The International Tennis Hall of Fame has launched its newest digital exhibit, Breaking Boundaries in Black Tennis, which highlights the breakthroughs, evolution and impact of Black tennis players and influential contributors to the sport globally.
The initial launch of Breaking Boundaries features 70 individuals representing 19 nations and will continue to expand with many more inspiring stories to be added on an ongoing basis. Fans are also encouraged to submit their own suggestions of athletes and contributors for inclusion through a form included in the exhibit.
Visitors to the exhibit can browse athletes’ and contributors’ profiles by navigating an interactive map grouped by region. Breaking Boundaries features biographical information and interactive profiles that highlight the on-court achievements and the lasting impact of players’ successes on the sport of tennis.
“Because of what so many of these inspiring people accomplished on and off the court, I have had the opportunity to walk in their footsteps and accomplish all that I have because of their courage,” said Katrina Adams, chair of the ITHF’s Black tennis history committee and past Chairman & President of the USTA. “I am truly grateful for the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s commitment to preserving this history, celebrating their success and inspiring the next generation of Black players.”
Breaking Boundaries is the latest step in the ITHF’s ongoing initiative to educate and shine a spotlight on Black tennis history. In 2021, the ITHF introduced the digital exhibit Breaking the Barriers: The ATA and Black Tennis Pioneers to showcase the history of Black tennis in the United States. The new exhibit serves as a global extension on that concept, highlighting several of the pioneers included in Breaking the Barriers and drawing direct lines to the accomplishments of future generations.
The exhibit was piloted by the extensive research and contributions of the ITHF’s Black History Committee, which includes scholars, former players and global tennis experts Roxanne Aaron, Katrina Adams, Leslie Allen, Lakshman Charanjiva, Bob Davis, Matt Leipzig, Ismail El Shafei, Sara Fornaciari, Nicolas Pereira, Andrea Rice, Chanda Rubin, Ken Shropshire, Damion Thomas, Jon Vegosen and MaliVai Washington.
“It has been a pure labor of love, bringing light to the importance of Black Tennis History on a global front,” Adams said. “I am grateful for the committee’s passion and vision in bringing this to life.”
In addition to Hall of Fame legends like Arthur Ashe, Althea Gibson and Dr. Robert Johnson, trailblazers who smashed barriers to Black participation in tennis are also showcased in Breaking Boundaries such as African greats Tony Mmoh and Nduka Odizor of Nigeria, ATP Tour player Jo-Wilfred Tsonga of France, who has been ranked in the world Top 5, current WTA Top 100 player Heather Watson of the United Kingdom and the first South American to officiate a Grand Slam, Carlos Bernardes of Brazil.
These trailblazers’ profiles sit in the exhibit alongside the present-day stars that followed directly in their footsteps, including today’s superstars Venus and Serena Williams of the United States, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, Gael Monfils of France and Naomi Osaka of Japan. Also featured are the inspiring stories of World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and Hall of Famer Evonne Goolagong, who hail from a background of Indigenous Australian heritage.
Breaking Boundaries in Black Tennis is available now to view online at breakingboundaries.tennisfame.com.