The American Tennis Association (ATA) once again holds 96th National Championships in Fort Lauderdale and announces plans for permanent site
Venus Williams is not only the top tennis player in the world, her design company V*Starr Interiors also will play a major role in construction of a permanent home and training facility for the American Tennis Association(ATA), scheduled to be built in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
By Charles Moseley
The Greater Fort Lauderdale Visitors & Conventions Bureau (CVB) is proud to announce that the City of Fort Lauderdale will once again be the host city for the 96th Annual National Tennis Championships, July 28 – Aug. 3, 2013.
Not only will this mark the second year in a row that the ATA has brought the nation’s largest Tennis Family Reunion in ATA history to Fort Lauderdale. But this will also mark a historic occasion as the ATA will unveil the ATA Permanent Home and Training Facility, which will incorporate a design partnership with the United States Tennis Association(USTA) Facilities Grant Department and well known tennis super star Venus Williams and her company V*Starr Interiors.
The American Tennis Association (ATA) began in 1916 by a group of visionaries who envisioned the day when the game of tennis would become more accessible to people of color. What began from a group of Black professionals at the be-ginning of the 20th Century has grown into the oldest Black sports organization in the United States.
Today, Serena Williams sits atop the tennis world and could arguably become the greatest tennis player in women’s professional tennis by the time her career is over. That possibility becomes more astonishing when you factor in how great her older sister Venus has been in her own right. One certainly cannot take anything away from either of the William sisters.
The story of Blacks in tennis however does not begin with this dynamic duo. Before the Williams Sisters there was Althea Gibson. She was the first African American woman to win a Grand Slam tournament. She won the French Open in 1956, Australian Open in 1957, two Wimbledon’s in 1956 and 1957, and two U.S. Opens in 1956 and 1957. She was in-ducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971.
Arthur Ashe is probably the most famous African American male tennis player whose roots began with the ATA. Ashe earned a tennis scholarship to attend UCLA in Southern California. In 1965 he won the NCAA. In 1968 he won the U.S. Open and led his U.S. Davis Cup Team to victory. Ashe also racked up two Grand Slam titles which included singles championships at the Australian Open in 1970 and 1971, the U.S. Open in 1972, and Wimbledon in 1975.
Their story is deeply rooted in the history of the American Tennis Association (ATA) whose mission continues until to be, until this day- to document and preserve the contributions that Blacks have made to the sport of tennis. The story of the so-called Black pioneers of tennis is as important as that of those who broke down and tore apart, racial stereotypes in other major sports. The ATA has insured that other tennis players of the past such as Ora Washington, Zina Garrison, Malachi Washington, James Blake and up and coming stars of today such as Donald Young and Sloane Stephens also receive their special place in American sports history.
According to the ATA official website-The American Tennis Association (ATA) has become the Mecca for Blacks-from all walks of life-who yearn to enjoy the camaraderie and competition offered by a sport for youngsters from age eight to 80.
This year several giants in the world of Black tennis will be recognized into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame. They include; John Lucas, former NBA great player, coach, and All-American tennis player, Virginia Glass, first female president of the ATA who received the “Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern California Tennis Association, Bessie Stockard, who won the first ATA National Women’s title in 1971 and a Tuskegee University Sports Hall of Fame member, Sydney Llewellyn, aka “Mr. Tennis,” known as greatest tennis coach in history his students include; Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe, Wilbert Davis, Robert Davis, Arthur Carrington, Donald Ringgold, Tom Jones, Michael O’kala, Louis and Sydney Glass, and others.