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February 5, 2008

After Althea and Ashe

The tennis pioneers helped pave the way for the Williams sisters and James Blake. But elitism and racism persist in the sport.

Carl Bialik

Tennis is an individual sport, with today's top players surrounded by family, friends, employees and hangers-on off the court, then standing on their own on court. But this solitude can't insulate the sport and its players from broader social forces, Cecil Harris and Larryette Kyle-DeBose demonstrate in Charging the Net: A History of Blacks in Tennis from Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe to the Williams Sisters. For the first half of this century, the white tennis world was largely successful in keeping blacks out, leading to the creation of the venerable American Tennis Association, which welcomed all comers. In recent decades, tennis has accepted, though not always welcomed, black players including champions such as Arthur Ashe and the Williams sisters, and dozens more who have traveled around the world in relative obscurity.

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- Sports
- posted on Dec 15, 09

Thanks for this compelling read, I will blog it soon. I met Arthur and interviewed him in 1990 and that in turn led me to law school he was quite inspiring and of course a major factor in making me want to learn tennis in 5th grade, 1975.

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