24 The Great Black Best Tennis Players of History of All Time

Max Schnur

Tennis is a sport that is enjoyed and played around the world. It is a sport that requires skill, agility, and endurance. Throughout the years, some of the best players in the world have been black.

From the first black Grand Slam champion, Althea Gibson, to the current Grand Slam champions, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka, black tennis players have been some of the most influential and successful players in the sport.

This article will discuss some of the most notable black tennis players, their achievements, and their impact on the game.

1. Serena Williams

Serena Jameka Williams is a celebrated American tennis player who dominated the sport throughout her career. Her remarkable success and achievements have been widely appreciated in the tennis world.

She has been ranked as the world’s number-one female tennis player in singles by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) on eight different occasions. Her extraordinary skill has seen her win 23 Grand Slam singles titles, which is the most by any player in the Open Era.

Williams has also won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles with her sister Venus Williams, and has won four Olympic gold medals.

She is the only player in history to have achieved the ‘Career Golden Slam’ in both singles and doubles, a feat that involves winning a single Grand Slam tournament in all four major tennis disciplines. Moreover, Williams was the world’s number-one-ranked female singles player for a record total of 319 weeks.

She holds the record for the fastest serve among women, at 128.6 mph, and has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades throughout her career.

These include being voted by fans as the Most Impressive Female Athlete of the Decade in 2010, and being ranked as the most marketable female athlete in the world in 2011. These achievements have cemented Williams’ place in the history books and truly make her one of the greatest tennis players of all time.

2. Arthur Ashe

Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. was an incredibly successful American professional tennis player. He achieved a wide variety of accomplishments in his career, winning three Grand Slam titles in singles and two in doubles.

Ashe was the first Black player to be selected to the United States Davis Cup team, and the only Black man to ever win the singles titles at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open.

His impressive performance on the court made him an icon of the sport and an inspiring example of what can be achieved when talent and hard work come together. Ashe was a trailblazer in tennis, becoming the first Black player to represent the United States in the Davis Cup tournament and the first to win a Grand Slam singles title.

His historic win at Wimbledon in 1975 was a moment of great pride and celebration for the Black community, who saw it as a sign of progress in the fight for equality and representation in the sport.

Ashe’s success in the sport was a beacon of hope and a reminder of the strength and resilience of the Black community. Ashe’s career was not without its challenges.

He faced discrimination from the tennis establishment and the wider community, and he constantly had to fight for recognition and respect. Despite this, Ashe remained undeterred and continued to perform at the highest levels.

He was determined to make history and to push the boundaries of what was possible for a Black athlete in tennis. The legacy of Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. continues to live on in the sport today.

His accomplishments and contributions to tennis have been a source of inspiration for generations of players, and his courage and determination will continue to inspire those that come after him.

3. Venus Williams

Venus Ebony Starr Williams is a renowned American professional tennis player, widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. She has accomplished many feats in the sport, including becoming a former world No. 1 in both singles and doubles.

To date, she has won seven Grand Slam singles titles, five of which were won at Wimbledon, and two at the US Open. Throughout her career, Venus Williams has been a dominant force in the sport, with her powerful groundstrokes and aggressive playing style.

Her ability to vary her play between offense and defense has made her a difficult opponent, and her success on the court has earned her the respect of many in the tennis world. Williams has also been an influential figure in the world of tennis, inspiring many young players to take up the sport and pursue their dreams.

She has been a role model for many, showing that perseverance, dedication, and hard work can lead to success.

Venus Williams has also used her platform to advocate for equality and to help create more opportunities for people of color in tennis.In addition to her accomplishments on the court, Venus Williams has also been an ambassador for the sport, helping to promote tennis around the world.

She has appeared at many events, including the Olympics, and has been a key figure in the development of the WTA Tour. Overall, Venus Williams is a true icon of the sport and has left an indelible mark on the tennis world.

Her accomplishments and influence will be remembered for many years to come.

4. Althea Gibson

Althea Neale Gibson was an American tennis player and professional golfer. She was one of the first Black athletes to compete in international tennis, and she was the first African American to win a Grand Slam title.

In 1956, she made history by becoming the first African American to win a Grand Slam title. Gibson faced many obstacles in her career due to the color line of international tennis. Despite facing discrimination and prejudice, she was determined to succeed.

She persevered and eventually, she became the first African American to win a Grand Slam title in 1956. Gibson was a trailblazer for other African-American athletes who wanted to compete in international tennis.

Her success opened doors for them to compete and showed them that it was possible to overcome the color line. She was a pioneer in the world of tennis and her legacy lives on. Her courage and determination inspire people to this day.

5. James Blake

James Riley Blake is an iconic figure in the sport of tennis. He is a former professional tennis player who achieved great success throughout his career. Blake was a dominant force in the sport, winning 10 titles on the ATP Tour.

He was able to reach the pinnacle of the sport, becoming the fourth-ranked player in the world, which was the highest ranking he had ever achieved. Blake was known for his powerful and consistent play, which enabled him to win some of the toughest tournaments in the world.

He was also renowned for his determination and passion for the sport, which further propelled him to greatness. His legacy will live on in the sport of tennis and his accomplishments will be remembered for years to come.

6. Zina Garrison

Zina Lynna Garrison is an impressive former professional tennis player. She achieved great success in both singles and doubles events, making her a talented and versatile player. In 1990, Garrison was the runner-up in singles at the prestigious Wimbledon Championships.

Additionally, she was a three-time major mixed doubles champion. During the 1988 Seoul Olympics, she won an Olympic gold and bronze medal in women’s doubles and singles, respectively.

Her impressive achievements highlight her skill as a tennis player and her commitment to the sport. Garrison has left an indelible mark on the world of tennis, and her legacy will remain for years to come.

7. MaliVai Washington

MaliVai Washington, also known as “Mal”, was a professional tennis player from America. He achieved a great deal of success throughout his career, including reaching the final of the men’s singles tournament at Wimbledon in 1996.

This was an impressive feat as it is one of the most prestigious events in tennis. On top of this, Washington also won four ATP titles and his highest singles ranking was world No. 11, which he reached in October 1992.

This ranking was particularly impressive as it put him in the top 20 players in the world. Washington’s success was not just limited to his success on the court. He was also an ambassador for the sport, helping to promote it both in the USA and internationally.

He was part of the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016, which is a great honour. His career was marked by an impressive level of consistency, with him regularly competing at the highest levels of the sport.

MaliVai Washington will go down as one of the greatest American tennis players of all time. His achievements speak for themselves, and he will be remembered as one of the most successful players of his generation.

His legacy will live on forever, and his influence on the sport will be felt for years to come.

8. Jimmie McDaniel

Jimmie McDaniel was an African-American tennis player who made a huge impact on the sport. He was the four-time American Tennis Association singles champion and was considered the greatest black player of the pre-war era.

His impressive height of 6’5″ combined with the fact that he was a lefty made him a formidable opponent on the court. He was known for his relentless determination and sheer power. He was a true pioneer in the sport of tennis, and his legacy lives on to this day.

9. Tally Holmes

Talley Robert “Tally” Holmes was an accomplished tennis player in the 1910s and 1920s. He was well known for his skill on the court, making him a prominent figure in the sport. Holmes was born in the United States, and his career in tennis began at an early age.

He quickly developed a reputation as a strong competitor, and by the time he entered adulthood, he had become an established player. In 1916, Holmes was one of the founders of the American Tennis Association.

This organization was created to help African-American tennis players gain access to tournaments and competitions that had previously been denied to them.

The ATA’s mission was to “promote the sport of tennis and to foster harmony among its members.” Holmes was a formidable player and a respected leader in the sport. His commitment to the ATA was evident, as he was one of its earliest members.

Through his dedication, Holmes helped to lead the way in making sure that African-American players were given the opportunity to compete in the sport. The legacy of Talley Robert “Tally” Holmes lives on to this day.

He was a trailblazer in the sport of tennis, and his influence can still be felt today. His commitment to the ATA helped to open the door for African-American players to be given the chance to pursue their love of the game.

He was an important figure in American tennis history, and his legacy continues to inspire future generations of players.

10. Lucy Diggs Slowe

Lucy Diggs Slowe was an American educator and athlete who broke down many boundaries for African-American women.

She was the first African American woman to serve as Dean of Women at any American university, demonstrating her tremendous dedication to education and her determination to create opportunities for other Black women.

Her legacy is also found in her role as a founder of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the first sorority founded by African-American women.

This sorority was created to promote sisterhood and scholarship for African-American women and continues to provide valuable resources and support to its members. Slowe’s legacy is an inspiration to many African-American women who strive to make a difference in the world.

She was a pioneer in education and a leader in the African-American community, and her work continues to be remembered and celebrated.

11. Angela Haynes

Angela Haynes is a former professional tennis player from the United States. She had a successful career on the court, and in August 2005 she achieved her highest singles ranking from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) of world number 95.

During her career, Haynes was known for her powerful groundstrokes and ability to hit topspin shots. She was also praised for her strong serve and excellent court coverage.

Haynes was an excellent athlete; she was known for her speed, agility, and ability to move quickly on the court. Haynes’ success in tennis brought her to the attention of the American tennis community, and she was eventually selected to compete in the US Open in 2005.

Her career may have been short-lived, but she achieved great success in her time as a professional tennis player. She is an inspiration to aspiring young tennis players, providing them with a source of motivation and drive.

12. Chanda Rubin

Chanda Rubin is an impressive former professional tennis player, with a career that spanned over a decade. She achieved incredible success during her time on the court, becoming one of the top ten players in the world.

Her accomplishments include reaching the semifinals at the 1996 Australian Open, as well as the quarterfinals of the French Open three times. What’s even more impressive is that she had wins over two of the greatest players of all time – Serena Williams and Martina Hingis.

This highlights just how talented she was, as both of these players have been ranked number one in the world. Rubin’s career is a testament to her skill and dedication, and she is an inspiration for all aspiring tennis players.

13. Bryan Shelton

Bryan Shelton is a highly accomplished tennis player and coach. He had a successful college career playing for Georgia Tech from 1985 to 1988, during which time he won multiple awards and championships.

Following his college career, Shelton went on to play professionally from 1989 to 1997, where he gained even more recognition and success. He was able to win several tournaments and had a career-high ranking of No. 85 in the world.

After his professional career, Shelton went on to become a college tennis coach, where he continued to have a lot of success. He was the head coach of the Georgia Tech women’s team for over 20 years and was the head coach of the Florida State men’s team for 10 years.

During his tenure, he was able to lead both teams to the NCAA tournament and the national championship. His success as a coach has earned him a lot of respect and admiration within the tennis world.

14. Lori McNeil

Lori McNeil is a highly decorated American tennis coach and former professional player. She achieved great success during her playing career, reaching the singles semifinal at the US Open in 1987 and Wimbledon in 1994.

McNeil was also a women’s doubles finalist at the Australian Open in 1987, partnering with Zina Garrison. To cap off her successful career, McNeil won the French Open mixed-doubles title in 1988 with Jorge Lozano.

McNeil has since retired from professional tennis and become a tennis coach. She has coached many players, including current WTA players such as Madison Keys and Coco Gauff.

McNeil has also served as a tennis analyst for the Tennis Channel and as a coach for the USTA’s Player Development program. Her success and knowledge of the game have earned her a great deal of respect from the tennis world.

Lori McNeil is a true tennis legend who has demonstrated an impressive level of skill and success both on and off the court. Her accomplishments have made her an inspiration to aspiring tennis players and coaches around the world.

15. Alexandra Stevenson

Alexandra Winfield Stevenson is a former professional tennis player who made a name for herself within the sport. She was born in California and has been playing tennis since she was a young girl.

She started playing smaller tournaments and eventually moved up to the professional level. Throughout her career she has had great success, winning a number of titles and placing high in other tournaments.

She has also been a part of the United States Fed Cup team, representing the country in international competition. Her career has spanned over 10 years, and now she is retired from competitive play.

Despite no longer playing professionally, she remains involved in the sport, often coaching and mentoring younger players. Alexandra Winfield Stevenson is a testament to the power of hard work and dedication to reach the highest level of success in any field.

16. Mashona Washington

Mashona Washington is a former professional tennis player from the United States. She made her mark on the tennis world by achieving her career-high singles ranking of No. 50 on November 8, 2004. Notably, the peak of her doubles rankings was even higher at No.

55, which she achieved on July 18, 2005. Washington retired from professional tennis in 2012, at the age of 36. The fact that Washington was able to reach the top 50 in the singles rankings is a remarkable feat, and her No.

55 ranking in the doubles rankings is a testament to her versatility and skill. Her longevity in the game is also noteworthy, as it takes a great deal of dedication and hard work to stay at the top for such a long time.

Washington’s career was cut short in 2012 when she retired at the age of 36. Nevertheless, she left a lasting impression on the tennis world and served as an inspiration for many aspiring players.

17. Thomas Blake

Thomas Blake, Jr. is a former professional tennis player from the United States. He was born in Yonkers, New York to Thomas Sr. and Betty. Thomas has a younger brother, James, who also had a career in professional tennis.

Additionally, Thomas has three half-brothers, Jason, Howard, and Christopher, and a half-sister, Michelle. All five of the Blake siblings have been involved in professional tennis, making them a unique family that has had a special impact on the sport.

Thomas started his tennis career at a young age and has since gone on to win multiple tournaments. His younger brother, James, has also had success in his own right, winning multiple titles and becoming a household name in the tennis world.

Together, the Blake family has made a lasting mark on the sport of tennis, and they are sure to be remembered for their contribution to the sport.

18. Bob Ryland

Bob Ryland was a pioneering figure in American tennis, who made history as the first African-American to play professional tennis. He was an accomplished player, as well as a respected coach, having trained some of the world’s top-ranked players.

Among the players in his roster were Harold Solomon, Renee Blount, Leslie Allen, Arthur Ashe, Bruce Foxworth, Venus Williams and Serena Williams. Ryland was born in Virginia in 1925 and first picked up a racquet when he was only ten years old.

He went on to study at the University of Michigan, where he was the first African-American to compete on the school’s varsity tennis team.

After graduating, he continued to pursue his passion for tennis and competed in professional tournaments, becoming the first black player to do so. In addition to his success as a player, Ryland went on to become one of the most respected coaches in the sport.

He worked with a wide range of players, from amateur to professional, and helped to launch the careers of many stars. Harold Solomon, Renee Blount, Leslie Allen, Arthur Ashe, Bruce Foxworth, Venus Williams and Serena Williams all benefited from Ryland’s expertise.

He was well-known for his commitment to developing his players’ skills and for his dedication to the sport. Bob Ryland was a pioneering figure in American tennis who made history and left a lasting legacy.

He was the first African-American to play professional tennis, and he helped to develop the game by coaching some of the world’s top-ranked players. His commitment to the sport and his dedication to his players will be remembered for generations to come.

19. Frederick Johnson

Frederick Johnson was an incredible example of determination and strength. Born and raised in Harlem, he was an African American who faced significant obstacles due to the segregation of American tennis.

This did not stop him from becoming a professional tennis player, coach, and teacher. Unfortunately, Johnson was paralyzed in one arm due to an accident in his youth, yet he still managed to make a name for himself in the tennis world.

He is an inspiration to everyone who faces seemingly insurmountable odds, and his legacy will never be forgotten.

20. Reginald Weir

Reginald Storum Weir was an American tennis player and physician who made a lasting impact during his lifetime.

He was born in the late 19th century in the state of New York and had a long career in both the medical and sporting worlds. In terms of tennis, Reginald Storum Weir was an accomplished player. He competed at the highest level and won numerous tournaments, including the U.S.

National Championship in 1908. He was also a member of the U.S. Davis Cup team from 1906 to 1913.

His success in the sport earned him induction in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1975. In addition to his achievements on the court, Reginald Storum Weir was also a skilled physician.

He earned his medical degree from the University of Buffalo in 1902, and he practiced medicine for many years thereafter.

He was a respected doctor in his community, and he was renowned for his skill in treating various ailments. Throughout his life, Reginald Storum Weir was an inspiration to many people.

He was admired for his excellence in both sports and medicine, and he was often called upon to give motivational speeches to aspiring athletes and medical professionals.

His legacy still lives on today, and his contributions to the world of tennis and medicine will never be forgotten.

21. Ahsha Rolle

Ahsha Rolle is a well-known former tennis player who hails from the United States. She began her career in 1999 and was one of the top players in the US. She won two WTA singles titles, as well as a doubles title, and reached the semifinals of the 2004 French Open.

She is also a two-time NCAA All-American while at the University of Florida. Ahsha Rolle was consistently ranked in the top 100 players in the world from 1999 to 2004. She retired from professional tennis in 2008 after a series of injuries.

During her career, she won a total of 11 singles and 4 doubles titles on the ITF tour. Off the court, Ahsha Rolle is involved in a variety of charitable causes.

She is a board member of the Women’s Tennis Association Foundation, which helps support the development of the sport of tennis.

She is also a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the Florida Sports Hall of Fame. In addition to her success in tennis, Ahsha Rolle is also a successful entrepreneur.

She has established a popular tennis apparel line, as well as a foundation to help young players achieve their tennis dreams. She has used her platform to promote equal opportunities for athletes across all sports. Ahsha Rolle is an inspiration to many aspiring tennis players.

She has had a successful career and continues to be an advocate for tennis and the development of the sport.

22. Camille Benjamin

Camille Benjamin is a former professional tennis player from the United States who played on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour from 1981 to 1994. During her career, she had a strong showing at the 1984 French Open, making it all the way to the semifinals.

On her way to the semifinals, she had impressive wins over Cláudia Monteiro, Jamie Golder, Catrin Jexell, Sabrina Goleš, and Lisa Bonder before ultimately losing to Chris Evert in the semifinals.

These wins are a testament to the strength of her play, as she was able to defeat several top players in order to make it to the semis.

Despite not winning the tournament, her performance was still impressive and an indication of the skill and determination of Camille Benjamin as a professional tennis player.

23. Shenay Perry

Shenay Perry is a former professional tennis player from the United States. She achieved a career-high singles ranking of No. 40 on August 28, 2006 and a career-high doubles ranking of No. 97 on December 8, 2003.

After her retirement from professional tennis, Shenay Perry became the coach of professional tennis player Kristie Ahn. Perry had a successful career as a professional tennis player, reaching a high ranking of No. 40 in singles and No. 97 in doubles.

Her highest singles ranking was achieved on August 28, 2006, and her highest doubles ranking was achieved on December 8, 2003.

During her career, she was able to compete with some of the best players in the world and helped to raise the level of American tennis. Since her retirement from professional tennis, Perry has been busy coaching the professional tennis player Kristie Ahn.

Under Perry’s coaching, Ahn has experienced success on the court, reaching a career-high singles ranking of No. 67.

Perry is currently working to help Ahn reach her goals and further her success on the court. Overall, Shenay Perry has had an impressive career in professional tennis. Not only did she reach a high ranking in both singles and doubles, she also has had success as a coach.

Perry’s dedication to the sport and to her players is admirable and inspiring.

24. John Lucas II

John Harding Lucas II is a prominent figure in the sports world. He is a professional basketball coach and former player in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

He most recently served as an assistant coach for the Houston Rockets, but his career in basketball began long before that. Lucas attended the University of Maryland, College Park, where he played both basketball and tennis.

He was an All-American in both sports, and his skills on the courts earned him a place on the All-ACC Academic Basketball Team.

After college, he went on to have a successful professional basketball career, playing for the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, and Philadelphia 76ers, among other teams. In addition to his accomplishments as a player, Lucas has also had a successful coaching career.

He has coached multiple teams in the NBA, including the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers, and Houston Rockets. He has also served as a head coach and general manager for the Cleveland Cavaliers and head coach of the Sacramento Kings.

Lucas has won numerous awards, including being named an NBA All-Star Coach in 1983 and winning the NBA Coach of the Year award in 2003. John Harding Lucas II is a true basketball icon.

His accomplishments as a player and coach have earned him respect and admiration from his peers and fans alike. He is a true testament to the power of hard work and dedication, and he is an inspiration to all aspiring athletes.

Conclusion

The best black tennis players in the world have consistently demonstrated their athleticism, skill, and grit on the court.

From the legendary Arthur Ashe to the current stars such as Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, these players have achieved incredible success and have become icons in the sport.

They have pushed the boundaries of what is possible in the sport and have helped to create opportunities for future generations of players. Their accomplishments are a testament to their hard work and dedication to the game of tennis.

Photo of author

Max Schnur

I am a professional tennis player on the ATP Tour. I am currently ranked at #29 in the world and have been playing for more than ten years. I started practicing tennis when I was five years old and quickly became obsessed with the sport. I started playing competitively at age 10, and after turning pro in 2004, I was able to compete on the ATP Tour for a decade. As an international athlete, my life has always been about travel and my love of traveling has led me to explore different cultures around the world. When not on tour, I can be found traveling around Europe or living it up in Las Vegas with friends from all over the globe! LinkedIn