Today’s Guest blogger is Sheila, “Publisher of Black Tennis Pro’s blog site.”
Words Of Wisdom About… “Women In Sports - Tennis In The
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.
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. (
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.
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!