Friday, May 04, 2018


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For a long time, tennis has inspired crowds and helped untold human beings the world over. It is a sport that can be played among 2 people, 4 people, or more. It is a sport that focuses on accuracy, strength, grace, speed, and determination. Legendary athletes who participated in tennis are household names. We know them as Pete Sampras, Andy Roddick, Steffi Graf, Venus Williams, and of course the majestic Serena Williams (who is the greatest woman tennis player of all time. I will document tons of evidence proving this later in this information). It or tennis can be played indoors or outdoors. Excitement, changing scores, and upsets encompass the atmosphere of tennis regularly. It has been part of the Olympics, worldwide championships, and other capacities locally as well. The Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open make up the four Grand Slam tournaments. Since the 19th century, modern tennis has evolved greatly. Computerized technology can easily check if a person scored a point or not. That is why we have the electronic review technology with a point challenge system. This allows any player to contest the line call of a point. This system is called Hawk Eye. The origins of tennis go back centuries before the 19th century too.

Culturally, tennis has expanded and has been embraced by people of every color, creed, nationality, and background. For long decades, there have always been black men and black women who have excelled in the sport of tennis in unparalleled ways. We honor their contributions completely. The Sister Althea Gibson won many awards and expressed great resiliency. Brother Arthur Ashe wrote about the historical experience of black athletes and won tournaments too. Sisters Venus and Serena Williams have inspired tons of black people and young people in general to pursue tennis. Therefore, tennis is a universal game whose impact and strength is unyielding. We are inspired humbly by tennis players and we still believe in the Dream. The Dream relates to the goal of making justice succinctly a reality for the human race and making sure that human beings have the opportunity to reach their highest potential possible. The Dream is about seeing the impossible being made possible for us and our posterity. In that sense, we fulfill the essence of the Golden Rule and the glorious, awe-inspiring proclamations of heroes before us.

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Tennis has much accessible equipment. The 2 main types of equipment in tennis are rackets and tennis balls. A tennis racket has a handle and a grip connected to a neck. All of these things are held up with a matrix of tightly pulled strings. Modern rackets have existed for over 100 years. Some are made up of wood. Laminated wood construction has given more strength to rackets. Other rackets are made up of metal and carbon graphite, ceramics, other light metals like titanium. These materials give rackets more power. The frame of them can be about 29 inches. Rackets are constructed by companies like Wilson, Head, and Babolat. Tennis balls are made up of originally of cloth strips stitched together with thread and stuffed with feathers. Some were white. Today, most are yellow by the latter part of the 20th century to the present. It was used for increased visibility. The International Tennis Federation or the ITF do make tennis balls to confirm to specific criteria for size, weight, deformation and bounce. The ITF defines the official diameter of tennis balls in the following terms: the official diameter as 65.41–68.58 mm (2.575–2.700 inches). Balls must weigh between 56.0 and 59.4 g (1.98 and 2.10 oz.). Tennis balls are traditionally manufactured in America and Europe. More manufacturing takes place in Asia. There are materials in the region that people desire to make tennis balls. Advanced players use other accouterments to improve their performance. One is about vibration dampeners may be interlaced in the proximal part of the string array for improved feel. Racket handles may be customized with absorbent or rubber-like materials to improve the players' grip. Players often use sweat bands on their wrists to keep their hands dry and head bands or bandannas to keep the sweat out of their eyes as well. Finally, although the game can be played in a variety of shoes, specialized tennis shoes have wide, flat soles for stability and a built-up front structure to avoid excess wear.

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Players and Officials (including Rules and Points)

Tennis is played on a rectangular court by either 2 players or four players (called doubles). Players stand on the opposite sides of a net and use a stringed racket to hit a ball back and forth to each other. Each player has a maximum of one bounce after it has been hit by their opponent to return the ball over the net and within the boundaries of the court. Once a player fails to do any of these actions, his or her opponent wins a point. The aim in any tennis game is to win enough points to win a game and enough games to win a set and enough sets to win a match. The first person to win six games wins a set. Matches are usually the best of three or the best of five sets. Sometimes, a coin toss determines which player serves first. If the ball hits the net and falls within the service court, this is called a “net serve”, the server will be entitled to re-serve the ball into the service court. For example, if a “net serve” is made on the server’s first serve, the server will be entitled to re-serve his first serve. There are no limits to the number of “net serves” a player can commit. In dealing with points, no points are scored is called Love. 1 point scored is 15 points. 2 points scored is 30 points, 3 points scored is 40 points, and 4 points earned is set point (or set over). A tennis player must win at least a two point lead to win a game. If the score is tied at 40 to 40 (what is called as a “Deuce”), a player must earn two consecutive points (an “Advantage” point and “Point”) to win the game. If the player who has an “Advantage” point loses the next point, the score will be “Deuce” once again. Tennis is played on a rectangular, flat surface. The court is 78 feet (23.77 m) long, and 27 feet (8.2 m) wide for singles matches and 36 ft. (11 m) wide for doubles matches. One set is a sequence of games played with service alternating between games. A break point occurs if the receiver, not the server, has a chance to win the game with the next point.

The History of Tennis

The history of tennis has a long story. Tennis evolved from real tennis or royal tennis. Royal tennis continues to be played today in a completely different style of rules as compared to modern day tennis. The Middle Ages mentioned tennis. There is the Second Shepherds’ Play from ca. 1500. It is literature about shepherds giving three gifts, including a tennis ball, to the newborn Christ. From the literature of “The Turke and Gowin” from ca. 1500, it shows a story of Sir Gawain, or the knight of King Arthur’s round table, playing tennis against a group of 17 giants. Real tennis came about during the Middle Ages. It evolved from an earlier ball game played around the 12th century in France. Back in France, that game involved hitting a ball with a bare hand and later with a globe. During the 16th century, the glove had become a racquet. The game moved into an enclosed playing area. Rules became stabilized. Royalty played real tennis throughout Europe. It reached its peak in the 16th century. King James I Scotland was killed involving a unique situation. In 1437 at the Blackfriars, Perth, something happened. The drain outlet was blocked to prevent the loss of tennis balls. King James I wanted to escape assassins. James was later trapped and killed. Real tennis has been played by and was supported by Francis I of France (1515-1547). He built courts and promoted play among courtiers and commoners. Henry II was his successor. Henry II was another great player and continued the royal French tradition. An Italian priest wrote a 1555 book about tennis called, Trattao del Giuocco della Palla. His name was Antonio Sciano da Salothe. Two French kings died from tennis related situations. Their names are Louis X of a severe chill after playing and Charles VIII after hitting his head during a game. King Charles IX granted a constitution to the Corporation of Tennis Professionals by 1571. It formed a first pro tennis tour. There were 3 professional levels called apprentice, associate, and master. Forbet was a professional who wrote and published the first codification of the rules in 1599.

Royal tennis has been written about by William Shakespeare too. He wrote about “tennis balles" in his work called Henry V from 1599. There were other authors who wrote about tennis too. Royal tennis thrived among 17th century nobility in France, Spain, Italy, and in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Yet, English Purtianism rejected it. Back then, Puritans were very strict religiously. By the Age of Napoleon, the royal families of Europe were besieged with war and conflict. So, real tennis was totally abandoned for the most part. Real tennis had a minor role in the history of the French Revolution via the Tennis Court Oath. This pledge was signed by French deputies on a real tennis court. This was influential in starting the French Revolution. In England, by the 18th and early 19th centuries, real tennis declined. Three other racquet sports were developed like racquets, squash racquets, and lawn tennis (which evolved into the modern game of tennis). Modern tennis was tied to 2 separate inventions. From 1859 and 1865, Major Harry Gem (from Birmingham, England), who was a solicitor and friend of Augurio Perera (a Spanish merchant) did something. Gem merged the elements of the game of rackets and the Spanish ball game pelota and played it on a croquet lawn in Edgbaston. By 1872, both men moved into Leamington Sap and in 1874, with 2 doctors from Warneford Hospital, founded the world’s first tennis club. It was called the Leamington Tennis Club. The game of Spharistike was created by Major Wingerfield in the UK. On December 1873, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield created and patented an hourglass-shaped tennis court in order to obtain a patent on his court. The court was a rectangular court, already in use in other versions of outdoor tennis. Also, lawn tennis was unpatentable by him. A temporary patent on his hourglass-shaped court was granted to him in February of 1874, which he never renewed when it expired in 1877. It is commonly believed, mistakenly, that Wingfield obtained a patent on the game he devised to be played on that type of court, but in fact Wingfield never applied for nor received a patent on his game, although he did obtain a copyright — but not a patent — on his rules for playing it. There was a running series of articles and letters in the British sporting magazine called The Field. A meeting at London’s Marylebone Cricket Club existed. Afterwards, the official rules of lawn tennis were created by the Club in 1875. The rules were different than what Wingfield dreamed of.

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This picture shows the 1877 Wimbledon Championship. 

The rules from the Marylebone Cricket Club added deuce, Advantage, and two chances per serve. Wingfield claimed that he had invented his version of the game for the amusement of his guests at a weekend garden party on his estate of Nantclwyd, in Llanelidan, Wales in 1874, but research has demonstrated that even his game was not likely played during that country weekend in Wales. He had likely based his game on both the evolving sport of outdoor tennis and on real tennis. Much of modern tennis terminology also derives from this period, as Wingfield and others borrowed both the name and much of the French vocabulary of real tennis and applied them to their variations of real tennis. Wingfield patented his hourglass court.  In his version, the game was played on an hourglass shaped court and the net was higher (4 feet 8 inches) than it is in the official lawn tennis. The service had to be made from a diamond-shaped box in the middle of one side of the court only, and the service had to bounce beyond the service line instead of in front of it. He adopted the rackets-based system of scoring where games consisted of 15 points (called 'aces'). None of these quirks survived the Marylebone Cricket Club's 1875 Rules of Lawn Tennis that have been official, with periodic slight modifications, ever since then.

Those rules were adopted by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for the first Lawn Tennis Championship, at Wimbledon in 1877 (the men who devised those rules were members of both clubs). Wingfield does deserve great credit for popularizing the game of lawn tennis, as he marketed, in one boxed set, all the equipment needed to play his or other versions of it. That equipment had been available previously only at several different outlets. This caused convenience. Versions of the game spread in Britain. By 1875, lawn tennis supplanted croquet and badminton as the most popular outdoor games for both men and women. Mary Ewing Outerbridge played lawn tennis in Bermuda at Clermont. It was a house with a large lawn in Paget parish. Many histories claim that Mary introduced tennis to the United States in 1874. Many said that she set the first tennis court in America on the grounds of the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club. This is near where the Staten Island Ferry Terminal is today. The club was founded on or about March 22, 1872. She is also mistakenly said to have played the first tennis game in the US against her sister Laura in Staten Island, New York, on an hourglass-shaped court. However, all this would have been impossible, as the tennis equipment she is said to have brought back from Bermuda was not available in Bermuda until 1875. Also, her next trip to Bermuda, when it was available there, was in 1877.  In fact, lawn tennis was first introduced in the United States on a grass court on Col. William Appleton's Estate in Nahant, Massachusetts by Dr. James Dwight ("the Father of American Lawn Tennis"), Henry Slocum, Richard Dudley Sears and Sears' half-brother Fred Sears in 1874. In 1881, the United States National Lawn Tennis Association (USNLTA) was founded and the first U.S. Championships were played (though only for American citizens until 1885).

By the late 19th century and early 20th century, we saw the pre-open era of tennis. The four majors or the Grand Slam tournaments existed. They are the four biggest competitions in the tennis world today. They are Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the French Open, and the Australian Open. They have been heavily popular since the mid 1920’s. A Grand slam win refers to a tennis player winning all four of these tournaments in the same year. Wimbledon was created in 1877 by the All England Club. It raised money. The first Championships were done by 22 men. The winner received the Silver Gilt Cup. Women had their own championship called the Ladies Singles and then the Gentlemen’s Doubles Championships were formed in 1884. Wimbledon championships are open to women for the first time by 1884. The Ladies and Mixed Doubles came about in 1913. Tennis was played in America by 1874. It spread into New York and Boston. The U.S. Open was first held in Newport, Rhode Island on 1881. The U.S. National Women’s Singles Championships were held in 1887 in Philadelphia. It became part of the major Tennis tournaments by 1924 by the ILTF during 1924. Wimbledon was televised by 1937 which was the first tennis tournament to have done so. The French Open existed by 1891 as the Championat de France International de Tennis. This tournament was not recognized as a Major or Grand Slam tournament until it was opened to all nationalities in 1925. Tennis was always popular in France.  The modern Olympics included tennis for the first time in 1896. The Australian Open was first played in 1905. It gained more popularity by the 1980’s. Its tournament has been held in Melbourne Park since 1988. There is the Davis Cup too. The International Lawn Tennis Federation was created in 1913 at a Paris conference.

It is now the International Tennis Federation since 1977. Professional tours existed by the early 20th century. There was the Wembley Championship held in Wembley Arena in England. It was played from 1934 to 1990. During the 1920’s, Suzanne Lenglen was one of the greatest tennis players of her generation. She was from France. On 1933, Bunny Austin wore modern day tennis fashion. On January 1, 1950, Jack Cramer created by the modern Pro Tour. It was popular to the public and amateur players. Maureen Connolly was the first woman to win all 4 Grand Slam tournaments in a single year by January 1, 1953. During the 1950’s, more African Americans like Althea Gibson was involved in breaking down the color barrier in tennis. She was the first black women to win Wimbledon.  In 1956, she became the first black human being to win a Grand Slam title (the French Open). The following year she won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals (precursor of the U.S. Open), then won both again in 1958, and was voted Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in both years. In all, she won 11 Grand Slam tournaments, including six doubles titles, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame. "She is one of the greatest players who ever lived," said Robert Ryland, a tennis contemporary and former coach of Venus and Serena Williams. The Open era started from 1968 to the present. This was when the Grand Slam tournaments agreed to allow professional players to compete with amateurs. Before 1968, only amateurs were allowed to compete in Grand Slam tournaments and other events organized or sanctioned by the ILTF, including Davis Cup.

The Open Era lasted from 1968 to the present. This was when Grand Slam tournaments allowed professional players to compete with amateurs. Before 1968, only amateurs were allowed to compete in Grand Slam tournaments and other events organized by the ILTF (including the Davis Cup). There were power struggles between the ILTF plus the commercial promoters. This led to the boycotts of Grand Slam events. The first open era event was the 1968 British Hard Court Championships. It was held in April at The West Hants Club in Bournemouth, England. The first open Grand Slam tournament was the 1968 French Open in May. Both tournaments were won by Ken Rosewall. The open era allowed all tennis players to have the opportunity to make a living by playing tennis.  By 1968, many professionals became independent. They include Lew Hoad, Mal Anderson, Luis Ayala, and Owen Davidson. Most of the best players were under contract. George McCall operated the National Tennis League or the NTL. He managed Rod Laver, Ken Emerson, Andres Gimeno, Pancho Gonzales, Fred Stolle, and Roy Emerson. Dave Dixon (later succeeded by Lamar Hunt) ran the World Championship Tennis (WCT) and managed eight people. Their names are John Newcombe, Tony Roche, Nikola Pilić, Roger Taylor, Pierre Barthès, Earl "Butch" Buchholz, Cliff Drysdale and Dennis Ralston.

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In 1968, the original eight WCT players were not allowed to participate in the French Open. In 1970, NTL players did not play the Australian Open because their organization did not receive a guarantee. In 1970, neither WCT nor NTL players played in the French Open. The game was heavily influenced by the NTL and the WCT. Jack Kramer wanted to outmaneuver them. He made the Grand Prix tennis circuit in late 1969. He was the best male tennis player of the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. He defined his system as the following: “…a series of tournaments with a money bonus pool that would be split up on the basis of a cumulative point system. This would encourage the best players to compete regularly in the series, so that they could share in the bonus at the end and qualify for a special championship tournament that would climax the year…” In 1970, none of the contract players participated in the French Open. The International Lawn Tennis Federation, alarmed by the control of the promoters, approved Kramer's Grand Prix. Twenty seven tournaments including the three Grand Slams, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open were played that year, with Stockholm tournament ending on November 1, 1970. The independent professional players along with a few contract players entered the Grand Prix circuit.

Contract players could play Grand Prix events provided their contracts allowed it, and that they had adequate time apart from their own circuit. The first WCT tournaments existed in February of 1968 and the first NTL tournaments were held in March 1969. There was conflict between the WCT and the ILTF. The ILTF Grand Prix and WCT circuits merged in 1978. During this time, global professional athletes increased their profiles, both men and women. By the 1970’s in America, tennis courts were common features of public recreational locations. On August 23, 1973, tennis used a computer ranking system, so players can gain rightful entries into tournaments. Billie Jean King’s match hosts a record of 30,000 spectators back in 1973. She proved that women have every right to play tennis and she exposed the evil of sexism in society in general. Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum is the largest tennis museum in the world and it is very first tennis museum which was created on April 14, 1977.

The United States Tennis Association governs the U.S. Open. By 1990, the Association of Tennis Professionals, led by Hamilton Jordan, replaced the MTC as the governing body of men’s professional tennis. There is the ATP Tour too.  On 1986, the Championships adopted yellow tennis balls for the first time. This was done partly to make the speeding balls more visible for television cameras. In the year of 2000, the Grand Slam tournaments and the Masters Series tournaments became mandatory professional events if a player's ranking qualifies them for the tournament. Players were automatically entered and Masters and Slam events became the baseline for player rankings with up to an additional 5 tournaments also counted (18 in all plus the ATP Finals if they qualify). Before 2000, players' best of 14 tournaments were counted towards the ATP Point Rankings. On September 2, 2002, Venus and Serena Williams become the first sisters in tennis history to be ranked #1 and #2 in the WTA world rankings list. Venus and Serena Williams would be great tennis players and Serena Williams would be the greatest woman tennis player in history.

By 2004, Roger Federer becomes the first man in tennis history since Mats Wilander in 1988 to win three of the four grand slam events in a calendar year. He also captured ATP-best 11 titles in as many finals, including the end-of-season Masters Cup. He also set an Open Era record by winning 13 consecutive finals (dating back to 2003). Roger Federer would go on to become one of the greatest tennis players in history. In 2009, the Masters events were renamed the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 with the Monte-Carlo Masters becoming a non-mandatory event, meaning a player could use his or her results from a lower-level tournament in place of it. International Series Gold became the ATP World Tour 500 and the remaining events became the ATP World Tour 250.  America’s Serena Williams, Olympic women’s singles champion in London in 2012, have made great accomplishments in the Olympics. With her sister Venus, Serena Williams has accumulated a total of four Olympic gold medals, while her older sister has gone one better by taking the silver medal in the mixed doubles in Rio in 2016, making her the tennis player with the most Olympic medals: five. Today, tennis is an international sport with massive popularity and great influence worldwide.

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Women's Tennis

Women in tennis have existed for over 100 years. Professional women’s tennis existed from 1926. This was when one world number one woman player Suzanne Lenglen accepted $50,000 for a series of matches against the three time U.S. Champion Mary K. Browne. The series ended in 1927. The women didn’t compete as professionals again until 1941. This was when Alice Marble headlined a tour against Mary Hardwick. World War II hindered most professional competitions and many players were involved in entertaining the troops in sports exhibitions. In 1947, women professionals were again in action with a short lived series of exhibition matches between Pauline Betz and Sarah Palfrey Cooke, both U.S. National Champions. In 1950 and 1951, Bobby Riggs signed Betz and Gussie Moran to play a pro tour with Jack Kramer and Pancho Segura. Betz dominated Moran in the match. Althea Gibson turned professional by 1958 and joined with Karol Fageros as the opening act for the Harlem Globetrotters for one season. There was no long term women’s professional tennis until 1967 when promoter George McCall signed Billie Jean King, Ann Jones, Francoise Durr, and Rosie Casals (to join his tour of eight for two years). The professional women then played as independents as the open era began.

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These picture shows Billie Jean King (on the left) and Chanda Rubin (on the right). 

In 1970, promoter for the Pacific Southwest Championships in Los Angeles Jack Kramer  offered the women only $7,500 in prize money versus the men's total of $50,000. When Kramer refused to match the men's prize money, King and Casals urged the other women to boycott. Gladys Heldman, American publisher of World Tennis magazine, responded with a separate women's tour under the sponsorship of Virginia Slims cigarettes.  In 1971 and 1972, the WT Women’s Pro Tour offered nearly ten times the prize money of other pro women’s tennis events. The USLTA initially would not sanction the tour. Yet, the two groups determined to give Virginia Slims the individual events and the USLTA the tour, thus resolving the conflict. In 1973, the U.S. Open made history by offering equal prize money to men and women. Billie Jean King was the most visible advocate for the women’s cause. She earned over $100,000 in 1971 and 1972. During the Battle of the Sexes exhibition match against the vocally sexist Bobby Riggs in September of 1973, King brought even more media attention to tennis and to women professionals in all walks of life by beating Riggs. The Women’s Tennis Association was created in 1973. It is the principal organizing body of women’s professional tennis. It organized the worldwide, professional WTA Tour.

From 1984–98, the finals matches of the championship event were best-of-five, uniquely among women's tournaments. In 1999, the finals reverted to best-of-three. The WTA Tour Championships are generally considered to be the women's fifth most prestigious event (after the four Slam tournaments.) Sponsors have included Virginia Slims (1971–78), Avon (1979–82), Virginia Slims again (1983–94), J.P. Morgan Chase (1996–2000), Sanex (2001) Home Depot (2002), and Sony Ericsson (2006). During that time, women tennis has expanded worldwide. Legends have grown like Dorothea Lambert, Maria Bueno, Chris Evert, Margaret Court, Martina Navratilova, Stefi Graf, Venus Williams, Doris Hart, Billie Jean King, and of course Serena Williams. Stefi Graf and Martina Navratilova played greatly in their own rights. There is no question that Stefi Graf and Martina Navratilova are the greatest women tennis players of the 20th century. Their skills, their awards, and their power are undeniable.

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We know who the greatest women tennis player of all time is though. It’s not a debate anymore. One any neutral floor, no woman in history can defeat her in a tennis match. She revolutionized the game in the 21st century. She gave women, especially black women, even more opportunities to play in tennis. She inspires the black community in general. The greatest tennis woman player in history is of course Sister Serena Williams. There are tons of reasons why Serena Williams is the greatest of all time. She was ranked No. 1 from the Women’s Tennis Association in singles and on eight separate occasions between 2002 and 2017. She was ranked No. 1 for 186 consecutive weeks. She has won 23 Glam Slam singles titles making the records for the most Grand Slam wins by a tennis player in the Open Era. She is the only tennis player in history (man or woman) to have won singles titles at least six times in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments, and the only player ever to have won two Grand Slams seven times each (7 Wimbledon titles and 7 Australian Open titles). She is also the only tennis player to have won 10 Grand Slam singles titles in two separate decades. She has won an all-time record of 13 Grand Slam singles titles on hard court. Williams holds the Open Era record for most titles won at the Australian Open (7) and shares the Open Era record for most titles won at the US Open with Chris Evert (6). She also holds the all-time record for the most women's singles matches won at the Grand Slams with 316 matches. I can go on. Williams has won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles, all with her sister Venus, and the pair is unbeaten in Grand Slam doubles finals. She has won the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year award four times (2003, 2010, 2016, 2018), and in December 2015, she was named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine. She has 4 gold medals in the Olympics in 2000 (in Sydney), 2008 (in Beijing), and 2012 (in London). Serena Williams supports Black Lives Matters and has promoted great fashion. Serena Williams is the Greatest of All Time.

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The Modern Age

The modern age of tennis is dominated by international organizations, technology, Internet, and other funding by various entities. Video games readily show tennis as well. There are games like Mario Tennis, the TopSpin series, Wii Sports, and Grand Slam Tennis. Tournaments are readily organized by sex like there are men’s singles, women’s singles, and doubles. They can be divided by age groups and there are senior players too. Those with disabilities are in tennis with tournaments for those in wheelchair tennis and deaf tennis. That is why it is always important to defend disability rights. The four Grand Slam tournaments are found in the Australian Open (January-February), the French Open (May-June), Wimbledon (June-July), and the U.S. Open (August-September). They are the most famous events involving professional tennis. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are great tennis players. Serena Williams, Venus Williams, and other women tennis players have increased the popularity of tennis globally. Many tennis stars are millionaires, but many women have economic inequality. The Venus sisters have rightfully talked about these issues and publicly promote pay equality involving any tennis player regardless of sex. Many players travel the world to play in many tournaments and they get to witness the diverse cultures of the world. One very important message about this age is that regardless of what year that we live in, the game of tennis should always motivate excellence, great character, and happiness in the lives of humanity.

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Tons of people in the world love the great sport of tennis. It incorporates skill, teamwork at many junctures, perseverance, and a sense of athletic excellence. Adults and the youth have inspired the world with their tennis accomplishments, their philanthropic work, and their other contributions outside of the court too. Rackets, umpires, and legendary players outline a large part of the atmosphere. Fans go into stadiums in the thousands to witness the fast play, the close games, and the victors achieving monumental accolades. Tennis-like games have existed or centuries and modern day tennis has existed since the nineteenth century. France, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America had a large role in the fundamental development of the sport of tennis. When you see the longevity, the greatness, and the skill of Serena Williams, you witness the greatness of tennis. When you see Roger Federer’s determination, you also witness how tennis a transcendent sport. For a long time, more human beings are honoring the contributions of tennis players of black African descent. Althea Gibson’s historic wins in Wimbledon and the U.S. Open galvanized the growth of tennis in enumerable ways. Arthur Ashe advanced black excellence along with the iconic sisters of Venus Williams & Serena Williams. In our generation, more black tennis players are making their own marks in history. Black people and people of color in general have every right to perform tennis via a magnificent fashion (just like anyone else regardless of background). We are always inspired and motivated to fight for our dreams. Consequently, we adhere to the principle of social justice. After all of these years, we still believe in the Dream. During the future, tennis will continue to invoke wonder, excitement, and the constant truism of human greatness being achieved via resolve prodigiously.

Appendix A: The Tribute to African Americans in Tennis

For over 100 years, African Americans have participated heavily in tennis. To understand the rich cultural significance of black people involved in tennis, it is important to look at history from a chronological standpoint. Rev. W. W. Walker created the first interstate tournament for black people in 1898. The Philadelphia event was won by Thomas Jefferson of Lincoln University. Rev. W. W. Walker won the 1899 tournament by defeating Henry Freeman of Washington, D.C. In the year of 1900, Rev. W. W. Walker beat Howard University’s Charles Cook. The first faculty tennis club at Tuskegee Institute was created by Booker T. Washington’s son, E. Davidson and C. G. Kelly in 1909. Mrs. Maude Lawrence, Madelyn Baptist McCall, Ruth Shockey, and Mrs. C.O. “Mother” Seames created the Chicago Prairie Tennis Club in 1912.  There were women playing at the New York State Negro Tennis Championships too. This took place at the Cosmopolitan Tennis Club in Harlem. The Harlem’s Colonial Tennis Club or the Cosmopolitan Club in Harlem was founded in 1915. There were plans for a national tennis organization for African Americans by members of the Association Tennis Club in Washington, D.C. and the Monumental Tennis Club of Baltimore back in 1916. The American Tennis Association or the ATA was created on Thanksgiving Day in D.C. It was located in the YMCA and H. Stanton McCard was elected as the organization’s first leader. The Los Angeles Western Federation of Tennis Clubs was founded in the same year of 1916. In 1917, Lucy Diggs Slowe won the ATA women’s singles tournament. She became the first African American woman national champion in any sport. In that same year, the New York Tennis Association was founded. The first private ground for a black tennis club in America was built by “Mother” Mary Ann Seams and her husband. They purchased property on the South Side of Chicago to build the four tennis courts in 1920.

Ora Mae Washington was a legendary player who lived from 1898 to 1971. She was been called the “Queen of Tennis” She was born Caroline, County, Virginia and was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She excelled greatly in both tennis and basketball. She played basketball first in 1930 with the Germantown Hornets where her 22-1 record earned her the national female title. The Hornets were originally sponsored by a local YMCA, but they separated from the YMCA and became a fully professional team. The following year, Washington led the Hornets to thirty-three consecutive victories. Their opponents included African American women's team, white women's team and occasionally, African American men's teams. In one game against the male Quicksteppers in January 1932, they stayed close and then on a last second basket by Evelyn Mann, the Hornets emerged victorious. Later, playing with the Philadelphia Tribune from 1932–1942, she was the team's center, leading scorer, and coach. Washington played for the Tribunes in a three-game event against Bennett College in 1934. The Tribines won all three games, the second of which was described by the Chicago Defender as "the greatest exhibition ever staged in North Carolina." The "Tribune Girls" won 11 straight Women’s Colored Basketball World’s Championships. Washington was said to be the best black player in the world during that time. Before Athea Gisbon, there was Ora Washington.

She won ATA National Singles Titles in 1929 and in 1939. She also was an ATA National Doubles Champion for 12 consecutive years. She was so good that Helen Willis Moody refused to play her for fear that she might lose to a black woman. She was inducted into the Temple University Hall of Fame by the mid 1980’s and into the Woman’s Basketball Hall of Fame by 2009.

By 1921, Dwight Davis or the donor of the Davis Cup was the umpire at the ATA national semifinals. In that same year, the first black owned and operated country club existed in America. It was founded by the Progressive Realty Group. These were a group of African American businessmen. They purchased and opened the Shady Rest Golf and Tennis Club at Scotch Plains, New Jersey. The Springfield, Massachusetts Tennis Club and the New Jersey Tennis Association was formed in 1922. By 1925, the New England Tennis Association and St. Louis Tennis Association were formed. Reginald Weir and Gerald Norman Jr. were denied entry into the U.S. Law Tennis Association (USLTA) Junior Indoor Championship because of their race, even after paying the entry free. The NAACP supported them in 1929 which resulted in a formal grievance after Norman’s father filed a complaint. The University of Illinois tennis player Douglas Turner is the runner up in the Big Ten championships in 1929 too. In 1930, the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) received the Williams Trophy after it was donated by members of the Grand Central Station staff. Jimmie McDaniels played in the New York State Negro Tennis Championships in 1940. By 1941, on the anniversary of the ATA’s Silver Jubilee, USLTA president Holcombe Ward extended his warmest regards to the organization without allowing a single person of color to participate in his league. In the letter, he stated, “I extend most cordial greetings and sincere wishes for the success of the American Tennis Association in its further development, work and efforts to maintain the high standards of the game of tennis wherever played.”

Jimmie McDaniel was a great tennis player. He played an exhibition match against Don Budge, who as ranked number one in the world in 1940 (at the Cosmopolitan Tennis Club in Harlem, NYC). Jimmie won the ATA National Men’s Singles title in 1939, 1940, 1941 and 1946. He won the ATA National Men’s Doubles title in 1939 and 1941 with his college teammate Dr. Richard Cohen. He won the ATA National Men’s Doubles title in 1946 with James Stocks. He won the ATA National Men’s Doubles title in 1952 with Earthna Jacquet.

In 1950, Althea Gibson became the first African American to participate in the U.S. Nationals. In the first round, she defeated Barbara Knapp, but would then fall to Louise Brough in the second round, 1-6, 6-3, 7-9. Before a thunderstorm descended on the court, Gibson was actually beating Brough. When the players came back the next day, Gibson lost three straight games and the match. Victor Miller and Roosevelt Megginson were the first African Americans to play in the USLTA Interscholastic Championships. Lorraine Williams won the USLTA National Girls’ 15 Singles to become the first African American to win a USLTA national championship in 1953. By 1956, Althea Gibson won the French Championship women’s singles tournament. She was the first African American to win a Grand Slam title. She left the French Championship with the women’s doubles title. Gibson’s victories and success continued into the women’s doubles final at Wimbledon too. She left London victorious too.

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Katrina Adams (who is found on the far right) is a retired, famous tennis player. She was from Chicago. She is current President and CEO of the United States Tennis Association, Chairperson of the US Open and Chairperson of the Fed Cup.

In 1957, Althea Gibson was the first black woman to win a major U.S. tennis championship. She defeated Darlene Hard in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3, to capture the U.S. Clay Court singles title in River Forest, Illinois. The match was only about 47 minutes. Later on in that year, Gibson won the U.S. National Championships (now known as the U.S. Open) becoming the first African American to do so. Gibson was also the first African American to play in the Australian Open championship. She lost to Shirley Fry in straight sets. This was the only Grand Slam championship she would not win in singles. However, Gibson would win the Australian Open women’s doubles championship in 1957. Gibson lost the U.S. National Championships women’s doubles championship. That was the only doubles Grand Slam title she didn’t win. She won the mixed doubles championship. For her wins in the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. National Championships, Althea Gibson was named the Associated Press Woman Athlete of the Year. In 1958, Althea Gibson repeated as both U.S. National and Wimbledon champion. For a third consecutive year, Gibson won the women’s doubles title match at Wimbledon. She repeated as the AP Woman Athlete of the Year. It was during this year that she also announced her retirement from amateur tennis. Later, Sister Althea Gibson would play the sport of golf.

By 1959, Bob Ryland broke the color barrier for black men as participating in Jack Marsh’s World Pro Championship in Cleveland. He was the first African American man tennis professional. Arthur Ashe Jr. won the National Indoor Junior Tennis Championship in 1960. Next year in 1961, he repeated as the National Indoor Junior Tennis champion and he also won the USTA Interscholastic Singles Championship. Arthur Ashe was the first African American in the Davis Cup by 1963. He won the U.S. Hard Court Championships. Lenward Simpson was the youngest male to play at the U.S. Nationals at Forest Hills, New York at 15 years old. Arthur Ashe comes into UCLA by 1965. He won the NCAA singles championship and doubles championship with Ian Crookenden. Arthur Ashe Jr. took home the U.S. Clay Court Championship and the U.S. Indoor Doubles with teammate Charlie Pasarell in 1967. By 1968, Arthur Ashe Jr. was the first and only black man to win the U.S. Open. It was the first Open in the Open era. He defeated Davis Cup teammate Bob Lutz to win the U.S. Amateur Championship. To this day, he is the only player to win the amateur and national championships in the same year.

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In 1970, Arthur Ashe Jr. became the first and only black man to win the Australian Open. Juan Farrow won the U.S. Boys’ 12 Singles Championship and also won the doubles title with the teammate Lawrence Hooper. In 1971, Arthur Ashe Jr. teamed up with Marty Riessen to win the French Open men’s doubles title. In that year, Althea Gibson is elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Juan Farrow in 1972 won his second championship in the U.S. Boys’ 14 Singles. Diane Morrison in the same year won the National Public Parks Girls 16U Singles Championship. In 1973, Juan Farrow won the National Boys Indoor 16 Singles Championship. Lenward Simpson in 1974 signed with the Detroit Loves and was in the process of the first black player in World Team Tennis. Arthur Ashe Jr. won the Wimbledon men’s singles title by defeating Jimmy Connors in 1975. He was the first and only black man to win the event.  Bruce Foxworth and Roger Guedes won the NCAA Division II doubles. They were from Hampton University. Hampton was the first historically black college or university to win the Division II title. Andrea Whitmore Buchanan in 1978 won the National Parks singles, doubles, and mixed doubles titles. She was the first African American to win a championship and the second only woman to win three major events in the tournament’s 52 year history. In that same year, the Girls 14 Indoor Doubles was won by Kathy Foxworth and Lori Kosten. In 1980, Leslie Allen was the first African American woman to play in the main draw of a professional tournament in Open era history. In the same year, the U.S. Girls 16 Hard Court Doubles, U.S. Girls 18 Indoor Doubles, and the U.S. Girls 18 Clay Court Doubles are won by Houston duo Zina Garrison and Lori McNeil. Leslie Allen won the Avon Championships of Detroit in 1981. She was the first black woman since Althea Gibson to win a major title.

Yannick Noah in 1983 became the first black man to win the French Open when he defeated defending champion Mats Wilander, 6-2, 7-5, 7-6. He was 23 years old back then. He was the first Frenchman to win the French Open singles championship since 1946. He was the last Frenchman to win that event. That victory was his first and last Grand Slam singles title. In 1984, many events come about. Camille Benjamin made it to the French Open semifinals. Lloyd Bourne (who was a two time All-American at Stanford) reached the round of 16 at the Australian Open. Todd Nelson made it to the round of 32 of the U.S. Open. Pepperdine University’s Jerome Jones and Kelly Jones (no relation) won the NCAA’s doubles championship.

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These two Sisters are Zina Garrison on the left and Mashona Washington on the right. 

Lori McNeil and Zina Garrison faced off in the Eckerd Tennis Open, which is the first time two black players meet in a major professional tennis championship in 1986. McNeil defeated Garrison, 2-6, 7-5, 6-2. Northwestern University’s Katrina Adams was the first African American woman to win a NCAA doubles title in 1987. She teamed up with Diane Donnelly to beat Stanford’s Patty Fendick and Stephanie Savides, 6-2, 6-4. In 1988, Zina Garrison and Pam Shriver won the Olympic gold medal for women’s doubles in Seoul, South Korea. Garrison also took home bronze in the women’s singles tournament. U.S. national team named MaliVai Washington to its team. By 1990, Zina Garrison defeated Monica Seles, ending her 36-match winning streak, and then stuns Steffi Graf in the Wimbledon semifinals to advance to her first Grand Slam championship. Garrison would go on to lose to Martina Navratilova in the title bout, but by playing in the championship, Garrison becomes the first black woman to reach a Grand Slam final since Althea Gibson in 1958. Mashona Washington won the USTA National Indoor 18 Singles by 1992. MaliVai Washington reached the Wimbledon singles final in 1996. He falls to the Dutchman Richard Krajicek in straight sets. Washington was the first black man to reach the title game since Arthur Ashe Jr. During the year of 1996 also, he is named to the U.S. Olympic tennis team. He was the first African American to receive that honor. Chanda Rubin and partner Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario win the Australian Open doubles title in 1996, and Rubin fought her way to the semifinals of the Australian Open, where she loses to eventual champion Monica Seles in three sets.

1998 came and during that year, Venus Williams hits a 125 mph serve at Wimbledon. She was the first woman to do so. The Wimbledon and U.S. Open mixed doubles championships are won by Serena Williams and Max Mirnyi in 1998. The Australian Open and French Open mixed doubles finals were won by Venus Williams and Justin Gimelstob in the same year. Steve Campbell reached the Australian Open’s round of 32 in 1998 too. In 1999, Serena Williams became the first black woman to reach a Grand Slam singles championship since her sister Venus made the U.S. Open final 2 years before. After Serena wins the U.S. Open, she became the first black woman since Althea Gibson to win a Grand Slam singles title. Both the Wimbledon and U.S. Open women’s singles championships were won by Venus Williams in 2000. Serena Williams and Venus Williams won the Wimbledon women’s doubles title in the year of 2000. They take home the gold in the Olympic women’s doubles. Venus Williams gets gold in the women’s singles championship too.

Sports Illustrated for Women honored Venus with its Sportswoman of the Year accolade in 2000 as well.  Serena Williams won three of the four Grand Slam women’s singles championships: French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open (back in 2002). Serena and Venus Williams team up to win the Wimbledon women’s doubles title too in 2002. Serena Williams and Venus Williams are No. 1 and No. 2 in the world. This is the first and only time in history that siblings have accomplished that feat in 2002. Serena Williams did major feats in 2003. In that year, she had the Serena Slam by winning every Grand Slam singles title consecutively (though not in the same calendar year). She was the first black woman to win the Australian Open in 2003. In 2004, Scoville Jenkins (who was 18 back then) won the USTA National Open Hard Court title. He was the first African American to do so.  James Blake achieves the highest world ranking for a black man since Arthur Ashe Jr. in 1979. Blake’s five ATP titles propel him to No. 4 in the world in 2006.

Venus and Serena Williams win their second women’s doubles Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Summer Games. Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga reached the Australian Open final as an unseeded player, having defeated four seeded players to reach the championship in the same year. His ascent to the title match includes a straight-sets win over Rafael Nadal, the No. 2 player in the world, in the semifinals. Ultimately, Tsonga loses in four sets to world No. 3 Novak Djokovic. Tsonga’s first-set victory was the only set Djokovic dropped the entire tournament. Tsonga became the second black man to reach the final and would’ve become the second to win the event (Arthur Ashe Jr.).

Tsonga was actually the first and one of only three players (Tomas Berdych and Stan Wawrinka) to garner Grand Slam victories against the Big Four: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal. The Australian Open Girls Junior Singles title is won by Taylor Townsend in 2012. Shenay Perry was a great tennis player and coach too in the 21st century.

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At the 2012 London Olympics, Serena Williams captured her first gold medal in the women’s singles event. Madison Keys took home her first WTA title in 2014. Donald Young and Taylor Townsend reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open mixed doubles in 2014 too. Sloane Stephens (in 2015) won her first Women’s Tennis Association tour-level tournament in 84 tries, defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2. The 22-year-old back then becomes the first African-American woman to win the Citi Open since the tournament started featuring women’s events in 2011.

Katrina Adams became the first African-American, first former professional player and youngest person elected president of the United States Tennis Association by 2015. Serena Williams won the 2017 Australian Open at January. This allows Serena Williams to set the record for the most Grand Slam wins being 23 by a tennis player in the Open era. She is now only one behind Margaret Court who holds the all-time record of 24. Michigan’s Brienne Minor was the first black woman to win the NCAA’s Division I singles championship. She defeated Florida’s Belinda Woolcock, 3-6. 6-3, 6-3, to become the first African-American to win an NCAA tennis singles championship since Arthur Ashe Jr. in 1965. Congratulations to Sister Sloane Stephens for winning the 2018 Miami Open. She continues to make history and we all honor her achievements.

Yes, Still we rise.

By Timothy

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