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Second Serve (1986)

Fact-based story about tennis pro Renee Richards, whose player status was challenged in 1976 when it was revealed that she was a transsexual. Flashback to 1964 and meet Richard Radley, a ... See full summary »


Anthony Page


John Ames (book), Gavin Lambert | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Vanessa Redgrave ... Richard Radley / Renee Richards
Martin Balsam ... Dr. Beck
William Russ ... Josh
Alice Krige ... Gwen
Kerrie Keane ... Meriam
Richard Venture Richard Venture ... Dr. David Radley
Reni Santoni ... Dr. Roberto Granato
Louise Fletcher ... Dr. Sadie M. Bishop
Jeff Corey ... Dr. Harry Benjamin
Alan Feinstein ... Bill
Nina van Pallandt ... Danielle (as Nina Van Pallandt)
Michael Cavanaugh ... Gene Scott
Kenneth Tigar ... Ross
Alison La Placa ... Nightclub Singer
Ray Girardin Ray Girardin ... Grigsby


Fact-based story about tennis pro Renee Richards, whose player status was challenged in 1976 when it was revealed that she was a transsexual. Flashback to 1964 and meet Richard Radley, a successful New York doctor with a great lifestyle, a flashy girl friend, and a secret life. Seems like the good doctor likes to dress up in women's clothes and visit Manhattan. His psychiatrist mother refuses to deal with him and sends him to a colleague who diagnoses with a psychotic gender confusion, which he says can be unlearned. After a failed marriage and fatherhood, he gives in to the transsexual operation and becomes Renee for good with a new life in California. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He made the most drastic change a man can make. He became a woman. This is his story and hers. See more »


Biography | Drama | Sport







Release Date:

13 May 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

I Change My Life See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lorimar Telepictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Vanessa Redgrave, Martin Balsam and Louise Fletcher. See more »


Referenced in Ugly Betty: Brothers (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

Vanessa Serves Up A Good One
27 July 2011 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Much after the book which inspired Second Serve came out and the film was broadcast on television, Renee Richards wrote a second autobiography in which she says that while she does not regret the transition surgery from man to woman, she does regret the notoriety that came with it. Who can say what she feels now because there certainly is a fine line between fame and notoriety.

As the film shows if it were not for a curious investigative reporter Renee would have had a modest career in amateur tennis while pursuing her real career as opthamologist.

I've met and talked with enough transgender individuals to know that what Renee formerly Robert felt was portrayed accurately enough, this is a private thing and most would like to do it privately. No one in the transgender world is groomed to be a Jackie Robinson, as Jackie Robinson himself was. It just happens. It happened in my area a few years earlier when a man who was teaching at a high school in Batavia over the summer transitioned. All kinds of noise was made about it and certainly the teacher didn't bargain for it. Curiously enough not any of her students had any problem and the hoopla has died down now.

Vanessa Redgrave did a superb job playing both the male and female versions of the character. As for Renee herself, she's probably got the quieter and gentler life now.

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