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tennis

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Margaret and Roumania, The Tennis Superstars That Paved The Way For Venus And Serena

Decades before Venus and Serena Williams overpowered the sport, Margaret and Roumania Peters changed the face of women’s tennis.

Affectionately known as “Pete” and “Repeat” Peters, they made history with their doubles record from the 1930s to the 1950s. At a time when African Americans were not allowed to compete against whites, the Peters sisters played in the American Tennis Association, which was created specifically to give Blacks a forum to play tennis competitively.

Margaret and Roumania Peters
Roumania (left) and Margaret (right) Peters dominated the American Tennis Association in the 1940s. (Photo courtesy of Fannie Walker Weekes)

Margaret Peters was born in 1915 in Washington, D.C., and Roumania Peters was born two years later in the same city. The girls began playing tennis for fun when Margaret was about ten years old. They played in a park across from their home in Georgetown.

They began to play competitively when they were teenagers in the 1930s. The Peters sisters played for the American Tennis Association (ATA), which was created in 1916 to organize Negro Tennis Clubs across the country and to provide competitions for African-American tennis players.

At that time tennis, like most other sports, was segregated so African Americans were not allowed to compete against whites.

By the time tennis integrated, Margaret and Roumania Peters were in their 30’s — considered to be the retirement age for elite players. As a result, they barely missed their own opportunity to make history.

As Roumania’s daughter, Fannie Walker Weeks put it, “My father always said that they just came along at the wrong time but they were happy with their lives. They were happy with what tennis did for them.”

After retiring from the ATA in the early 1950s, Margaret and Roumania earned master’s degrees and worked in the D.C. Public Schools, while continuing to inspire and encourage the next generation of D.C. tennis players.

For twelve years, Roumania taught tennis in the Department of Recreation’s summer tennis camp at Rose Park. Many of her protégés went on to receive four-year-athletic scholarships to college.

Margaret and Roumania Peters
Mayor Muriel Bowser and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson along with Peters family members, friends and officials unveil the Peters plaque for the tennis courts at Rose Park. | Photo by Robert Devaney

Years later, Margaret and Roumania Peters received overdue recognition for their athletic accomplishments. In 2003 the USTA presented the sisters with an “achievement award” and inducted them into the Mid-Atlantic Section Hall of Fame.  In 2015, the DC Government officially dedicated the Rose Park Tennis Courts to Margaret and Roumania Peters.

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Sloane Stephens beats Venus Williams to reach U.S. Open final

Sloane Stephens reached her first Grand Slam final at the U.S. Open at the expense of seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, who was hoping to play in a third major final this season.

Stephens, who sat out 11 months with a left foot stress fracture until this year’s Wimbledon, captured a 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 win in a 2-hour, 7-minute semifinal victory over Williams on Thursday night.

Stephens’ win guarantees there will be a newly minted Grand Slam champion on Saturday. She’ll face 15th seed Madison Keys in an all-American final.

 

“I have no words to describe what it took, what I’m feeling, the journey I took to get here,” said the 24-year-old Stephens, who wiped away a few tears after the match. “I have no idea (how I got here). Your guess is just as good as mine.”

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

When Williams, the 2000 and ’01 champion here, walked off the court following the match, Stephens stood up and applauded her out of the arena.

Williams was asked if it’s any consolation that the three other semifinalists have looked up to her and credit her with inspiration.

“Well, to be honest, I’m definitely here to win my matches, not for consolations. That definitely sums it up,” she said.

Stephens, who was sidelined from last year’s Olympics to Wimbledon in July has presented as a new player since her return. Since Wimbledon she reached the Toronto and Cincinnati semifinals and is now into the U.S. Open final.

Currently ranked 83rd, Stephens was ranked No. 957 only 33 days ago . Now she will move up to at least No. 22 by reaching the final.

She is the 14th unseeded player to land in a Grand Slam final in the Open era and the fourth to achieve that feat at the U.S. Open. The only unseeded player to win the U.S. Open was Kim Clijsters of Belgium in 2009.

Stephens came across as more settled at the outset of the match and raced through the first set in 24 minutes. Williams appeared nervous and uncomfortable, which accounted for 17 unforced errors and allowed Stephens to utilize all three break points offered.

With the manner in which Stephens took control of the opening set, it seemed nearly impossible that Williams could recover. But Williams should never be underestimated. She settled down to dominate the second set by playing more disciplined and patient tennis.

It was the third set, however, that produced all the drama, the kind of tennis that had the crowd not only cheering, but even offering a standing ovation or two. That final set seesawed between the two, highlighting how much was at stake in the match.

In the end, it was Stephens who was able to strike the final blow at 5-5 by breaking Williams’ serve at love in the 11th game. All she needed was one match point on serve in the 12th game to call herself a Grand Slam finalist.

“It required a lot of fight, grit,” Stephens said. “I knew if I stayed with it, played the game the best I could, I’d have a chance.I worked my tail off. And in the finals we are.”

Source: USA Today