The ATA's Historic Figures
Alice integral to the Althea Gibson story, she was the first to publicly address the sport's segregation practices and challenge the establishment. She wrote her historic July 1, 1950 editorial in American Tennis Magazine. Marble denounced the all-white U.S. Lawn Tennis Association's policy of excluding African-Americans from competition.
Trailblazing athlete Althea Gibson became the first great African-American player in women’s tennis. Raised primarily in Harlem section of New York City, and became the first black player to win Wimbledon and the French and U.S. Open titles.
Having grown up in the segregated South, Arthur Ashe became the first Black man to win the U.S. Open in 1968. The victory helped him find his voice on a wide array of social-justice issues.
Chanda Rubin's highest WTA ranking was No. 6, which she attained in 1996. Rubin won seven singles titles in her career, and also had plenty of success in doubles. She won the Australian Open alongside Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in 1996, and three years later reached the US Open doubles final.
During his career, Blake amassed 24 singles finals appearances. In 2005, Blake was presented with the Comeback Player of the Year award for his remarkable return to the tour. Later, in 2008, Blake was awarded another honor where he was named the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year. Blake saw Davis Cup action in 2001 and became the third African-American player for the US (after Arthur Ashe and MaliVai Washington).
An accomplished professional player, Katrina Adams competed for 12 years on the WTA Tour, winning 20 career doubles titles and reaching the quarterfinals or better in doubles at all four Grand Slam events. Following her retirement from the professional tour, Adams served an unprecedented two consecutive terms as USTA Chairman and President (2015-2018).
During her playing career, Leslie Allen rose as high as No.17 in the rankings, reached the round of 16 at Roland Garros on three occasions and made the mixed doubles final in Paris in 1983. She is best remembered, though, for her headline-making title run at the Avon Championships of Detroit in February 1981, the unseeded Allen became the first African American woman to win a significant tournament since the legendary Althea Gibson in 1958.
Lori beat Steffi Graf in two first-round tournament matches. In one of those, Steffi was the returning champion, and it was the first time in Grand Slam history that a returning champion had lost in the first round of that tournament.
Lucy Diggs Slowe
Lucy Diggs Slowe was a woman of many "firsts." Slowe was one of the original sixteen founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the first sorority founded by African American women. In 1922, Slowe was appointed the first Dean of Women at Howard University. In addition, she created and led two professional associations to support college administrators. Slowe was also a tennis champion, winning the national title of the American Tennis Association's first tournament in 1917, the first African American woman to win a major sports title.
MaliVai “Mal” Washington
MaliVai Washington began playing tennis at the age of five and won his first title at eight years old. In 1996, he became the first African American man to reach a grand slam singles final since Arthur Ashe when he played in the Wimbledon finals.
Ryland broke through barriers of race and class by becoming the first African American to become a tennis professional. His success in both American Tennis Association (ATA) and integrated amateur tournaments around the country made him one of the best known Black players in the US.
A native of Washington, D.C., Holmes had an amazing career outside of tennis. He served as an interpreter and intelligence officer in World War I. Upon returning to Washington, D.C., he taught German, French, Latin, and mathematics in the District school system. While teaching, he studied law at Howard University and received a degree in 1924. Mr. Holmes also owned Whitelaw Hotel, which was the largest hotel available to African-Americans in Washington at the time. All the while, he was laying the groundwork in the ATA Championships, which would eventually crown both Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson as champions.