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Record Seven African-American Women Among U.S. Top 20

February 9, 2006 10:39 AM

Coinciding with Black History Month, the USTA announced today that for the first time a record seven African-American women are among the top 20-ranked U.S. players. Also for the first time, the top seven African-American women rank 175 or better in the world rankings.

“The U.S. is currently experiencing the greatest depth of African-Americans in women’s tennis ever,” said U.S. Fed Cup Captain Zina Garrison, the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in tennis (1988 Seoul, doubles). “The impact Venus and Serena Williams have made is obvious as the future looks bright with a number of talented young African-Americans climbing up the ranks."

According to a recent USTA survey, tennis participation in the U.S. is increasing and one third of new recreational players are either African-American or Hispanic.

“We are beginning to see the impact of many factors - - from USTA programs to star personalities - - that drive diversity in tennis,” said Karlyn Lothery, Chief Diversity Officer, USTA. “We see the impact on the pro game as well as at the recreational level, as one third of all new recreational tennis players come from a multicultural background.”

The list of top African-American women is headed by former world No. 1, reigning Wimbledon champion and current World No. 10 Venus Williams who in 2000 became the first African-American to win the Wimbledon women’s singles title since Althea Gibson in 1958. Serena Williams also a former No. 1 and a 15-time Grand Slam champion, follows her sister at number 37. The Williams sisters are the second and third ranked American women respectively.

Other African-American women ranked in the U.S. Top 20 include, No. 85 Jamea Jackson and No. 99 Mashona Washington. In 2005, Jackson had her best year on the tour, while Washington finished the year in the Top 100 for the second year in a row. The three others are No. 134 Shenay Perry, No. 156 Asha Rolle and No. 166 Angela Haynes. Perry reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2005, while Rolle is presently at a career high ranking and Haynes, in 2005, improved her ranking nearly 100 points cracking the Top 100. Jackson, Perry, Rolle and Haynes are all 21 years old or younger.




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