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Tennis is unique in the world of sports. It is so technical that even the most gifted athletes need a coach in order to become proficient. This is particularly true in the world of Black tennis, where, in a segregated America, Blacks were not welcomed into the sport; not permitted to play in white tournaments; indeed discouraged from participating in a sport reserved for elite whites. Black  athletes were directed toward the more traditional sports like basketball, baseball and football. Rarely did one find a Black high school tennis coach. Combine all of these impediments and one can see how important Black coaches were to the development of the personal and athletic skills of the individuals featured on this website. In most cases, saving youth from the perils of their environment was more important than their performance on the tennis courts. As a result, the success of these individual coaches is immeasurable. The number of youth that overcame the environmental challenges far exceeds the number that excelled on the tennis court and these youngsters might be the most important accomplishment. Other coaches deserve to be listed on these pages, so please free to send names and bios of deserving coaches. These are some of the most notable Black coaches:




Dr. Robert Walter "Whirlwind" Johnson

Coach of Althea Gibson

Coach of Arthur Ashe

Coach of dozens of ATA National Champions

Inducted into the Int’l Tennis Hall of Fame

Inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame





Sydney "Mr. Tennis" Llewellyn

NYC Taxi-cab driver.

Became a student of tennis and coached dozens of National Champions.

Nicknamed “Mr. Tennis”.

Coached and married Althea Gibson.

Coached Arthur Ashe





Jim Smith

Founding member of the Sportsmen’s Tennis Club in Boston in 1961.

Brought tennis to the lives of literally thousands of greater Boston residents, young and old.

Programs featured academic, health and social skills to improve the lives in minorities

Organized a good-will tour sending Sportsmen’s juniors to the Soviet Union.




Billy Johnson

Bill had a natural instinct as a teacher, and it was here that he excelled and made his mark in life.

He was one of the few truly dedicated individuals that had an impact on so many children, both Black and White.

It was through him that over 100 youngsters were awarded scholarships in tennis.

Billy practiced his craft in the Philadelphia, PA. area.






John Wilkerson


A Houston-based tennis professional who introduced Zina Garrison and Lori McNeil to the sport of tennis.

Groomed Zina Garrison and Lori McNeal to international stardom.

Nationally ranked player himself.

Managing Director of the Zina Garrison Tennis Academy.


William Washington

Coach of his children; Michaela, Malivai, Mashona and Mashiska Washington.

Malivai reached the finals of Wimbledon in 1996.

Civil Rights activist in tennis, charged the USTA with racial bias in the distribution of wild cards






Richard Williams

Father and Coach of Venus and Serena Williams

Introduced tennis to his daughters in Compton, CA.

In 1995, Richard pulled his daughters out of Rick Macci’s academy, and from then on took over all coaching duties at their home.

His daughter Serena won the US Open in 1999, before her eighteenth birthday.

In early 2000, older sister Venus had wrist problems and was out for several months. Despite this, she beat defending champion Lindsay Davenport in the final, to win the 2000 Wimbledon title. Venus was just past her twentieth birthday.

Coached the winningest Black players in tennis history.






Emily Moore

Founder and Director of Alliance Junior Development Program in New York.

Former ATA Board member

President of the NY Tennis Regional Organization.

Through tennis, helped 100’s of youth into college.






Ernie Peterson

Founder & Director/ Head Teaching Professional –The Peterson School of Tennis.

Father and coach of Jewel Peterson – WTA Tour Player and other standout players.

Coach Peterson started his professional tennis teaching career in Boston in 1968, where he worked with Boston Parks and recreation, and later the Franklin Field Tennis Center, one of the first grass roots tennis programs for minority youth in the nation.






Ulysses Grant “Pete” Brown

Coached for more than 40 years in California.

Began teaching tennis as coach of the Fremont H.S. Tennis team in 1960.

Tennis coach for the Los Angeles Trade Technical College.

Under his direction LATTC won its first conference tennis title (its first title in any sport).

Born –2/19/29 – Died –9/14/10.






Coach Robert “Bob” Screen

Coach of the Hampton University Tennis team for more than 40 years.

The winningest coach of all time in Division 1 coaches in the NCAA

The most successful African-American coach in the entire history of collegiate tennis.



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