Black Tennis History Timeline 1901-1930

 1874-1900  |
 1901-1930  |
 1931-1960  |
 1961-1975  |
 1976-2020  |

President McKinley assassinated. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt succeeds him as president. He eventually forms a “tennis Cabinet” of senior leaders in his administration who play tennis together on a weekly basis.
Booker T. Washington was the first black American to dine at the White House.
George H. White leaves office – no African American will serve in Congress for the next 28 years.
Lynchings – 105

Jockey Jimmy Winkfield wins the Kentucky Derby in an era when African American jockeys dominated the sport.
Lynchings – 85

W.E.B. DuBois publishes The Souls of Black Folk, in which he rejects the gradualism of Booker T. Washington, calling on agitation on behalf of African American rights.
Lynchings – 84

Bethune – Cookman College founded.
Lynchings – 76

The Chicago Defender, the first major black newspaper, is founded by Robert Abbot.
Lynchings – 56

Race riot in Atlanta results in 10 deaths – 8 blacks and 2 whites.
Lynchings – 62

Mrs. C.O. “Mother” Seames of Chicago gave tennis lessons to young blacks. At the relatively late age of 35, she was taught the game by A.L. Turner, father of University of Illinois tennis star Douglas Turner.

Madame CJ Walker of Denver develops and markets her hair straightening method and creates one of the most successful cosmetics firms in the nation.
Lynchings – 58

John Baxter “Doc” Taylor from the University of Pennsylvania becomes the 1st African American to win an Olympic Gold Medal.

Jack Johnson is 1st African American to be crowned Heavyweight Champion of the World.
William Howard Taft elected president.
Lynchings – 89

The NAACP is formed to promote the use of the judicial system to restore the legal rights of black Americans.

African American Mathew Henson and Admiral Robert E. Peary become the first known men to have reached the North Pole.
Lynchings – 69
In inter-state play, the Crescent Club of Washington DC battled the Monumental Club of Baltimore.

The first faculty tennis club at Tuskegee Institute was formed by E. Davidson Washington, Booker T. Washington’s son, and C.G. Kelly.

The first issue of Crisis, a publication of the NAACP, debuts with W.E.B. DuBois as editor.
Lynchings – 67

Edgar Brown popularized the top spin and baseline game, thereby signaling the end of the prevailing “chop and net game”.
By 1910, the black press was reporting on black tennis club activities.

The National Urban League is formed to help African Americans secure equal employment.
Lynchings – 60

Woodrow Wilson elected president.
Lynchings – 61

Believing that “athletic competition and good sportsmanship are prerequisites for building good personalities and character”, Mrs. Maude Lawrence, Madelyn Baptist McCall, Ruth Shockey and Mrs. C.O. “Mother” Seames formed the Chicago Prairie Tennis Club.

Harriet Tubman – former slave and abolitionist – died. Federal segregation of work places, rest rooms and lunch rooms began.

The Wilson Administration begins federal segregation of work places, rest rooms and lunch rooms.

The West Side Tennis Club moves for the final time to Forest Hills, Queens, New York.
Lynchings – 51

1914 :
World War I began in Europe.
Lynchings – 51

The Great Migration of African Americans from the South to northern cities begins.
Booker T. Washington, renowned African American spokesman, died.
Lynchings – 56
Founding of the Colonial Tennis Club, later more famously known as the Cosmopolitan Club in Harlem.

The US Nationals are held for the first time at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, Queens, New York.

Gas mask invented by African American Garrett Morgan is used to rescue 32 men trapped in a tunnel 250 feet beneath Lake Erie.
Lynchings – 51

Members of the Association Tennis Club in Washington, DC and the Monumental Tennis Club of Baltimore conceived the idea of a national tennis organization of African Americans.

Meeting on Thanksgiving Day, 1916 at the YMCA in Washington, DC, members from the major black tennis clubs founded the American Tennis Association, the oldest continually active African American sports organization. H. Stanton McCard was elected the first president.

Western Federation of Tennis Clubs founded in Los Angeles.

The gas mask invented by African American Garrett Morgan is used to rescue 32 men trapped in a tunnel 250 feet beneath Lake Erie.

The United States enters World War I.
The NAACP organizes a march down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue protesting lynchings, race riots, and the denial of rights.

Lucy Diggs Slowe wins the first ATA Women’s Singles tournament becoming he first female African American national champion in any sport.
Lynchings – 36
First ATA National Championships were held at Druid Hill Park, Baltimore. Tally Holmes and Lucy Diggs Slowe were the first Singles Champions. Holmes and Sylvester Smith captured the Doubles title.

New York Tennis Association of the ATA was founded.

The United States enters World War I.

Race riots in East St. Louis start when 470 African American workers are hired to replace striking white workers. The riots lead to the death of over 200 people (some of whom were lynched).

World War I ends.
Race riots in Pennsylvania claim 9 lives – 6 blacks and 3 whites
Lynchings – 64
2nd National ATA Tournament was held at the Ideal Tennis Club of Harlem, New York.
Jamaican May Rae won the ATA National Women’s Singles Championship and Tally Holmes won the Men’s Singles. Percy Richardson and D. Monroe captured the Men’s Doubles.

The Ku Klux Klan is revived at Stone Mountain, Georgia and operates in 27 states.
“Red Summer” with race riots in 26 locations.
Lynchings – 76

3rd ATA National Tournament held again at the Ideal Tennis Club of Harlem. Sylvester Smith of Washington, DC beat two-time national champion Tally Holmes. May Rae retained her Women’s Singles title. Tally Holmes and Ted Thompson won the Men’s Doubles.

19th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified giving all women the right to vote. Nonetheless, African American women, like African American men, are denied the franchise in most southern states.
The Harlem Renaissance – the 1920s  were a remarkable period of creativity for black writers, poets and artists.
Andrew “Rube” Foster leads the effort to establish the Negro National (Baseball) League.
Warren Harding elected 29th president of the United States.
Lynchings – 53

4th ATA Nationals was held for 3rd year in a row at the Ideal Tennis Club. Jamaicans May Rae and B.M. Clark won the ATA National Women’s and Men’s Singles Championships. Clark and Eugene Kinckle Jones won the Men’s Doubles.

“Mother” Seames and her husband purchased property on the South Side of Chicago and built 4 tennis courts—the first private grounds for a black tennis club in the United States.

Bessie Coleman, the first black female pilot, becomes the first woman to receive an international pilot’s license.
Lynchings – 59


Bessie Coleman, the first black female pilot, becomes the first woman to receive an international pilot’s license.

5th ATA Nationals held at Suburban Gardens Tennis Courts in Washington, DC. Tally Holmes won his 3rd National ATA Championship. Lucy Diggs Slowe of Baltimore won the Women’s Singles. Ted Thompson and Tally Holmes regained their Men’s Doubles title.

Dwight Davis, the donor of the Davis Cup, served as an umpire at ATA national semi-finals.

A group of African-American businessmen, known as the Progressive Realty Group, purchased and opened the Shady Rest Golf and Tennis Club in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.  It was the first Black-owned and operated Country Club in the United States.

A federal anti-lynching bill was killed by filibuster in the United States Senate.
Lynchings – 51

6th ATA Nationals held at Germantown Tennis Club and at the YWCA in Philadelphia. Edgar Brown of Indianapolis and Isadore Channels from Chicago won the Singles Championships. Tally Holmes and Ted Thompson won the Men’s Doubles.

The Springfield Tennis Club of Springfield, Massachusetts founded.

New Jersey Tennis Association of the ATA was formed.

President Harding dies. Vice President Calvin Coolidge succeeds him as 30th president.
Cotton Club opens in Harlem.
Lynchings – 29

7th ATA Nationals held at Prairie View Tennis Courts in Chicago. Edgar Brown defeated New Yorker Eyre Saitch 6-3, 6-2, 11-9. Isadore Channels faced Lottie Wade in the finals and was again victorious. McGriff and Downing won the Men’s Doubles.

Earliest integrated tournament sanctioned by the USLTA. Dwight Davis served as umpire for this Flushing, Queens Tournament held at Kissena Park. Players included E. Kinckle Jones and Gerald Norman.

Opera star Roland Hayes becomes the first African American to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Lynchings – 16

8th ATA Nationals returned to Druid Hill Park in Baltimore. Tally Holmes won his 4th National Championship and Isadore Channels her 3rd. In the Men’s Doubles, Tally Holmes and Ted Thompson defeated Saitch and Smith. In the Women’ Doubles, Emma Leonard and Channels of Chicago defeated Radcliff and Seames of Chicago. In the Mixed Doubles, Dr. Rhetta and Miss Nellie Nicholson of Baltimore defeated Channels and Hudlin of Chicago. Junior Singles was won by Russell Smith of Chicago.

Civil Rights activist Malcolm X is born.
National Bar Association – organization of black attorneys is established.
Lynchings – 17

9th ATA Nationals held at the Manual Training and Industrial School of the State of New Jersey in Bordentown. The first time the event was held at a black school. Increased facilities and accommodations forever changed the character of the event, allowing it to become a preeminent social event as well as an athletic competition.  Ted Thompson, a Junior at Wilberforce College in Ohio, beat Eyre Saitch for the Men’s Singles title. 17 year old Lulu Ballard of Philadelphia defeated Isadore Channels for the Women’s Singles Championship. Holmes and Thompson won the Men’s Doubles, Lulu Ballard and Ora Washington won the Women’s Doubles, and Mrs. C.O. Seames of Chicago and Dr. L.C. Downing of Roanoke, Virginia won the Mixed Doubles. The Junior title went to Lenoir Cook of Washington.

Beginning of a shift away from private clubs and public parks to black colleges as the site for ATA National Championships. Many of these colleges were part of the Colored (later Central) Inter-Collegiate Athletic Association.

New England Tennis Association of the ATA was created.

St. Louis Tennis Association formed largely due to the efforts of Dr. W.H.A. Barrett.

Carnegie Corporation purchases Arturo Schomberg’s collection of books and artifacts on African American life. The collection becomes the basis for the Schomberg Center for Research on Black Culture.

Dr. M. Johnson becomes the first African American president of Howard University.
Lynchings – 23

10th ATA Nationals held at the Sherman Park Tennis Courts in St. Louis, Missouri. Eyre Saitch won the Men’s Singles final and Isadore Channels won her 4th National Women’s Singles title. Eyre Saitch and Ted Thompson captured the Men’s Doubles title and Lulu Ballard and Ora Washington retained the Women’s Doubles title. E. Robinson and E. Cole won the Mixed Doubles.

Eyre Saitch, an outstanding athlete, also played professional basketball for the Harlem Rens. Isadora Channels and Ora Washington also played for champion basketball teams.

Promoter “Cash and Carry” Pyle established professional tour with Suzanne Lenglen of France, Mary Brown, Vincent Richards and Howard Kinsey.

Captain Joshua Cockburn donated a sterling cup for the winner of the Cockburn Trophy Matches, an inter-state competition between New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Certificate of Incorporation for the ATA was signed.
In a 1926 survey of 70 back colleges, only 36 had tennis courts and only 4 had tennis coaches.

Abe Saperstein forms the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team.
Lynchings – 16

11th ATA Nationals were held at Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia – the first ATA National Tournament held in the South. Both Ted Thompson and Lulu Ballard won their second National Singles title. Thompson and Tally Holmes won the Men’s Doubles and Lulu Ballard and Ora Washington took the Women’s Doubles. Louis Jones and Blanche Winston took the Mixed Doubles title and Douglas Turner won the Junior title.

12th ATA Nationals returned to Bordentown, New Jersey. Edgar Brown captured the Men’s title and Lulu Ballard repeated as the Women’s Champion. Saitch and Dr. Sylvester Smith won the Men’s Doubles. Ora Washington and Lulu Ballard successfully defended their Women’s Doubles title. Blanche Winston and W.A. Kean won the Mixed Doubles.


Herbert Clark Hoover is elected 31st President of the United States.

Dr. Martin Luther Kings, Jr. is born.

13th ATA Nationals again at Bordentown, New Jersey. Edgar Brown again won the Men’s title and Ora Washington won her first singles title defeating Francis Gittens. Saitch and Smith retained their Men’s Doubles title and Ballard and Washington repeated as Women’s Doubles Champions. Dr. O.B. Williams and Miss Anita Gant won the Mixed Doubles and Nat Jackson won the Junior title.

Reginald Weir and Gerald Norman, Jr. paid entry fee but were denied entry into the USLTA Junior Indoor Championships on the basis of race. Gerald Norman, Sr. sought support from the NAACP, which in turn filed a formal grievance.

Douglas Turner from the University of Illinois was runner-up in Big Ten tennis championships.

Wallace Fard Muhammed founds the Nation of Islam movement in Detroit.
Lynchings – 20

14th ATA Nationals were held at the Douglas Park Courts in Indianapolis. Douglas Turner was the Men’s Singles Champion and Ora Washington won the Women’s title. Anita Gant and Dr. O.B. Williams seized the Mixed Doubles trophy. Washington and Winston won the Women’s Doubles and John McGriff and Elwood Downing won the Men’s Doubles. Nathaniel Jackson repeated as Junior Champion.

Williams Trophy was donated by the employees of Grand Central Station for a competition between collegiate players from the Colored Inter-Collegiate Athletic Association and the Southern Inter-Collegiate Athletic Association; played for annually at the ATA Nationals.