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Ora Mae Washington
*On this date in 1898 we celebrate the birth of Ora Belle Washington. She was a Black tennis and basketball player.
Born in Philadelphia, she is best remembered for her twelve years of undefeated play (1924-36) in the all-Black American Tennis Association (ATA). Washington won eight ATA National Crowns in women’s singles between 1929 and 1937. With a number of different partners, she also won every woman’s doubles championship between 1925 and 1936, and mixed doubles championships in 1939, 1946, and 1947.
Washington’s athletic ability was not just as a tennis player, in 1930’s and 1940’s she was center, leading scorer, and coach for the Philadelphia Tribune’s women’s basketball team, which traveled across the country playing White and Black, men or women’s teams. She also played for the Germantown Hornets, another Philadelphia basketball team. Washington spent most her life in relative obscurity.
When the Black Athletes Hall of Fame inducted her in March 1976, they were unaware that Ora Belle Washington had died in Philadelphia five years earlier on May 28, 1971.
Black Women in America An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York