U.S. Tennis Association Honors Pioneering Black Female Athletes

Black Issues in Higher Education, August 28, 2003 | Go to article overview

U.S. Tennis Association Honors Pioneering Black Female Athletes


TUSKEGEE, ALA.

Long before Venus and Serena Williams became household names, nationally known tennis stars Margaret "Pete" and Maltida Roumania "Repeat" Peters proved that African Americans can dominate the sport.

From the late 1930s into the early '50s, the two sisters were known for their slice serves, fierce backhands and decisive chop shots. Together, the Tuskegee University graduates won a record 14 American Tennis Association (ATA) doubles championships on two streaks from 1938-1941 and 1944-1953, a feat unmatched among women players in the association's history.

Last month, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) honored the Peters sisters with an achievement award during the Federation Cup quarterfinals in their native Washington, D.C. In November, the sisters will be inducted into the USTA's Mid-Atlantic Section Hall of Fame.

Their most recent honors came as a result of admirers' efforts to tell the sisters' untold story. Among those is Camille Riggs Mosley, a tennis enthusiast who is co-writing the history of Black Americans in the sport.

Mosely's Outside the Lines: The History of African Americans in Tennis profiles the Peters sisters, and in the process, abolishes the myth that they and other Black athletic stars--past and present--are statistical aberrations.

"I knew that Venus and Serena were not the first successful Black female tennis players," Mosley says. …

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