Ora Washington (right), holding trophy for her victory at the Pennsylvania Open in Philadelphia, PA, July 1939.
Credit: John Mosley Collection, Courtesy Charles L. Blockson Afro American Collection, Temple University.
One of the great athletes of the 1930s, Philadelphia's Ora Washington won nine consecutive singles tennis championships between 1929 and 1937, and twelve straight doubles championships with partner Lula Ballard, also from Philadelphia, from 1925 onwards. Playing in the all-black American Tennis Association, Washington never had the opportunity to test her skills against reigning world woman's championHelen Wills Moody, who refused to play her. No African-American woman would play in the United States National Lawn Tennis Association until Althea Gibson broke the color barrier in 1950.