BTHOF 2009 Inductees

  • Ora Washington: Many people consider Ora Washington the greatest woman athlete of all time and speculate that if she played when tennis was integrated she would have been the best woman’s tennis player in the world. Washington was born on January 16, 1899 and grew up in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. In 1924, she was encouraged by a local coach to take up tennis to help her deal with the grief she was feeling because of the death of one of her sisters. She clearly had a gift for playing tennis and started winning matches soon after she began playing the sport.Washington played tennis competitively for 12 extraordinary years in the ATA and became a champion just five years after she first picked up a racquet. She won the ATA Women’s Singles Championship in 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935 and 1937. The legendary Althea Gibson is the only person to win more ATA Women’s Singles titles. In addition to her singles championships, Washington won the 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939 and 1940 ATA Women’s Doubles Championships (most of these titles were won with her frequent singles rival Lulu Ballard). She also won one ATA Mixed Doubles Championship.Washington’s athletic success was not limited to the tennis court. She initially played basketball with a Philadelphia team named the Germantown Hornets. In 1930, this team had a 22-1 record and won the national women’s basketball team title. In 1931, Washington was the star player on a Hornet team that won 33 consecutive victories. She then played with the Philadelphia Tribune basketball team from 1932-1942 and became one of the most versatile and successful players in basketball history serving as the coach, center and leading scorer. This incredible team won 11 Women’s Colored Basketball World Championships in a row. Her success on the tennis court led many to believe that she was the best women’s tennis player in the world while her prowess on the basketball court led many to consider Washington to be the best women’s basketball player in the world.Arthur Ashe wrote in “A Hard Road to Glory” that Washington “may have been the best female athlete ever.”  She was so gifted she could practice while she played. Washington once said, “I don’t believe in long warm-ups. I’d rather play from scratch and warm up as I went along.”  Between 1927 and 1933, Helen Wills Moody (1959 ITHF Inductee) won an incredible 180 straight matches without losing a set. During that winning streak, when Black players were not allowed to compete in major tournaments, she won an incredible 14 Grand Slam Singles Championships. However, in spite of her extraordinary success in “White Only” tournaments she refused to play Ora Washington. Her refusal to play Washington made Don Budge’s willingness to play Jimmie McDaniel (see Jimmie McDaniel biography) all the more impressive.Washington’s success on the tennis court convinced members of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration to build hundreds of public tennis courts in urban neighborhoods across the United States to introduce tennis to the black community. Tragically, she never received the international recognition she deserved and, while working as a housekeeper, coached young people on the public tennis courts in Germantown, Pa., where she began playing tennis.  In addition to being inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009 Washington was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.



  • Jimmy McDaniel: In 1940, McDaniel was part of a tennis match that is considered by many to be one of the most significant sporting events in history. The importance to racial progress of Kenny Washington breaking the National Football Leagues (NFL) color barrier in 1946 and Jackie Robinson breaking the Major League Baseball (MLB) color barrier in 1948 is recognized throughout the world. However, few people know about the historic 1940 tennis match in New York City between the undisputed white world champion of tennis Don Budge and the undisputed black champion of tennis Jimmie McDaniel.A lot has been written about Kenny Washington of the Los Angeles Rams becoming the first African American to sign a contract with an NFL team in the post-World War II era (on March 21, 1946) and Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers who became the first African American to play a MLB game (on April 15, 1947). Yet, little attention has been paid to another important date in sports history that preceded both of those seminal events. The date was July 29, 1940 and the event was a match between the ATA champion Jimmie McDaniel and the first man to win all four of the world’s most important tennis championships in the same year, Don Budge. Incredibly, in 1938 Budge, became the first man to win tennis’ “Grand Slam” (the Australian, French, Wimbledon and US Men’s Singles Championships) in the same year. McDaniel won the ATA National Championships in 1939, however, because he was black, he was not allowed to play in the same international championships as Don Budge.On this historic date in 1940, the black champion James (Jimmy) McDaniel and the white champion John Donald (Don) Budge squared off in front of 2,000 spectators at Harlem’s Cosmopolitan Tennis Club.  The match was sponsored by Wilson Sporting Goods, which had a sponsorship contract with Budge. The timing of the match was perfect because Budge was in the middle of a five-year run as the world’s number one-ranked tennis player and McDaniel was virtually unbeatable in the ATA circuit.As the best white tennis player in the world during a period of intense segregation, Budge deserves tremendous credit for agreeing to play this match. He had nothing to win and everything to lose. Tennis was a sport that was controlled on and off of the court by the wealthiest people in the world. The sport was rampant with discrimination by both race and class. If Don Budge, who dominated a rich white sport, were to lose to Jimmie McDaniel than a monumental barrier of both race and class would have been shattered. It was inconceivable to think at the time that a poor black kid could beat the best white player in a rich white sport. Budge’s willingness to play McDaniel was one of the most courageous feats in sports history.McDaniel’s success on the ATA circuit made him the greatest black tennis player of the pre-World War II era.  He won the 1939, 1940, 1941 and 1946 ATA Men’s Singles and Doubles Championships. Between 1939 and 1941 McDaniel won thirty-eight of the forty-three ATA tournaments he entered. However, Budge’s international playing experience (and comfort playing on clay tennis courts) gave him a significant advantage and he won the match by a score of 6-1, 6-2. Al Laney, the well-known tennis columnist for the New York Herald Tribune (and 1979 ITHF Inductee) wrote that it was likely that McDaniel “could hold his own against the current crop of white players if he were able to play a few tournaments in which they competed.”[1] It is rumored that Budge stated “Jimmie is a very good player, I’d say he’d rank with the first 10 of our white players.” Neither the victory nor the score was as important as the historic reality that this seminal match broke through important barriers of race and class.[1] Al Laney “2,000 Negroes,” New York Herald Tribune, July 30, 1940.



  • George Stewart: Born in Panama in 1923, Stewart was the first Black man to play in five US National Championship tournaments. Stewart and Dr. Reginald Weir became the first Black men to play at the U.S. National Championships in 1952. Even though they both lost in the first round, tennis history was made by their appearance in the tournament. In 1957, Stewart won his first round match at the US Championships beating Hal Treveen of the US 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. However, he lost in the round of 64 to Donald Thompson of the US 5-7, 3-6, 4-6.Stewart was one of the best Black tennis players in history. He won the ATA Men’s Singles Championship in 1947, 1948, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1957 and 1964. In addition, Stewart won the ATA Men’s Doubles Championship in 1948, 1949, 1951, 1956 (with Dr. Hubert Eaton) and 1957 (with John Chandler).


  • Reginald Weir:  In 1948, thirty seven year old New York City resident Dr. Reginald Weir submitted an entry to participate in the USLTA National Indoor Championship held at the 7th Regiment Armory in New York City. Black players were not allowed to play in USLTA tournaments. However, tournament officials never thought that a doctor would be Black so they accepted Dr. Reginald Weir’s entry without question. They were surprised when Dr. Weir arrived at the tournament. However, it was too late for them to deny his entry into the tournament. Much to their disappointment he won his first round match. Weir therefore made history by becoming the first African American to play in a USLTA National Championship.He lost in the second round to Bill Talbert (1967 ITHF Inductee). New York tennis historian Nancy McShea wrote in Weir’s Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame biography that “after the match Talbert said to future Wimbledon Champion Dick Savitt (1976 ITHF Inductee) ‘What a class act he is; it’s too bad he didn’t get a chance to play more (national) tournaments in his prime. He’s very quick and a very good volleyer.’” Weir had tried to play in a USLTA national tournament several times starting in 1929 when he was refused entry into the national junior indoors that were held at the 7th Regiment Armory. In his book, A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African American Athlete, Arthur Ashe wrote that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) protested the USLTA’s denial of Weir’s tournament entry in 1929 because he was Black and received the following reply from the USLTA: “…the policy of the USLTA has been to decline the entry of colored players in our championships…In pursuing this policy, we make no reflection upon race but we believe that as a practical matter, the present method of separate associations (USLTA and American Tennis Association) should be continued.”Even though it was late in his tennis playing career, Weir took Pancho Gonzalez (1968 ITHF Inductee) to three sets in a later tournament. Weir was also an incredible person off of the court. He was an extraordinary physician who, in 1935, became one of the first Black medical school graduates of New York University Medical School. In just four years, Weir became an assistant in surgery at NYU Medical Center and in 1941 started a private practice and served as one of the first African American surgeon’s in Governor’s Hospital on the Lower East Side.

    In 1952, Weir and George Stewart became the first Black men to play in the U.S. National Championships. Even though they both lost in the first round, tennis history was made by their appearance in the tournament. Weir was considered the best black tennis player in the world in the 1930s because he won the 1931, 1932, 1933, 1937 and 1942 ATA Men’s Singles Championship.

    Prior to these victories he was a star player on the integrated City College tennis team in New York. Weir was inducted into the Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999. In addition, he won several national USTA age group titles and was recognized numerous times by the USTA for his contributions to tennis.


Robert Ryland: In 1959, Ryland broke through barriers of race and class by becoming the first African American to become a tennis professional. His success in both ATA and integrated amateur tournaments around the country made him one of the best known black players in the US. His fame led sports promoter Jack Marsh to ask Ryland to make history by joining his professional tennis circuit which included legendary tennis players Pancho Gonzalez (who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) in 1968), Lew Hoad (ITHF Inductee in 1990) and other top pro players. Ryland accepted and another barrier of race and class was broken when he played his first pro match in Cleveland in 1959.   HRyland started playing tennis at age nine. He was taught by his father and the iconic Mrs. C.O. “Mother” Seames (one of the first nationally known black tennis coaches) of the Chicago Prairie Tennis Club in Chicago, Illinois. Ryland had a talent for the sport and quickly rose to stardom by winning the Illinois State High School Championship in 1939, beating Jimmy Evert (Chris Evert’s father) on the way to the title. In addition, in 1939, he won the ATA Boys 18 and under Singles Championship. In 1944, he played in a historic exhibition tennis match at the Cosmopolitan Club with legendary player Alice Marble (1964 ITHF Inductee) against Dr. Reginald Weir and Mary Hardwick. Ryland and Marble won the match 10-8. In 1946, he won the Men’s Singles Championship in the Detroit Public Parks integrated tournament. In 1947, he lost to the number one ranked U.S player Ham Richardson 4-6, 5-7 in the Pacific Southwest Championship. In 1952, he won the integrated Los Angeles Industrial City Championships. In 1955 and 1956 he won the ATA Men’s Singles Championship in addition to being a finalist four other times.

Playing for Wayne State University, Ryland was the first black man to play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament, advancing to the quarterfinals in 1946. Ryland was so admired in the black tennis community that a 14 year old Arthur Ashe said his only dream was “to be good enough to beat Bob Ryland.” In 1955, Ryland received a nomination by the ATA to play in the USLTA Nationals at Forest Hills. At the age of 35, with no experience on grass, he lost in straight sets in the first round. Clearly, Ryland might have done well in the US Nationals if he had been allowed to play it in the prime of his tennis career. In the 1960’s, he worked briefly at the St. Albans Tennis Club in Washington, DC where he gave tennis lessons to some of Washington’s elite. He later coached Venus and Serena Williams when they were juniors and touring pros Harold Solomon and Leslie Allen. In addition, he taught tennis to many celebrities including Bill Cosby, Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Streisand and Tony Bennett.


Wilbert “Billy” Davis: Born on January 6, 1930, Davis was the winner of 11 National Tennis Titles over a period of 33 years. He won the Boys 16 ATA National Singles and Doubles Championship in 1945; the Boy’s 18 ATA National Championship in 1948; the Men’s ATA National Singles Championship in 1958, 1959, 1963, 1966 and 1967; the Men’s ATA National Doubles Championship in 1954 and 1962; and, the Men’s ATA 45 Singles National Championship in 1978.  Davis played for and graduated from Tennessee A&I. In addition to being one of the best black players in the country for many years, Davis was a mentor to Arthur Ashe and one of the most influential black tennis leaders in the country. In addition to winning the ATA National Men’s Double’s titles together in 1962, Billy and his brother Bob (who was inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014) played an important role in influencing future players and growing the sport in the black community.

Wilbert (Billy) Davis

Wilbert (Billy) Davis


Bonnie Logan  : In the 1970s, the Virginia Slims tennis tournaments comprised the vast majority of high profile events on the women’s professional tennis tour. In 1971, Logan, a Durham, N.C. native, made history by becoming the first African-American woman to play in a Virginia Slims Tournament. She became a legend in the black tennis community because of her dominance of the American Tennis Association (ATA) National Championships during the 1960s. From 1964 to 1970, Logan captured seven-consecutive ATA women’s singles titles. In addition, in 1968, Logan captured the Eastern Carolina Closed Championship in both singles and doubles. Two years later she accomplished the same feat at the North Carolina State Closed Championship.


Logan was a talented junior player who won the Maryland Girl’s 14 and Under Championship, the Girl’s 16 and Under Championship and the Girl’s 18 and Under Championship in consecutive years.  Her emergence into the tennis world as a star came as no surprise because she spent much of her early playing career taking on men and older more experienced players. As a student-athlete at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Logan, was so much better than the players on the women’s tennis team that she petitioned to join the men’s team — and won. She went on to play #2 for the men and won her flight in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tennis Championships. She spent her last two years of college focused on playing against women and later competed in the NCAA Championships. Logan finished her college career lettering in five sports and, in 1983, she was inducted into the MSU Varsity M Athletic Hall of Fame.


Logan is a tennis playing legend because of her victories in the 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969 and 1970 ATA Women’s Singles Championships. Only Althea Gibson (10) and Ora Washington (8) have won more ATA National Women’s Singles Championships than Logan. In addition to her singles titles, Logan won one ATA Women’s Doubles title and four ATA National Mixed Doubles titles.



Zina Lynn Garrison: In 1990, Garrison reached the Wimbledon Women’s Singles Final and became the second black woman (2008 Inductee Althea Gibson was the first) to reach a Grand Slam Final. She was also the first African American to serve as captain of the U.S. Federation Cup Team (2004) and the Women’s US Olympic Team (Bejing 2008). It was clear from her early tennis success in life that she would become one of the most talented black players in history. She was an extraordinarily successful junior player. In 1977, at the age of 14, Garrison won the USTA Girls 18 National Championship. In 1981, she won the US Open and Wimbledon Junior Championships and became the number 1 junior player in the world.


Malivai Washington: In 1996, at the Wimbledon Championships, Washington became the second African American (BTHF 2008 and ITHF 1985 Inductee Arthur Ashe was the first) to reach a Grand Slam Final. He was an All-American tennis player at the University of Michigan before turning pro in his junior year of college. Washington became an extremely successful professional player who reached a career high of number 11 in the world and had wins over many tennis legends including: Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Jimmy Connors, Michael Chang, Stefan Edberg, Gustavo Kuertan, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe.He has become as successful in his retirement as he was on the tennis court. He is the founder and driving force behind one of the most effective community tennis programs in the country, the Malavai Washington Kids Foundation in Jacksonville, Florida. In 2005 and 2008, the foundation was named the United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Junior Tennis League (NJTL) Chapter of the Year for its outstanding work “developing champions in classrooms, on tennis courts and throughout communities.” In 2009, Washington received the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year Award during the ATP World Tour Awards. In addition, in 1997, Washington received the Boys and Girls Clubs of America CARE Award and, in 1998, he was honored with the Arthur Ashe Athletic Association Leadership Award.






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