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On this date in 1963, Zina Garrison Jackson was born. She is a retired Black tennis professional and is an activist for inner-city youth.
From Houston, TX, where she began playing at the age of 10 on the city courts of her hometown. She turned professional in 1982 and first appeared at No. 29 in world rankings. Seven years later, she reached a career high No. 4 and became the first Black woman since Althea Gibson to reach a Grand Slam final in 1990. At Wimbledon, Garrison upset Monica Seles and Steffi Graf in back-to-back matches before dropping the final to Martina Navratilova, 6-4, 6-1. Three years later Garrison became only the 12th woman to win 500 professional matches. She earned her 14th career singles title in 1995 at Birmingham, England, defeating good friend Lori McNeil in the final.
One of the finest doubles players in the game's recent history, Garrison captured 20 major championships. With Pam Shriver, she earned the 1988 Olympic Gold Medal in Seoul, Korea. Garrison continues to live in Houston as one of the most prominent citizens of Texas' largest city. She heads the Zina Garrison Foundation which provides funds and support for the homeless, youth organizations, anti-drug groups, and other charitable organizations. She also founded the Zina Garrison All-Court Tennis program in 1992, providing inner city kids the opportunity to build self-esteem through tennis.
She actively jogs, plays softball, and does artwork, including designing her own painted T-shirts. In 1997, Garrison was inducted into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame. In 2001, she took office as director at large of the United States Tennis Association. Garrison is serving a two-year term on the USTA’s 15-member board of directors. Garrison’s future hopes include the establishment of a homeless shelter and additional Texas junior tennis programs.
After "piling on weight" in her 40s, Garrison participated in season 16 of the reality TV competition The Biggest Loser, titled The Biggest Loser: Glory Days, which premiered in 2014. Despite losing 8 lbs., she was the first person eliminated from the program.
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