Chris Evert believes “science and medicine” should consider whether transgender athletes are allowed to compete in women’s sports.
Evert appeared on an ESPN conference call to promote the network’s exclusive coverage of Wimbledon, where the 18-time main winner is a color commentator.
The Post asked Evert about a recent tweet she sent about competing against Renee Richards, a transgender player, and her general beliefs about transgender athletes in women’s sports.
“I competed against Renee Richards when I was 43 years old and out of shape, as she admitted, and [struggled to beat her] – and I was ranked No. 1 in the world,” Evert said on the call.
The two competitors met six times between 1978 and 1980, with Evert winning each match.
“The size. The size of the heart. The size of the lungs. Speed. Fast twitch muscles. Testosterone. Everything points to the fact that men are faster, stronger, etc. than women, especially after puberty,” Evert said.
“For Renee Richards, who I really admire, to come out and say, ‘Now, I think it would be wrong for me to compete’… she said, ‘Because if I was 25 years old, I would knock everybody off the court.’ Those are quotes that she said. It’s not me who says them.”
In 2019, Richards told Sports Illustrated that she would have won Wimbledon had she competed at age 20.
“It’s just about the physicalities of the body. It has nothing to do with anything other than the physicalities of the body. I am very supportive of transgender people,” Evert said. “But at some point, you have to look at science and medicine, and look at that statistic, instead of ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to include transgender people in women’s sports?'”
Trans athletes in women’s sports have been a hot topic for years, but especially since last November when Lia Thomas, who competed as a men’s swimmer at Penn before moving up to women’s and setting NCAA records.
Last week, FINA, the governing body for international swimming, banned transgender swimmers from competing against women unless they transitioned before the age of 12 and puberty began.
Responding to this news earlier this week, US women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe called it “cruel” and “disgusting” to ban trans women from playing women’s sports.
“Show me the evidence that trans women are taking everyone’s scholarships, they’re dominating every sport, they’re winning every title,” Rapinoe said in an interview with TIME. “Sorry, it just isn’t happening. So we have to start from inclusion, period. And as things come up, I’m confident we can work it out. But we cannot start otherwise. That’s cruel. And frankly, it’s disgusting.
“So we really need to step back and get a handle on what we’re really talking about here because people’s lives are at risk. Children’s lives are at risk with suicide rates, depression rates, and negative mental health and drug abuse. We’re putting everything through ‘God forbid a trans person can be successful in sports.’ Control reality and take a step back.”
Martina Navratilova, an 18-time Grand Slam singles champion, took the opposite stance.
“I totally disagree with Megan on this,” Navratilova tweeted. “Equity should come before inclusion, especially after puberty, around 10 or 11 years old…before that let kids be kids and just have fun in a sling as it is safe. After puberty, biology must come first.”