The American Tennis Association’s Centennial Celebration marks both the organization’s 100 years of dedication to the African-American tennis community and its title as the oldest African-American Sports Association in the country. Born from the joint tenacity of over a dozen African American tennis clubs in response to the barring of African-Americans from becoming members of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association, the ATA has successfully serviced thousands of youth and adults who desire to pursue their passion in tennis in light of discrimination and segregation.
ATA President, Willie Emerson, couldn’t be any happier with ATA’s progress.
“The ATA has had a rich and colorful history and we will be honoring our past while focusing on the strategic plans for the next 100 years for Black Tennis in America,” he includes in his President’s message on the ATA’s home site. “ This is an exciting year and we have many exciting events planned.”
The association plans to continue their work from what will be the ATA Tennis and Education Complex in South Florida. Once built, the complex will consist of offices, a museum, a national training center for youth, and new Hall of Fame. The first of their inductees to the Hall of Fame is Richard Williams, father and coach of the legendary tennis sisters– Venus and Serena Williams.
Williams will be recognized for his success as a coach to his Compton-born daughters, who have received numerous accolades for their successes in the Summer Olympics and Grand Slam tournaments. For about 20 years, the sisters have steadily been credited as top-of-the-line tennis players, with Serena leading as number one. When paired together in double tournaments, the two are practically undefeatable and have won 22 out of 23 titles. Thanks to Richard Williams’ mix of coaching and fatherly advice, the sisters have won over the world with their skills, drive, and dedication to tennis. Williams will be recognized during the ATA’s Centennial Celebration in a tribute presented at the 2017 Honors Gala on August 2nd.
“This year we recognize ATA’s value as a historic organization, and there’s no better way of doing that than to honor a man whose legacy is built upon the propitious parenting and coaching of his two daughters, both of whom have blossomed into top-tier doyens. These successful women have traveled beyond the stars thanks to their instilled determination and training while breaking plenty of barriers along the way. It is for the significance of Richard Williams in Venus and Serena’s athletic prowess and intellectual know-how that we would like to honor him as our first Hall of Famer,” says ATA Education Foundation President and former President of the ATA, Dr. Franklyn Scott.