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Made in Manchester has made an edition of the long running BBC World Service history strand Sporting Witness about the life and times of transgender tennis star Renee Richards.

Born Richard Raskind in 1934, Renee changed sex in the 1970s only to be told that she wouldn’t be able to compete professionally in the US Open. Renee challenged the US authorities with the support of tennis great Billie Jean King and won a landmark legal case in 1977.

Producer and MIM Creative Director Ashley Byrne says: ‘At the age of 40, she embarked on a career she’d never really planned for. Had no one challenged her right to play at professional level, she’d have happily carried on as an amateur player and focussed on her career as an eye surgeon.

‘As Renee tells us in the programme, she suffered a lot of prejudice including death threats.’

Ashley adds: ‘She went on to compete against some of the greats of women’s tennis and after retiring from the competitive game she coached Martina Navaratilova for several years. It’s a remarkable story and Renee certainly blazed a trail for other transgender people campaigning for their rights.’

Sporting Witness – Renee Richards was researched by Andrew Edwards and Liam Starkey and edited by Iain Mackness. It can be heard on the BBC World Service this Tuesday morning (June 16th 2015( at 9.50 am or via BBC iplayer radio.

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