Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Female Tennis and Basketball Players Through History
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports Writer
Published February 23, 2020


Lucy Diggs Slowe


Educator Lucy Diggs Slowe entered the 1917 American Tennis Association (ATA) Tournament and won the championship title, becoming the first African American women to win a major tennis title. Slowe is also one of the founding members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. In 1922, she became the nation’s first African American female Dean of Women at a university when Howard hired her for the position.

Ora Washington

Dual sport athlete Ora Washington was the first African American athlete to dominate two sports. After spending around one year practicing tennis, she won eight consecutive singles championships and 12 doubles titles in the ATA tournament. Washington played basketball for the Germantown Hornets girls basketball team and she led them to a national title victory in 1930.

Serena Williams

United States’ Serena Williams returns a shot against Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova during a Fed Cup qualifying tennis match Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, in Everett, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Compton native Serena Williams has 23 major singles titles and 39 Grand Slam titles. She has been ranked at no.1 WTA on eight different occasions. There was a time when Serena was ranked at no. 1 for 186 consecutive weeks. She won one Olympic gold medal in women’s singles and three in women’s doubles with her sister, Venus.

Venus Williams

Venus Williams, of the United States, returns a shot to Elina Svitolina, of Ukraine, during the second round of the US Open tennis championships Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Michael Owens)

Tennis legend Venus Williams has a total of 49 singles titles, including seven Grand Slam titles. In 2002 she was the first African American woman to earn the no. 1 rank in the Open Era. Venus has one gold medal in women’s singles, one silver medal in mixed doubles and three in women’s doubles with her sister, Serena.


Sloane Stephens

United States’ Sloane Stephens makes a backhand return to China’s Zhang Shuai during their first round singles match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Florida native Sloane Stephens made the 2016 U.S. Olympic National Team. She currently has six singles titles, including her 2017 U.S. Open win. In 2018, Stephens reached the French Open Final and ended her season at no. 6 in WTA ranking.


Lisa Leslie

Western Conference All-Star Lisa Leslie, of the Los Angeles Sparks, holds up her Most Valuable Player trophy after her team’s 79-61 victory over the East in the inaugural WNBA All-Star game at New York’s Madison Square Garden Wednesday, July 14, 1999. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

This Morningside High school alum was a multi sport athlete, playing basketball, volleyball and running track for the Monarchs. She played for the USC Women of Troy basketball team where she is the all time leading shot blocker. Leslie played for the L.A. Sparks, helping them win two championships. Leslie is also a four-time gold medalist and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.

Sheryl Swoopes

Tulsa Shock guard Sheryl Swoopes, right, drives around Atlanta Dream forward Angel McCoughtry during the fourth quarter of a WNBA basketball game, Tuesday, July 26, 2011, in Tulsa, Okla. Atlanta won 76-68. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

In 1993, Sheryl Swoopes won the Naismith College Player of the Year for her efforts with the University of Texas Women’s Basketball team. She went to the WNBA and played for the Houston Comets, helping the team win the first four championships of the league. Swoopes is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time WNBA MVP. She was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

Chamique Holdsclaw

Washington Mystics’ Chamique Holdsclaw reaches out for the rebound against the Charlotte Sting during the second half of the Mystics’ 68-54 win, Thursday, July 15, 2004, in Washington. Holdsclaw led the Mystics with 19 points. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

The New York native Chamique Holdsclaw helped the University of Tennesse win three consecutive national championship titles. She was the first overall pick of the 1999 WNBA Draft, the Washington Mystics acquired her. Holdsclaw is the first top draft pick in the WNBA to win Rookie of the Year. A member of the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team in 2000, Holdsclaw played for the L.A. Sparks, Atlanta Dream, and the San Antonio Stars

Dawn Staley

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley in action during an NCAA college basketball game against Temple, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

As a basketball player, Dawn Staley aided the University of Virginia to a national title. Her no. 24 jersey was retired at the University. She played for the Charlotte Sting and battled the L.A. Sparks in the 2001 WNBA Finals. She is a three-time Olympic gold medalist who became coach of the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team in 2008 and led them to a national title in 2017. The program recently defeated UCONN for the first time in history.

Tamika Catchings

Indiana Fever player Tamika Catchings, left, passes the ball to teammate Tully Bevilaqua during their game against the Chicago Sky at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, July 12, 2008. The Fever won the game 66-57. (AP Photo/The Star, Heather Charles)

Tamika Catchings was a member of the Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team who went undefeated and won a national title during the 1997-98 season. In 2001, she was drafted to the Indiana Fever and played there for her entire career. Catchings became a five-time Defensive Player of the Year and was a key part in the Fever winning a championship in 2012. She also played basketball in Korea, Poland and Turkey. Catchings is the general manager of the Fever.

Categories: Basketball | History (Sports) | News (Sports) | Sports
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