Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Words Of Wisdom About ... Women In Sports

I started a series of posts titled "Words Of Wisdom About". Every Tuesday I will publish a post titled "Words Of Wisdom" and they are Words of Wisdom from various guest posters and guest bloggers about various random topics that I choose. This is my second installment. Enjoy!

Today’s Guest blogger is Sheila, “Publisher of Black Tennis Pro’s blog site.”

Words Of Wisdom About… “Women In Sports - Tennis In The United States
Tennis, Basketball, Football, Baseball and on and on. Whether in uniform, or behind the microphone in the
commentator’s booth, women have permanently etched their way into each and every sport. As one who loves sports, with a particular emphasis on tennis of course, I’m always overjoyed to see women break down barriers and make their mark somewhere in the world of sports.

On this occasion, however, I’m going to talk about women in tennis (yeah, surprise huh!)

Lawn tennis was popular among the well-to-do, who played avidly in their leisure time for health, competition and entertainment. Tennis, like golf, was part of a culture of exclusive private sports clubs for wealthy men and their wives and children. Jewish people, African Americans and recent immigrants were usually excluded. By the mid-twentieth century, some Jewish clubs had formed and an all-Black American Tennis Association extended opportunities for tournament competition to African American tennis players.

One side effect of all this athletic activity by the wealthy was that it prompted the educated leaders of many settlement houses and later public programs to emphasize the health and mental benefits for children in poor neighborhoods. Althea Gibson is an example of a beneficiary of such efforts.

A trailblazing athlete who become the first African American to win championships at Grand Slam tournaments such as Wimbledon, the French Open, the Australian Doubles and the United States Open in the late 1950s. Gibson had a scintillating amateur career in spite of segregated offerings earlier in the decade. In 1957, she was the first black to be voted by the Associated Press as it Female Athlete of the Year.

One of the most significant women ever in the history of American tennis is Billie Jean King. King's courage in fighting to level the playing field in sports in the 1960s and '70s has made her a pioneer for girls who now take high school, college and professional sports for granted. She signed a $1 contract to play in the Virginia Slims tennis tournament, which became the first professional tour for women, in 1970. She founded the Women's Tennis Association in 1973, the same year she defeated former No. 1 men's player Bobby Riggs in one of the most famous matches in history. And in 1974, she co-founded the coed professional tennis league World Team Tennis and founded the Women's Sports Foundation. She was persistent in calling for equal prize money in her sport, which resulted in the U.S. Open being the first Grand Slam tournament to pay the same to men's and women's champions in 1973. (Wimbledon, the last holdout, finally caught up in 2007).

Post King’s efforts and the world-wide explosion of the popularity of tennis superstar sisters Venus and Serena Williams, African American women are holding tennis related positions that have never been previously occupied by them. Former University of Florida (UF) tennis champion Traci Green was recently hired as the head coach of Harvard University's women's tennis team. Green, 28, who was mentored by Arthur Ashe, is the first Black woman to head any coaching staff for any Harvard University sport.

Women's tennis has far outclassed men's tennis at the box office this decade. Stars like Maria Sharapova,
Venus Williams and Serena Williams have catapulted the sport into the mainstream consciousness.

There is a new group of ladies each year bringing their game, beauty and style to the courts. While you may never know what to expect, and sometimes be very surprised in what you get, the ladies never cease to amaze!

Thank you all for giving audience to Sheila, of Black Tennis Pros! Please sound in, leave a comment and also go by Black Tennis Pros and pay Sheila a visit!

Peace & Love

8 People Saying Something!

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T 03 June, 2008 11:02

i am a tennis fanatic

capybara 03 June, 2008 12:51

What a beautifully written article. I have long been an admirer of the Williams sisters. Thanks for your comments on my blog I shall give you a Stumble!

Shelia 03 June, 2008 16:00

Thanks for inviting me to share in this new aspect of your site Regina. It was a genuine pleasure.

I know that you'll put nothing but the best in this spot to share with your readers, and I'll be here to read it.

HEALTH NUT WANNABEE MOM 03 June, 2008 19:02

Really great information that I did not know a lot about. I admire tennis players. I tried and took lessons but was just a goof at it. I enjoyed this post!! Thanks

Lisa C 04 June, 2008 17:28

Regina~ Great pick for a guest blogger.

Shelia~ What an awesome post!! I say it all the time, I never knew so much about the sport until I met you. Thanks for shinning the light on us the way you do!

Believer 1964 05 June, 2008 01:16

Even if Tennis is not my favorite sport, this post was fascinating and informative.

Thanks Shelia for expanding my view. Tennis is cool, real cool!

Linney Shvede 07 June, 2008 14:10

Great post! I was a tennis player in the olden days :) I adore the Williams sisters; they made me watch tennis again after many years!

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com 08 June, 2008 01:04

Hello there Regina! {waves}

Did you see Serena Williams on the cover of Ebony?

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa

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