2020 Black History Month:

Adams named USTA president, 2015

Arthur Kapetanakis  |  February 21, 2020
August 26, 2019 - Katrina Adams, Immediate Past President of the USTA, at the unveiling of the Althea Gibson sculpture at the 2019 US Open. (Photo by Nicole Pereira /USTA)

Katrina Adams won 20 WTA doubles titles—seven of those with Zina Garrison—in her 12-year professional career, which ended after the 1999 US Open.


But it was in 2015 that the Chicago native earned perhaps the biggest title of her career: that of USTA Chairman and President. Adams’ historic appointment made her the first African-American, the first former professional tennis player and the youngest person ever to serve in the role. 


Across an unprecedented two consecutive terms (2015-16, 2017-18), Adams oversaw the completion of the five-year, $600 million strategic transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., and the 2017 opening of the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla. Her tenure also saw a record-extending 18th Fed Cup title for Team USA in 2017.



Adams put a strong emphasis on outreach efforts to underserved communities—with an emphasis on Hispanic communities—working towards the USTA's mission of making tennis look more like America.


“I look at myself going from the public courts to the boardroom, and I think every child needs to understand that no matter where you start, you can rise to the highest levels,” she told The Undefeated in a 2017 interview.


Now serving as Immediate Past President, Adams remains plugged in to the tennis landscape both domestically and internationally, through her current role as ITF Vice President (a position she’s held since 2015) and Fed Cup Committee Chairman (since 2016).


A former USTA national coach, Adams’ administrative efforts date back as far as 2005, when she became the executive director of the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program, a position she still holds today at the New York City NJTL chapter. She can also be seen and heard on Tennis Channel, where she has served as a broadcaster since 2003, bringing her tennis knowledge into homes across the country.


READ MORE: NJTL 50 for 50, Katrina Adams


In her playing days, Adams reached the doubles quarterfinals or better in all four Grand Slams, achieving a career-high doubles ranking of No. 8, and also reached the singles Round of 16 at Wimbledon early in her career in 1988. Prior to her pro career, she was an NCAA doubles champion at Northwestern University, where she was a two-time All-American. In 2014, she was inducted into the ITA Hall of Fame for her stellar college career.


All told, Adams has left an indelible mark on many parts of the tennis world. And even with all she's accomplished, her infectious energy and passion for the game suggest there is much more to come.


“When you look at the African-American [tennis] community as a whole, those numbers pretty much shot through the roof with the success of Venus and Serena over the last 10 to 15 years,” Adams told The New York Times in a 2015 interview. “It goes to show you that if there’s someone out there that looks like you that you can see and hear, it kind of motivates you.”


The same sentiment applies to her own influence. With her historic rise to the top of the USTA, Adams has undoubtedly built an inspirational legacy of her own.


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