8370-YouthTennis_Graphics_findevent_200x190

2014 US Open Long Sleeve Shirt

2014 US Open Patriotic Shirt

2014 US Open Women's Shirt

2014 US Open Hat

2014 US Open Men's Pullover Jacket

Jumbo Tennis Ball

2014 US Open Tennis Balls

2014 US Open Shirt

2014 US Open Polo Shirt

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Robert Walter Johnson: The Teacher

February 7, 2014 11:43 AM
Dr. Robert Walter Johnson.
By E.J. Crawford, USTA.com
 
Dr. Robert Johnson was, first and foremost, a teacher. And he was perhaps the most formative instructor in the history of African-American tennis. His students included Grand Slam titlists Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe as well as countless young black players who traveled to his home in Lynchburg, Va., to learn from the physician who turned a backyard tennis court into a training ground for future champions – and a catalyst for change.
 
Born in 1899, Johnson was a star football player – an All-American in 1924 at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania – who turned to tennis while in medical school as a way to stay in shape. He would go on to become one of the game’s leading proponents, dedicated to integrating African-American athletes into what was then a nearly all-white sport. To that end, Johnson established a Junior Development program for the American Tennis Association and eventually rose to become the ATA’s vice president. He also was the tournament director for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Championships Association, a group of black colleges.
 
But he is best remembered for his tutelage of Gibson and Ashe. Johnson and Gibson actually teamed to win seven ATA mixed doubles titles together before she went on to acclaim in singles, winning five Grand Slam titles including the U.S. Championships in 1957 and 1958. Ashe would win three Slam singles titles in all, including the inaugural US Open in 1968.
 
Johnson died in 1971, having lived to see so much of his work come to fruition. In 2009, he joined his two most famous pupils in the International Tennis Hall of Fame, a man born in the 19th Century whose tireless efforts to provide opportunities for all competitors, as the Tennis Hall of Fame notes in its official bio, forever changed the sport of tennis – and the face of sport – in the 20th and on into the 21st.
 
 

Back

 
Print Article Email Article Newsletter Signup Share
USTA Membership
Learn More or Login
Learn More or Login
Espanol
 
Newsletter Signup
 
 
 
 

Copyright 2014 by United States Tennis Association. All Rights Reserved.

Online Advertising | Site Map | About Us | Careers | Internships | Contact Us | Terms of Use | Umpire Policy | Privacy Policy

Connect with us! Facebook-38x39 Twitter-38x39 Youtube-38x39