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Black tennis pioneers celebrated in new International Tennis Hall of Fame exhibit

February 02, 2022

More than a century of Black tennis history is being celebrated in a new virtual exhibit from the International Tennis Hall of Fame entitled Breaking Boundaries in Black Tennis. 


The exhibit highlights the breakthroughs, evolution and impact of Black tennis players and influential contributors to the sport globally, part of a multi-faceted initiative by the International Tennis Hall of Fame to educate fans on rich chapters of the sport's history.


The new exhibit is a global extension of the themes first introduced in Breaking the Barriers: The ATA and Black Tennis Pioneers, which launched last year and focused on Black tennis history in the United States.


Breaking the Barriers highlights five distinct time periods of Black history in American tennis—Creative Survival (1874-1910); Entree (1910-1938); Reform (1938-1955); Participation (1955-1965); and Liberation (1965-Present)—paired with a concurrent timeline of African-American history overall through a series of interactive imagery and videos. It also chronicles the history of the American Tennis Association (ATA), which was founded in 1916 from a collaboration of Black tennis clubs, and remains the longest continually-operating African-American sports organization in the nation

Featuring 70 contributors from 19 countries, Breaking Boundaries highlights several pioneers included in Breaking the Barriers and draws direct lines from them to the accomplishments by future generations.


“Because of what so many of these inspiring people accomplished on and off the court, I have had the opportunity to walk in their footsteps and accomplish all that I have because of their courage,” said Katrina Adams, chair of the ITHF’s Black Tennis History Committee and Past Chairman & President of the USTA. “I am truly grateful for the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s commitment to preserving this history, celebrating their success and inspiring the next generation of Black players.” 


Breaking Boundaries was piloted by the extensive research and contributions of the ITHF’s Black History Committee, which includes scholars, former players and global tennis experts: Roxanne Aaron, Katrina Adams, Leslie Allen, Lakshman Charanjiva, Bob Davis, Matt Leipzig, Ismail El Shafei, Sara Fornaciari, Nicolas Pereira, Andrea Rice, Chanda Rubin, Ken Shropshire, Damion Thomas, Jon Vegosen and MaliVai Washington.


“It has been a pure labor of love, bringing light to the importance of Black tennis history on a global front,” Adams said. “I am grateful for the committee’s passion and vision in bringing this to life.” 


Explore the exhibit at


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