lines judge in the neck. He was later fined $10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Continue Reading

Latest news

Grand Slam Glory Is The Main Goal For America’s Coco Gauff



Cori Gauff - Australian Open 2023 (Twitter @AustralianOpen)

 Coco Gauff has big aspirations and she isn’t afraid to speak openly about them. 


Following her second round win over Julia Grabher at the French Open on Thursday, the 19-year-old played down the fixation on her current ranking which is No.6 in the world. Gauff admits that her position is something that doesn’t concern her in the sport unless she is sitting at the top of the world rankings. 

“I’m not a ranking person at all. The goal is No.1, and I think that’s when I would care about the ranking,” she stated in her press conference. 
“Anything in between two and 10, I mean, I’m going to be honest, it’s not that important to me.”

Gauff first broke into the world’s top 10 in September 2022 and has remained there ever since. At the time she was the youngest top 10 debutant on the WTA Tour since Nicole Vaidisova in 2006. She has been ranked as high as No.4 in the world.

“When I made the top 10, it was a cool accomplishment, but for me it was never about staying there. I only want to go upwards,” she said. “The biggest goal is to win Grand Slams, and I think the ranking will come with Grand Slams.”

It was 12 months ago at Roland Garros where Gauff achieved her best performance at a major by reaching the final before losing in straight sets to Iga Swiatek. The tournament is her best Grand Slam in terms of match wins (13) and is the only one where she has reached the quarter-finals or better on multiple occasions. Gauff also won the French Open girls’ title back in 2018 at the age of just 14. 

Five years on from the junior triumph, she has become a regular fixture on the Tour. So much so, that there is already another generation of players on the rise. One of those includes Russia’s Mirra Andreeva who says her ultimate goal in tennis is to break Novak Djokovic’s all-time Grand Slam title record which currently stands at 22. Andreeva, who is only the seventh player under the age of 17 to reach the third round of Roland Garros since 1993, will be Gauff’s next opponent. 

“I think she knows the game well, and she’s proved her position to be here and proved in her results in the past, so I don’t think the age thing matters,” Gauff commented on her next opponent. 
“I’ve never thought about my age, to be honest. This will be my third time playing someone younger than me.
“Honestly, the first two times I didn’t even think about it because when you step on the court, you just see your opponent, and you don’t really think about the personal side of things. You just see forehand, backhand, serve, and all the same.”

Gauff will play Andreeva on Saturday. 

Continue Reading