Bob Ryland, First African-American Pro, Dies Aged 100

Ezt olvasta már?

Zhuhai: The Newest Chinese Event On The ATP Tour

The Zhuhai Championships made its ATP Tour debut last year, with four Top 15 players competing in the singles main draw. The second edition of...

Chengdu: Where Khachanov Made His Breakthrough

First held in 2016, the Chengdu Open is one of four Chinese events during the three-week Asian Swing. The ATP 250 would have been held...

Doubles Preview: Will Krawietz/Mies Retain Their Roland Garros Title?

© Peter Staples/ATP Tour Andreas Mies and Kevin Krawietz are the defending Roland Garros champions. ...

Thiem Opens Title Bid With Convincing Cilic Win

In his first match as a Grand Slam champion, Dominic Thiem began his title bid at Roland Garros with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 victory...

Robert ‘Bob’ Ryland, the first African-American pro tennis player and a coach to future trailblazing generations of global stars including Arthur Ashe, Venus and Serena Williams, passed away on Monday aged 100.

His parents, Irishman Robert Sr., and mother, Gussie, who died of tuberculosis when Ryland was aged two, were forced to move from Alabama to Chicago. Upon the death of his mother, Ryland, who received his first tennis racquet at the age of eight, was raised by his grandmother in Mobile, Alabama, where his father taught him to play on clay courts in the segregated Brooklyn Park.

Returning to Chicago after almost 10 years away, Ryland went on to become the first African-American to win the Illinois State title, beating Chris Evert’s father, Jimmy, in the 1939 final. Around this time, he received a scholarship to Xavier University, a Historically Black College and University in New Orleans, and served in the U.S. Army between 1941 and 1945.

Ryland returned to another scholarship at Wayne State University in Detroit, where he resumed his tennis career. But during away matches was forced to eat separately from his teammates and occasionally slept on the team bus. He was one of the first African-Americans to play in the NCAA Championships, and gained a bachelor of science degree at Tennessee A&I in Nashville, where he coached and led the team to two small college national championships.

A combination of American Tennis Association (ATA) advocacy, an open letter from Alice Marble to the American Lawn Tennis Magazine in 1950, and a perception shift helped to start breaking down barriers in tennis across the next decade. Ryland, who moved to California after his studies, played tennis with Pancho Gonzalez and competed in ATA tournaments, becoming singles champion in 1955 and 1956.

In 1955, the United States Lawn Tennis Association awarded Ryland a wild card into the US Nationals at Forest Hills, having picked up that year’s ATA crown, and four years later, at the age of 39, he received an invitation to join promoter Jack Kramer’s World Pro Tour Championships, receiving $300 a match. At 5’9″ and 155 pounds, Ryland had a powerful serve, a solid game, backhand and net game. 

For a short time, Ryland was a YMCA physical education director in Montclair, New Jersey, taught tennis in Washington D.C., including to the Kennedy family, and coached at the Mid-Town Tennis Club in New York City from 1963 to 1990, honing the games of Arthur Ashe, a young Harold Solomon, Bruce Foxworth, and dozens of celebrities including Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett and Dustin Hoffman. Richard Williams also brought Ryland to Florida to oversee his daughters, 14-year-old Venus and 13-year-old Serena.

Ryland, who continued to volunteer his services at Harlem’s Frederick Johnson Playground each Saturday, passed away alongside his partner, Nancy, at his home in New York City, the oldest of more than 13,000 tennis court permit holders in the metropolis.

Robert Ryland, tennis player and coach, born 16 June 1920, died 3 August 2020.

Photo courtesy:

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Legfrissebb a témában

Berrettini Powers Into Roland Garros Second Round; Garin Beats Kohlschreiber

Matteo Berrettini opened his Roland Garros campaign with a comprehensive 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 win over Vasek Pospisil in one hour and 48 minutes on...

Megnyílt a La Casita, ami hivatalosan is a legcukibb hely a városban

Levesek és főzelékek Mamma mia! Cukormentes Igen, jól olvastátok! ...

Nagyiféle sütikre és zserbófagyira bukkantunk a Kazinczy utcában

Megúszós sütik Tökéletes nyári desszert! Mindig nagyon inspiráló olyan emberekkel találkozni, akik megelégelve a mókuskereket,...

Az édes ízek nyertek múlt héten

Ezt igazából gyerek nélkül is lehet élvezni 😀 Megúszós sütik Tökéletes nyári desszert!...

Két év előkészület után megnyitott Pesti István séf új étterme Tatán

Levesek és főzelékek Mamma mia! Cukormentes Igen, jól olvastátok! ...
- Advertisement -

Még több hasonló cikk a témában

- Advertisement -