ORA WASHINGTON

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Feb 12: Before there was Althea Gibson, there was Ora Washington.  Born in 1898 in Philadelphia, PA, Washington was the winningest professional tennis player of her time.  The “Queen of Tennis” won eight American Tennis Association (ATA) National singles titles between 1929 and 1937.  She dominated in doubles as well, winning every ATA National women’s doubles title from 1925 through 1936, and three mixed doubles titles in 1939, 1946 and 1947.  Not only did Washington rule the tennis court, but she ruled the basketball court as well.  Although she didn’t begin playing until was 32 years old, you would’ve never thought basketball was her second sport.  In 1930 while playing with the Germantown Hornets she led her team to a 22-1 record and a national title.  From 1932-1942, with the Philadelphia Tribunes, she served as the team’s center, leading scorer, and coach. The team won 11 straight Women’s Colored Basketball World’s Championships and Washington was considered “the best Colored player in the world.”  Washington was never able to compete against white athletes but there was no doubt that her skill world class.  After retiring from sports in the mid-1940s Washington went on to support herself as a housekeeper.  She is member of Temple University’s and the Women’s Basketball Halls of Fame. 

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