Dave Pickoff/Associated Press
Richard Raskind played in the U.S. National Championships (the pre-Open Era precursor to the U.S. Open) five times between 1953 and 1960, winning first-round matches in 1955 and 1957 and losing to Barry MacKay in four sets in the 1955 second round.
Raskind had a sex-change operation in 1975 and became Renee Richards. When she was accepted into a women's tournament in New Jersey in 1976, 25 women players pulled out of the event in protest, according to a New York Times article.
She was denied entrance into the women's draw of the U.S. Open in 1976 because she refused to take a chromosome test to determine her sex, a 2004 New York Times story reported.
Richards, 43, challenged the U.S. Tennis Association in court, and two weeks before the 1977 U.S. Open, a New York Supreme Court ruled in her favor, forcing the U.S. Open to allow her to participate in the women's draw.
It was a landmark decision for transgender rights, but met with considerable opposition from those saying she would have an unfair physical advantage.
At the 1977 U.S. Open, "Her presence in the draw was unsettling to some players," a New York Times story reported.
The simple fact was that nobody really knew how competitive the 6'1" Richards would be against the top women's players, or whether she might dominate.
Richards received a difficult draw at the 1977 U.S. Open, being paired against No. 3-seeded Virginia Wade in her first-round match. Wade, who had won Wimbledon that year, told reporters prior to the match, according to the New York Times, “I’ve practiced with a lot of 40-year-old men; if Renee beats me, she should be checked out.”
Richards did not beat Wade, losing 6-1, 6-4.
Richards did get to the finals of the women's doubles that year, though. She and partner Betty-Ann Stuart lost to Martina Navratilova and Betty Stove in the title match 6-1, 7-6.
Richards achieved her highest women's ranking in 1979 when she was No. 20. She played women's singles at the U.S. Open five times, getting as far as the third round in 1979 when she beat Mary Carillo and Yvonne Vermaak before losing to Chris Evert.