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Inspiring Accomplishments

Althea Gibson
Venus and Serena Williams

Althea Gibson breaks color barrier in 1950 at the U.S. Nationals
For years, Gibson was the dominant player in the American Tennis Association, an all-black organization. In order to increase the level of her competition, though, Gibson would have to break down the color barrier that existed around the United States Lawn Tennis Association. She was denied entry into USLTA events on several occasions and, as a result, spent years lobbying her cause. Finally, on August 28, 1950, Althea Gibson played her first match at the U.S. Championships. She went on to win the event in 1957 and 1958.

Gibson wins first Grand Slam title
For the first five years after her initial entry into USLTA events, Gibson achieved little on-court success. That all changed in 1956. At the age of 28, Gibson became the first African-American woman to win a major singles title when she claimed the French Championships. With her first major championship secured, Gibson went on to win four more over the next two years (Wimbledon '57, '58; U.S. Championships '57, '58).

Learn more about Althea Gibson

Arthur Ashe is amazing in 1968
In any year, Ashe's accomplishments in 1968 would have been considered historic, but achieving them in 1968 makes them even more extraordinary. He started by becoming the first African-American male to win a men's singles title at a Grand Slam when he won the first ever US Open men's singles championship. He then went on to lead the U.S. Davis Cup team to a resounding victory over Australia in the final of the international competition. And he did this in a year that is commonly referred to as the most tumultuous in the history of our nation. Consider that Ashe's backdrop was a nation where race relations were hitting their most tense moments, the anti-war movement was moving into high gear, and all was underlined by the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Sen. Robert Kennedy. In order to truly appreciate the courage Arthur Ashe had throughout his life, you must understand the courage he displayed in 1968.

Zina Garrison reaches Wimbledon final in 1990
Zina Garrison was the first African-American woman to reach a Grand Slam final since legend Althea Gibson 32 years earlier. Garrison defeated Monica Seles, ending Seles’ 36-match winning streak, and Steffi Graf en route to the final. She lost in the championship match to Martina Navratilova, 6-4, 6-1.

MaliVai Washington reaches Wimbledon final in 1996
A young MaliVai Washington at age 6 watched Arthur Ashe become the only African-American man to win Wimbledon. In 1996, Washington graced the same court in the men’s final against Richard Krajicek. "I have a lot of support from the black community in the States and around the world," said Washington, currently a tennis broadcaster for ESPN. "It's great when you can win because you're winning for yourself and you're winning for those who are pulling for you. It's an honor to be the first black since Arthur to be in the final. I just hope I can spur more young blacks into playing the game."

Venus advances to 1997 US Open final in tournament debut
Playing in her US Open debut at age 17, American Venus Williams reached the final, becoming the first African-American women’s finalist since Althea Gibson won the title in 1958. The youngster from Compton, Calif., lost to Martina Hingis, 6-0, 6-4, but went on to win the 2000 and 2001 US Open titles.

Serena Williams wins US Open in 1999
On Sept. 11, 1999, Serena became the first black woman to claim a Grand Slam singles title since Althea Gibson in 1958. After the match, she received a call from President Clinton and also spoke to the president's daughter, Chelsea. The next day, Serena and her sister, Venus, won the US Open doubles title.

2000 is golden for Venus Williams
At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Venus Williams became the first woman ever to take home the Olympic tennis gold medal in both singles and doubles. She also became only the second player to win Wimbledon, the US Open and the Olympics in the same year. (Steffi Graf accomplished the feat in 1988.) The win at Wimbledon was the first for a black woman since Althea Gibson in 1958.

Venus and Serena Williams meet in prime-time final in 2001
On Sept. 8, 2001, in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Venus won her second consecutive US Open title, beating sister Serena in the first women's final ever televised in prime time. The match, which drew 51 percent more viewers than the previous year’s final, was also the first Grand Slam final between siblings since the inaugural Grand Slam championship at Wimbledon in 1884.

Simmonds makes history at 2003 Australian Open
Phillip Simmonds had his name etched in the tennis history books in 2003, when he and doubles partner Scott Oudsema became the first U.S. team ever to win the boys’ doubles championship at the Australian Open Junior Tennis Championships. Simmonds, from Reston, Va., and Oudsema, from Kalamazoo, Mich., captured their first Grand Slam title by knocking off the world’s top-ranked team, Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau, 6-4, 6-4. The duo took over the world No. 1 ranking with their victory.

Young takes home Orange Bowl title
Fourteen-year-old Donald Young became the first American since Jim Courier to win the boys’ 16s singles title at the Orange Bowl International Championships, as well as the first African-American to win a singles title in the 57-year history of the event, outlasting Aljoscho Thron of Germany, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, in the final. The victory was just one of Young’s many successes in 2003. The Chicago native also swept the singles and doubles titles at Les Petits As and Teen Tennis, two of the most prestigious events in the world for players 14 and younger.

Young makes history at Easter Bowl
The following year, in 2004, Young continued to prove why he was one of the most highly touted junior players in the country, as the young lefty made history at the Easter Bowl, USTA National Spring Championships, where, at age 14, he became the youngest person ever to win the boys’ 18s title, after coming from behind to defeat top-seed Daniel Yoo, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, in the final. The winner of the boys’ 14s Easter Bowl title in 2003, Young was also the first person in the 37-year history of the tournament to win the boys' 14s and 18s titles in back-to-back years.

Jenkins' amazing season
Scoville Jenkins will not soon forget the tremendous year he had in 2004. During the first half of the season, he posted a number of impressive results, including winning the singles title at the Astrid Bowl in Belgium and reaching the doubles semifinals and singles quarterfinals at the junior Australian Open. But things really started to kick off for the 18-year-old Atlanta native over the summer. Jenkins gave a career-best performance in Grand Slam play, advancing to the singles semifinals at the Wimbledon Junior Championships in July. A month later, he won the boys’ 18 singles title at the prestigious USTA National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., becoming the first African-American winner in the 89-year history of the event. By winning Kalamazoo, Scoville received a wild card to compete in the men’s main draw at the US Open, and the 6-foot-1 right-hander faced defending champion and No. 2 seed Andy Roddick in the opening round in a night match televised live from Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Neilly wins boys' 18 Orange Bowl title
In the final ITF Grade A event of 2004, Timothy Neilly, 17, of Tampa, Fla., defeated Donald Young, 6-4, 7-5, to become the first African-American to win the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships Boys’ 18s singles title in the event’s 58-year history. Neilly and Young were also the first African-Americans to reach the Orange Bowl 18s final in the same year. 

Young wins Australian Open boys' title, becomes No. 1 in world
Seeded No. 2 in the 2005 Australian Open Junior Championships, Donald Young defeated No. 1 Sun-Yong Kim of Korea, 6-2, 6-4, in the boys' singles final to become the youngest boy to win a junior Grand Slam title at the age of 15 years, 6 months and 7 days. With the victory, Young became the youngest boy in history to reach No. 1 in the ITF World Junior Rankings, as well as the first African-American boy to be ranked No. 1 in the world in singles.

Augustine, Muhammad are unbeatable at Les Petits As
Thirteen-year-olds Brittany Augustine and Asia Muhammad teamed together to win the doubles title at 2005 Les Petits As, the most prestigious event in the world for players aged 14 and under, held annually in Tarbes, France. The second-seeded duo did not drop a set in any of their matches until the final, where they defeated the French team of Gracia Radovanovic and Charlotte Rodier, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.

Serena Williams wins second career Australian Open title
The superstar captured the hearts of Melbourne Park with a triumphant trip Down Under, defeating fellow American Lindsay Davenport in three sets, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0, to take the 2005 title. In the semifinals, Williams played a memorable match against Maria Sharapova, coming back from a set down to upset the Russian, 8-6, in the third set.

Venus Williams captures third career Wimbledon championship
Silencing her critics with a dream run at the All-England Club in 2005, the elder Williams sister won her first Grand Slam title since the 2001 US Open, marking the fifth major championship of her career. Venus upset top-seed Lindsay Davenport in the final, at two hours, 45 minutes, the longest ladies' singles final in the history of the prestigious event.

Blake's career year in 2006
James Blake compiled a career-best season in 2006, winning five ATP titles -- Sydney, Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Bangkok and Stockholm -- and reaching eight finals, including the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup final in Shanghai, where he lost to Roger Federer. The popular American became the first African-American to rank in the top 10 since Arthur Ashe on Jan. 21, 1980, and went on to match Ashe’s career-best, year-end finish of No. 4 (in 1985). Blake also ended the year ranked as the No. 1 American for the first time in his career. In addition, he represented the United States in Davis Cup play and helped the U.S. team reach the semifinals before losing to Russia in Moscow. He surpassed $1 million in earnings in a season for the first time, with a career-best $1,894,295.

Young repeats as singles champion at USTA National Championships
Donald Young captured the singles titles at the 2006 USTA Boys’ 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., to become the 10th player in the 91-year history of the USTA Boys’ 18s to repeat as singles champion and the first since Phillip King in 1999-2000. Young did not drop a set en route to his 12th USTA national championship. He also partnered with Alexander Clayton to win the doubles title. Earlier in the year, Young swept the singles and doubles titles at the Easter Bowl.

Serena Williams wins 2007 Australian Open
In one of the most inspirational and gritty returns to prominence for an all-time great, Serena Williams crushed Maria Sharapova, 6-1, 6-2, to win her eighth Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open. Unseeded in the draw, Serena knocked off six seeded players en route to the title, including No. 5 Nadia Petrova and No. 1 Sharapova. As a result of her triumph, Serena's ranking skyrocketed from No. 81 in the world to No. 14.

Blake reaches milestone 200 ATP victories
Top-seeded James Blake reached 200 career ATP match victories at the 2007 Delray Beach International Tennis Championships, with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Scoville Jenkins. "It makes me feel old and with relative success, which is a good feeling,'' Blake told AP after the victory. "To win 200 matches means there's probably a few I've actually forgotten, which is something I never would have believed. It's nice to know I've beaten some quality players.''

Venus Williams wins fourth Wimbledon title
Venus Williams won her fourth Wimbledon title in 2007, beating surprise finalist Marion Bartoli, 6-4, 6-1, for her sixth Grand Slam title. She also won Wimbledon in 2000, 2001 and 2005.

Young captures Wimbledon boys' championship
Donald Young picked up his second junior Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon in 2007, joining an illustrious group of tennis greats, including Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, Tracy Austin, Stefan Edberg, Roger Federer, Martina Hingis and Amelie Mauresmo, who also triumphed at Wimbledon during their junior careers.

Blake helps U.S. team win 2007 Davis Cup
In the 2007 Davis Cup final between the United States and Russia, Jame Blake came back from a set down to defeat Dmitry Tursunov, 1-6, 6-3, 7-5, to earn his second point of the tie. On Day 1 of the competition, with the U.S. holding an early 1-0 lead, Blake won a pivotal point for his country, putting the Bryans in position to clinch. Overall, the United States defeated Russia, 4-1, in the best-of-five World Group series, winning the prestigious international team title for a record 32nd time.

Venus defeats Serena to capture fifth Wimbledon crown
Venus Williams defeated younger sister Serena, 7-5, 6-4, for her fifth Wimbledon title and second in a row. Venus avenged two previous losses to her younger sibling in the final at the All England Club and reasserted her dominance on her favorite court and favorite grass surface. The Williams sisters also teamed together to take home the women's doubles title.

Serena Williams claims 10th Grand Slam title
Serena Williams defeated Dinara Safina, 6-0, 6-3, to win her 10th career Grand Slam title at the 2009 Australian Open. With the win, Williams became the fifth woman to win four or more Australian titles. By making the singles and doubles finals, she already had become the all-time leading money winner in women's sports.

Keys, 14, wins in WTA Tour debut
Fourteen-year-old Madison Keys of Boca Raton, Fla., made her WTA debut a memorable one. After receiving a wild card into the MPS Group Championships in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., in April 2009, Keys rallied from 5-2 down in the first set to defeat 81st-ranked Alla Kudryavtseva, 7-5, 6-4.

Grand year for Serena in singles, Williams sisters in doubles
2009 was a big one for Serena, finishing the year ranked No. 1, winning her 10th and 11th career Grand Slam singles titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon (where she defeated sister Venus in the final), and winning her second career Tour Championships title. She also captured three of the four Grand Slam doubles titles with Venus (Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open).

Back-to-back wins for Serena in Australia; Williams sisters win doubles title
Defending champion Serena Williams captured her fifth Australian Open title in 2010, defeating back-from-retirement Justine Henin in a three-set final and equaling Billie Jean King's total of 12 Grand Slam singles championships. Serena and older sister Venus also won their fourth women's doubles title in Melbourne, beating top-seeds Cara Black and Liezel Huber, 6-4, 6-3, in the final at Rod Laver Arena. The sisters won the Australian title for the first time in 2001 and added championships in 2003 and 2009.

Historical win for Serena at 2010 Wimbledon
In yet another sterling performance in a major final, Serena Williams picked apart Russia's Vera Zvonareva, 6-3, 6-2, to win her fourth Wimbledon title, with the legendary Billie Jean King in attendance in the Royal Box cheering her on. With the victory, Williams overtook her former Fed Cup captain with her 13th Grand Slam singles title and is now within shouting distance of three other Americans, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, both of whom have 18, and Helen Wills, who has 19. (Australian Margaret Court heads the list with 24, and German Steffi Graf owns 22.)

Stephens shines on world stage in 2010
Sloane Stephens had the most successful year of any American in Grand Slam play in 2010, picking up girls' doubles titles at three of the four majors -- the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open -- with partner Timea Babos of Hungary. The 17-year-old from Boca Raton, Fla., also posted outstanding results in the singles draws at the tournaments, reaching the quarterfinals at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon, as well as the semifinals at the US Open.

Andrews, Townsend lead Team USA to victory at World Junior Tennis
Rising stars Gabrielle Andrews and Taylor Townsend joined Brooke Austin to bring home a record fourth consecutive World Junior Tennis championship for Team USA in 2010, continuing an unprecedented run of dominance for U.S. girls at the event, which is the 14-and-under equivalent of Fed Cup.

Andrews' first pro win among many highlights in 2011
Pomona, California's Gabrielle Andrews, the No. 1-ranked player in the USTA Girls' 18s, had a huge year in 2011, with results that included reaching the doubles final at the US Open, winning the singles title at the USTA National Clay Courts, capturing the doubles title and finishing runner-up in singles at the Easter Bowl, and winning the doubles title at the USTA International Spring Championships. Andrews, a member of the U.S. Junior Fed Cup team, also won the first pro match of her career in May at the USTA Women’s $50,000 Challenger in Carson, Calif., posting a 6-4, 6-1 win over former four-year USC starter Amanda Fink.

Townsend sweeps titles at Australian Open Junior Championships
Fifteen-year-old Taylor Townsend defeated Yulia Putintseva of Russia, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, to win the girls' singles event at the 2012 Australian Open. Just a day earlier, Townsend teamed with Gabrielle Andrews to capture the girls' doubles title in Melbourne.

Tiafoe wins prestigious titles at AEGON Junior International, Les Petits As
A week after capturing the boys’ singles title at the AEGON Junior International in Bolton, England, Francis Tiafoe, a 14-year-old from College Park, Md., beat William Blumberg, a 13-year-old from Greenwich, Conn., 6-0, 6-2, in an All-American boys’ singles final at Les Petits As in Tarbes, France, the second of two premier international junior tournaments for players ages 14 and under held in Europe in January 2012.

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