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

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Renee Richards was the first openly transgendered woman to play at a Grand Slam event more than 40 years ago (image via https://twitter.com/tennis)

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. 

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Roberto Bautista Agut beats Felix Auger Aliassime to reach the second round at the Astana Open

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Roberto Bautista Agut upset eight-seed Felix Auger Aliassime 6-4 7-6 (8-6) after 1 hour and 55 minutes to reach the second round at the Astana Open in Nur Sultan. 

 

Bautista Agut earned his first break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and held his next service games to seal the first set 6-4. 

Auger Aliassime went up a break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Bautista Agut pulled one break back in the fifth game and held on his serve to draw lo draw level to 3-3. Bautista Agut went up a mini-break twice in the tie-break, but Auger Aliassime pulled back on serve both times to draw level to 4-4. Bautista Agut sealed the win on his second match point. 

“It is my first time here. I played great in these conditions. I am very happy to win against a top 10 player. It’s not easy to beat Felix, especially on hard courts. That means I had to playa very good match. I was very solid and and very aggressive. I am very happy”, said Bautista Agut. 

Hubert Hurkacz edged past Francisco Cerundolo 6-2 7-6 (7-2) after 82 minutes in the first round of the Astana Open. 

Hurkacz broke twice in the third and seventh games to win the first set 6-2. The Polish player fired 11 aces and saved the one break point he faced in the second set. Both players went on serve en route to the tie-break. Hurkacz earned three mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2. 

The 2021 Miami Open champion set up a second round match against either Alexander Bublik or Tallon Griekspoor.

Hurkacz is currenly ranked ninth in the ATP Race to Turin, just 20 points behind Alexander Zverev, who has been sidelined by an injury. 

Andrey Rublev advanced to the second round with a 6-4 6-3 win over Laslo Djere in 71 minutes. Rublev saved all three break points and broke in the 10th game of the first set and in the 2nd game in the second set. 

Rublev set up a second round match against Chinese qualifier Zhizhen Zhang, who came back from one set down to beat Aslan Karatsev 4-6 6-4 6-1. 

Adrian Mannarino rallied from one set down to beat Stan Wawrinka 1-6 6-2 6-3 to extend his lead to 2-0 in his two head-to-head matches against his Swiss rival. Botic van de Zandschulp eased past Beibit Zhukzhiev 6-1 6-1. 

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Barbora Krejcikova wins her first title of the season in Tallin

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Barbora Krejcikova clinched the fourth title of her career and her first this season with a 6-2 6-3 win over local favourite Anett Kontaveit after 1 hour and 21 minutes in the first edition of the Tallin Open. 

 

Krejcikova won two Grand Slam titles in the doubles and singles at Roland Garros and two more WTA titles in Strasbourg and Prague. The Czech reached just one singles final in 2022 last January, when she lost to Paula Badosa in Sydney. 

Krejcikova collected her sixth career win over a top 10 player. She stopped Kontaveit’s 24-match winning streak on indoor cross court. 

Krejcikova broke serve in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. The multiple Grand Slam doubles champion earned her second break point  with a drop shot winner in the eighth game to close out the first set 6-3. 

Kontaveit earned an early break in the first game of the second set. Krejcikova broke straight back on her third opportunity at deuce in the second game. Krejcikova converted her third break point in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Kontaveit pulled back on serve in the fifth game to draw level to 3-3. Krejcikova hit a forehand winner down the line in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead and sealed the title after a wide forehand from Kontaveit on the first championship point. 

Krejicikova and her compatriot Katerina Siniakova won three doubles women’s titles at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. Last year they won Madrid, Roland Garros, the Olympic Games and the WTA Finals. 

“Every trophy is special, especially in singles right now, where this year was really tough, so it means a lot. It was a really amazing week, a special week”, said Krejicikova. 

“I am really proud how I was able to bring my best performance for the final. I was expecting that Anett is going to play fast and she would try to put me under pressure from the first point. I was ju trying to play my game, and just trying to eliminate that. I just really wanted to go out there and play my best tennis and try to enjoy the final, because it took me a lot of fight and energy to get there”, said Krejcikova. 

Kontaveit was aiming to win her second title this season following her triumph in St. Petersburg over Maria Sakkari last February. The Estonian player reached two more finals in 2022 at the WTA 1000 in Doha and in Hamburg, but she finished runner-up in both tournaments. 

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Marc Andrea Huesler earns the first title of his career in Sofia

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Marc Andrea Huesler edged past Holger Rune 6-4 7-6 (10-8) after 1 hour and 42 minutes to earn the maiden title of his career at the Sofia Open in his first career final on the ATP tour.

 

Huesler broke Rune in the first game before holding in all five of his service games. Both players continued to dominate on their serve in the second set. He wasted two set points, when he was leading 6-5. Huesler held serve to take the second set to a tie-break. Rune failed to convert two more set points in the tie-break. Huesler earned two mini-breaks to seal the tie-break 10-8. 

Earlier this week Huesler beat Geoffrey Blancaneaux, Kamil Majchrzak and Lorenzo Musetti. He saved two match points against Majchrzak in the quarter finals. 

Huesler has become the first Swiss player to win an ATP Tour  since Roger Federer in Basel in 2019. 

“I played a great match for sure. I am completely taken aback. I am lost for words. It was a great match. I just tried to stay focused, stayed calm and I am just really happy I was able to make it. I would definitely say the conditions here suit me. I already felt that two years ago here suit me. I already felt that two years ago, when I played a good level of tennis,, beating Nikoloz Basilashvili before losing to Jannik Sinner. I am feeling good here .My game is based on my serve a lot and I think that indoor here, I am really happy to put a lot of pressure on the opponent that way, and the way I was volleying this week, I surprised myself as well”, said Huesler. 

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