WOMEN OF COLOR* IN TENNIS, PART 1
(*-as defined in the USA. photos very much not mine. happy belated international women’s day!)
(from left to right)
1. Althea Gibson (USA), 1927-2003. First person of color of any gender to win a Grand Slam (1956 French Open) and widely considered one of the greatest black female athletes. Five-time singles Grand Slam champion, six-time doubles champion, one-time mixed doubles champion.
2. Venus Williams (USA), b.1980. Currently ranked no.31, former no.1. Seven-time singles Grand Slam champion, thirteen-time doubles Grand Slam champion, two-time mixed doubles Grand Slam champion, four-time Olympic gold medalist (one in singles; three in doubles). Led the movement for equal prize money for women at Wimbledon and sparked debates about racial prejudice in tennis after being unfairly punished for her hair beads. Was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s Syndrome, in 2011, but still continues to play.
3. Gabriela Sabatini (ARG) b.1970. 1988 Olympic silver medalist and Wimbledon doubles champion. Upset Steffi Graf to win the 1990 US Open and was the flagbearer for Argentina at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
4. Evonne Goolagong (AUS) b.1951. Seven-time singles Grand Slam champion, six-time doubles Grand Slam champion, one-time mixed doubles Grand Slam Champion. An Indigenous Australian of the Wiradjuri group, Goolagong should have been no.1 in the world for two weeks in 1976, but due to incompetent record-keeping this was not discovered until 2007, when the WTA honored her 31 years late.
5. Maria Bueno (BRA), born 1939. Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and Eleven-time Grand Slam doubles champion. In 1958, teamed up with Althea Gibson to win the Wimbledon doubles title. A former world no.1 in singles, she was the first woman to win all four doubles slams in one calendar year.
6. Gigi Fernandez (left, USA/Puerto Rico), b.1964. Seventeen-time Grand Slam doubles champion, usually while paired with Natasha Zvereva. Became the first Puerto Rican woman to win an Olympic gold medal after pairing with Mary Joe Fernandez (no relation) to win doubles gold in 1988 and 1996.
6. Mary Joe Fernandez (right, USA), b.1971. Two-time doubles Grand Slam champion and three-time singles Grand Slam finalist. Two-time Olympic gold medalist with Gigi Fernandez, and singles bronze medalist in 1992. Born to a Cuban mother and Spanish father in the Dominican Republic, she currently works in tennis broadcasting.
7. Li Na (CHN), b.1982. Currently world no.2, the 2011 French Open and 2014 Australian Open champion. The first and only Asian national Grand Slam singles champion. In addition to being a ridiculously good tennis player, she is famous for her wit.
8. Serena Williams (USA), b.1981. Currently world no.1. Seventeen-time singles Grand Slam champion, thirteen-time doubles Grand Slam champion, two-time mixed doubles Grand Slam champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist (one singles; three doubles). While playing alongside one another, Venus and Serena have never lost a doubles Grand Slam final. Beyonce also wrote Serena a fan letter.