Black History Month: The Best African American Tennis Players

Mark McCormickContributor IFebruary 26, 2010

Black history month is nearing its end, and all these African Americans that have made tennis much more interesting deserve some honorable mentions. Here they are:

Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe, I believe, is the best African American male tennis player of all time. He played a lot of sports in high school like basketball, football, and tennis. He led his tennis team to the state championship and his football team to another championship also. He went to UCLA with a full ride in 1963 for tennis. He was also the first African American to be put on the Davis Cup Team.

In 1965, he won the NCAA singles title, which is one of his biggest achievements. In 1968, he won the US Open and led his Davis Cup team to victory. Obviously, everyone had said when he accomplished these things early in his career that he was the best African American tennis player of all time.

Arthur Ashe is by far the best, adding on two more Grand Slams, the 1970 Australia Open, and the 1975 Wimbledon. He had also reached two other finals in the 1971 Australia Open and the 1972 Us Open. He was inducted into the Tennis Hall Of Fame in 1983. An honor to Arthur Ashe is the Arthur Ashe stadium that is used during the US Open every year.

James Blake

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James Blake started to play tennis when he was little with his brother Thomas Blake. He played tennis all throughout high school at Fairfield, Connecticut. At a tennis clinic in Harlem, James Blake had heard Arthur Ashe speak, and those words he said had inspired Blake to be more passionate about tennis and to go professional.

After high school, Blake went to Harvard until his sophomore year, where he went to start his career in tennis. James Blake didn't win a Slam title, but is still in the making of it. He reached a high rank of fourth in the ATP rankings in November '06. James Blake’s best results in a Slam was reaching three Quarterfinals, one in Australia in 2008 and two at the Us Open in 2005 and 2006.

James Blake is currently 30 years of age, dropping the rankings last year and fighting to stay in it.


Althea Gibson

A very long time ago, in the early 1900s, Althea Gibson was the women's popular tennis player. She was the very first African American to ever win a Grand Slam tournament. Althea had won the career slam, also winning the French Open in 1956, Australia in 1957, two Wimbledon's in 1956 and 1957, and two US Opens in 1956 and 1957.

Althea Gibson was also a tremendous doubles player, where she won the career doubles Slam with five different doubles partners. After Gibson retired from tennis, she started to play golf in 1970, where she was the first African American women's golfer to turn pro. Her success in these sports shows that she is one of the best athletes of all time.

She had many honors too, but her main one was being the first African American to be selected player of the year by the Associated Press. She was inducted into the tennis hall of fame in 1971 also.

Ora Washington

Before Althea Gibson was born, Ora Washington was showing American how good she can be in sports. Ora had played both basketball and tennis in her life and professionally in tennis and college basketball.

She was a star player for the Philadelphia Tribunes and Germantown Hornets women's basketball teams. By the time she retired from play, she was undefeated in tennis for 12 years and earned 201 trophies in her basketball and tennis career. Since being so successful in both of these sports, she clearly gets a spot as one of the best athletes in the 20th century.

Zina Garrison

Zina Garrison was born right near the end of Althea Gibson's tennis career. Zina Garrison had not played tennis until she was 10, though. She started her junior tennis career very well at 12 and won a national title when she was just 14.

When Zina was just 19-years-old, she had begun her professional tennis career. She skipped her high school graduation to play in the French Open, which was her debut to professional tennis. She played well in Grand Slam singles tournaments, reaching the final of Wimbledon in 1990 and winning the bronze medal at the 1988 Olympics.

Zina Garrison was a much better doubles player, though, making the Australia Open doubles final twice in 1987 and 1992 and winning the gold in the 1988 Olympics. In her mixed doubles career, she was much better, winning three Grand Slam mixed doubles titles and being runner up in three. Zina had won two Wimbledons in 1988 and 1990 and the Australia Open in 1987 and also reaching three other finals but fell short in all of them.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams is all full of success. Serena and her sister Venus won 11 Grand Slam doubles titles and two Olympic gold medals. Serena won two mixed doubles also: the 1998 Wimbledon and 1998 Us Open. In Serena's Grand Slam singles career, she has already won 12 titles. Serena still has many more Grand Slams in doubles and singles awaiting her as she has much more time in her career left.

Serena won the women's athlete of the decade, being the second African American woman to win this next to Althea Gibson. Serena could easily come down as one of the best women's tennis players of all time. We hope that the future has in store for us some more solid Slams that Serena can win.

Venus Williams

Venus is also very successful like Serena, winning 11 doubles Slam's and two Olympic medals with her sister, two mixed doubles and seven Grand Slam singles titles, and one Olympic gold medal.

She is still active, and even though she is a little older than Serena, she could still pull of some Grand Slams. Hey, maybe 2010 Wimbledon? You never know, she may want to avenge last year's to her little sister in the 2009 Wimbledon. We'll see what's in store for us.

Other Great African American Tennis Players

Donald Young

Thomas Blake

All these African American's have been very successful in tennis and have helped spread this sport all around the world. There will be many more African Americans coming in this decade who can break all these tennis players records.

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