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.
Unranked in junior tennis, Leslie Allen was an ATA, NCAA, and WTA Champion. Allen was a member of the University of Southern California (USC) 1976 NCAA Championship team, and in 1977, graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in speech communications. By the end of 1980, Leslie Allen was ranked 54th in the world. In February 1981, Leslie Allen won the Avon Championships in Detroit, Michigan, becoming the first Black woman to win a tour-level singles tournament since Athleta Gibson in 1958. In 1983 Allen reached a career high ranking of No. 21.
Other highlights of Allen’s excellent career included a round-of-16 effort at the 1982 Australian Open, three straight rounds of 16 runs at Roland Garros from 1979- 1981, as well as a runner-up effort in the 1983 Roland Garros mixed doubles event. Allen was one of many who helped commemorate Althea Gibson in 2019 with a statue at the US Open.