Thu, Apr 23, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Transsexual follows the path of Renee Richards


Over three decades after Renee Richards became the first transsexual in professional tennis, a Chilean player is set to follow the same path in Buenos Aires.

“It’s a dream come true for me,” Andrea Paredes told the Argentine daily Clarin.

Paredes, 37, was set to make her debut on Tuesday at a Futures tournament with US$10,000 in prize money, in what she hopes will be the start of her professional career.

Born on July 4, 1971, as Ernesto Paredes, the Chilean is a financial economy analyst and claims she feels more comfortable in Spain than in her own country.

“Here they treated me very well, better than in my country. They treat the issue more normally. I am proud to be the second [transsexual] tennis player after Richards,” she said.

Richards, born as Richard Raskind, reached the No. 22 spot in the ranking in 1977. Her entry into professional tennis was not easy. Following sex-change surgery, the women’s tour refused to have her in 1975.

The New York Supreme Court allowed her to compete in 1977. At 43, Richards returned to the tour with full dedication and even won a tournament. After her retirement, she returned to her previous profession, medicine.

Paredes had tried to play professional tournaments in Chile, but she could not make it.

“At the International Tennis Federation [ITF] they were very open and they authorized me in November, after several tests,” the player said.

Paredes seems ambitious.

“Many say I play like the ‘Chino’ Marcelo Rios because I am left-handed and I hit the ball flat,” Paredes said.

She is not afraid that her age may impose limits on her career.

“I am 37, but biologically it is as if I were 27. I think at this time any ideas about age are obsolete. I take the match calmly, it is the start of my career. I worked hard in silence for two years,” Paredes said.

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