STORIES

Our goal is to collect and preserve Black tennis history.
If you are able to help in this pursuit, connect with us to share your story.
  • MALAVAI WASHINGTON


    In 1989 at the age of 20, MaliVai decided to forego his final two years at Michigan to become a professional. He was named the ATP rookie of the year in 1990. Over a career that spanned 10 years, he won 4 career titles while reaching a total of 13 finals.
  • LORI MCNEIL

    An All-American at Oklahoma State University, McNeil went pro in 1984. Two years later she reached the USTA Top 10 in singles, and climbed as high as No. 9 in the world rankings. She also represented her country on the U.S. Fed Cup and Wightman Cup teams.

  • ZINA GARRISON


    Zina Garrison was the #1 junior player in the world. She turned professional in 1982 where she reached a career high of Number 4 and became the first African-American woman since Althea Gibson to reach a Grand Slam final in 1990
  • JOHN WILKERSON

    Coached both ZIna Garrison and Lori McNeil from childhood through their professional careers.
  • MARTIN BLACKMAN

    Martin Blackman took over as General Manager, USTA Player Development, on June 1, 2015. In this role, Blackman is responsible for partnering with the U.S. tennis community to identify and develop the next generation of world-class American tennis players.  He oversees both the USTA’s Player Development staff and Training Centers. 
  • LESLIE ALLEN

    Allen is an honors graduate of the University of Southern California, with a degree in speech communications She is an ATA, NCAA, and WTA champion who maintained a top twenty world ranking in singles. When Allen won the singles title at the Avon Championships of Detroit in 1981, she made history as the first African American woman to win a major pro tournament since Althea Gibson’s 1957 US Open victory.

  • EVONNE GOOLAGONG

    Goolagong grew up in the wheat town of Barrellan in New South Wales, one of eight children. Her mother Melinda was a homemaker and father Kenny a sheepshearer. Their simple one-story home was a tin shack with dirt floors and no electricity. But moreover, Goolagong was born into Aborigine heritage, the only family of its kind in town, and as light-skinned members of the Wiradjuri tribe, the Goolagong kids faced prejudice, and faced a cloudy and uncertain future.

  • DR. ROBERT JOHNSON

    For more than two decades, Dr. Johnson trained, coached, and mentored African Americans from his personal courts in Lynchburg, Virginia. He established a Junior Development program for the American Tennis Association (ATA), worked tirelessly behind the scenes to provide opportunities for all competitors, and emerged as a towering figure in the game’s evolution.
  • MUST SEE - ALTHEA

    Althea Gibson’s life and achievements transcend sports. A truant from the rough streets of Harlem, Althea emerged as a most unlikely queen of the highly segregated tennis world in the 1950s. Her roots as a sharecropper’s daughter, her family’s migration north to Harlem in the 1930s, mentoring from Sugar Ray Robinson, David Dinkins and others, and fame that thrust her unwillingly into the glare of the early Civil Rights movement, all bring her story into a much broader realm of the American story.
  • BOB RYLAND - June 16, 1920 – August 2, 2020

    Even at 100 years old, Robert “Bob” Ryland, the first Black man to crack the racial barrier on the mainstream professional tennis tour, maintained a thirst for the game. Quenching that thirst in recent weeks often saw Ryland at home with his hearing aid, intently listening to programming on the Tennis Channel. (From The Undefeated).
  • YANNICK NOAH

    In 1983 Yannick Noah erased nearly four decades of futility on the red clay at Roland Garros by defeating defending champion Mats Wilander to become the first Frenchman to win the French Open in 37 years. 

  • ARTHUR ROBERT ASHE JR.

    Ashe was much more than a storied tennis player; he was an activist, author, educator, and a tireless campaigner for civil rights and racial equality, not only in the United States but worldwide, particularly against the apartheid systems of South Africa. “Arthur was a voice for all the minorities, and that goes for women, too,” Pam Shriver told the New York Times in Ashe’s obituary.