New book explores six decades of prejudice and triumph on the courts
"Before and after Althea Gibson leaped the color bar, blacks were playing tennis-enthusiastically but largely unrecognized. Harris and Kyle-DeBose have done the game a service, deeply exploring the history of the triumphs, pains, and pitfalls of the black experience." - Bud Collins, Boston Globe/NBC
Contact: Edrea Davis, Larryette Kyle-DeBose, 770-469-1595
MEDIA ADVISORY, July 17 /Standard Newswire/ -- Exactly 50 years after Althea Gibson broke the color barrier in tennis as the first black woman to win Wimbledon, Venus Williams paid tribute to the anniversary in another historic moment. Last week the elder Williams sister won the Wimbledon championship for the fourth time, firmly positioning her among the game's all-time greats. Despite major accomplishments in a sport once considered "for whites only," blacks still struggle for recognition in tennis.
A newly released book, "Charging The Net: A History of Blacks in Tennis from Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe to the Williams Sisters", explores the ongoing journey for black tennis players to force open the sport's shuttered gates and demand to be acknowledged.
In Charging The Net, authors Larryette Kyle-DeBose and Cecil Harris draw on personal interviews and extensive archival research as they chronicle the extraordinary triumphs and debilitating humiliations experienced by blacks in professional tennis, from the 1940s to the present.
"Blacks at the highest level in tennis struggle for recognition and respect," says Kyle-DeBose, a player-captain in the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association and author of The African-American Guide to Real Estate Investing.. DeBose adds, "That reality has always been part of the challenge."
"For many fans and writers, Gibson, the Williams sisters, and Arthur Ashe personify black achievement in tennis, but a host of others have excelled in the sport," said Harris, who has covered sports for Newsday, the New York Post, the Sporting News, and USA Today.
Packed with historic information, Charging the Net spotlights a wide range of competitors including many who were denied a chance to compete against the game's elite due to racial prejudice. The authors celebrate the accomplishments of the American Tennis Association, an organization that has thrived despite racial segregation, thanks to such benefactors as Dr. R. Walter Johnson. The book also introduces readers to two black officials whose success was short-lived; both have sued the United States Tennis Association, alleging discrimination based on race, gender, and age.
Harlem-trained, Harvard-educated James Blake, who overcame career-threatening injuries to achieve World Top Ten status, wrote the foreword to Charging the Net.
DeBose, a Georgia real estate investor, adds, "Gibson grew up less than an hour from the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where the US Open takes place. She won the singles tournament twice and the mixed doubles event once. She was number one in the world but her name is conspicuously missing from the venue. That tells us we've come a long way, but the journey is not over."
Charging The Net, published by Ivan R. Dee, is available in bookstores nationwide. For more information, or to get a signed copy of the book visit found here.