In celebration of Black History Month, the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) released a digital exhibit, Breaking the Racial Barriers, which is a comprehensive look at the history of black tennis in America. The exhibit includes brief profiles of black tennis pioneers, former pros and current top pros, including tennis greats Serena and Venus Williams and Dr. R. Walter Johnson, who in 2009 was inducted into the (ITHF) as a contributor. Throughout the Australian Open, the dougsmithpost.com will recognize selected black pioneers and current players.
2017 U.S. Open Finalist
Like other precocious rising juniors of her generation, Madison Keys joined the pro tour as soon as she became eligible -February 17, 2009, the same day she celebrated her 14th birthday. Thanks to a first serve, often clocked at 120 mph or better and a blistering forehand, the 5-10 righthander has been ranked among the top 25 for the last four years.
“I can almost say that she almost matches Serena (Williams) in power,” former pro Chris Evert once said. “Her power off both sides (forehand and backhand) is tremendous.”
Keys, 25, captured her second of five WTA titles at the 2016 Birmingham Classic and reached the fourth round of the four major events, finishing the year with a career-high World No. 7 ranking. Some of her other results at the majors also have been notable. She was a semifinalist at the 2015 Australian Open and the 2018 French Open; a quarterfinalist at the 2015 Wimbledon and a finalist at the 2017 U.S. Open, where she lost to Sloane Stephens, her close friend. Stephens, the tireless runner, zipped past No. 15 seed Keys, the slugger, 6-3, 6-0.
“Sloane is one of my favorite people,” Keys said after the match. “I didn’t play my best tennis and if there’s someone I have to lose to, I’m glad it’s her.” Keys has earned $12.6 million in prize money and has endorsement deals with Nike (clothes and shoes) and Wilson (rackets).