Formerly One of the Best Female Tennis Players & Member of the U.S. Olympic Team; Contestant on "The Biggest Loser"
An African American and the youngest of seven children, Zina Garrison started playing tennis at the age of 10 and entered her first tournament at the age of 12. Her success as a junior player quickly made the tennis world take notice. At the age of 14 she won the national girls’ 18s title. And…
An African American and the youngest of seven children, Zina Garrison started playing tennis at the age of 10 and entered her first tournament at the age of 12. Her success as a junior player quickly made the tennis world take notice. At the age of 14 she won the national girls’ 18s title. And then in 1981, she won both the Wimbledon and US Open junior titles and was ranked the World No. 1 junior player. Garrison graduated from Sterling High School in Houston in 1982.
Garrison began suffering from the eating disorder bulimia when she was 19, following the death of her mother. “I had never been comfortable with my looks and felt I had lost the only person who loved me unconditionally,” Garrison told the British Observer Sport Monthly in 2006. “The pressure of being labeled ‘the next Althea Gibson’ only made things worse. I felt I was never going to be allowed to grow into just becoming me.”
Garrison turned professional in 1982, and skipped her graduation at Ross Sterling High School to compete in the French Open, her first tournament as a professional, where she reached the quarterfinals before being knocked-out by Martina Navrátilová.
Despite battling bulimia during her first few years on the tour, Garrison enjoyed notable success on-court. She reached the Australian Open semifinals in her first full year on the tour – 1983 – and finished the year ranked World No. 10. She won her first top-level singles titles in 1984 at the European Indoor Championships in Zürich. She was a Wimbledon semifinalist in 1985, and in 1986, she won her first tour doubles at the Canadian Open (partnering Gabriela Sabatini).
At the Australian Open in 1987, Garrison won the mixed doubles (partnering Sherwood Stewart) and finished runner-up in the women’s doubles (partnering Lori McNeil). A year later, Garrison and Stewart captured the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon.
At the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Garrison teamed with Pam Shriver to win the women’s doubles gold medal for the United States, defeating Jana Novotná and Helena Suková of Czechoslovakia in the final. And Garrison defeated Shriver in the quarterfinals of the singles event, where she won a bronze medal. At the US Open, she defeated defending champion Navratilova for the first time in her career, advancing to the semifinals where she lost to Sabatini.
In 1989, Garrison defeated Chris Evert 7–6, 6–2 in the quarterfinals of the US Open in what proved to be the final Grand Slam singles match of Evert’s career. Garrison subsequently lost to Navrátilová in the semifinals. She finished 1989 ranked a career-high World No. 4 in singles.
The highlight of Garrison’s career came in 1990 at Wimbledon. She defeated French Open champion Monica Seles in the quarterfinals 3–6, 6–3, 9–7 and the defending Wimbledon champion and World No. 1 Steffi Graf in the semifinals 6–3, 3–6, 6–4 to reach her first (and only) Grand Slam singles final, becoming the first African-American woman to do so since Althea Gibson. There, she lost to Navrátilová 6–4, 6–1 who won her record ninth women’s singles title at Wimbledon. However, Garrison claimed her third Grand Slam mixed doubles title at Wimbledon that year (partnering Rick Leach).
In 1992, Garrison finished runner-up in the Australian Open women’s doubles (partnering Mary Joe Fernandez).
Garrison retired from the professional tour in 1996. During her career, she won 14 top-level singles titles and 20 doubles titles. Since retiring from the tour, Garrison has worked as a television commentator and maintained active roles in the community and in tennis. She founded the Zina Garrison Foundation for the Homeless in 1988, and the Zina Garrison All-Court Tennis Program, which supports inner-city tennis in Houston, in 1992. She has also served as a member of the United States President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
Garrison has maintained a presence on the professional tennis scene, and was the captain for the U.S. Federation Cup team before relinquishing the role to Mary Joe Fernandez in 2008. This role involves coaching the team and giving on-court advice. She also led the U.S. women’s team at the 2008 Beijing Games tennis event where team members Venus and Serena Williams won a doubles gold medal.
Ernie was perfect for our Elders Conference at Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, Michigan. We will definitely be using PDA again!
LITTLE RIVER BAND OF OTTAWA INDIANS
Our speaker was great and the crowd enjoyed her! She was very engaging. Thank you again PDA for the great list of suggestions!
Everything went great! and our speaker was wonderful! Thank you so much for all your help PDA! Looking forward to the next one.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI – KANSAS CITY
I hope that this message finds you well. We had a phenomenal time with Atsuko this past Thursday. We wanted to just let you know how amazing she was. All those that were in attendance thoroughly enjoyed her and had nothing but amazing things to say about her. Thank you for working with us to make sure this happened!
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
We had a fantastic day with Inge! She was very engaging with all those that attended. Her personal stories about the holocaust were very special and we were moved that she was willing to share them with everyone. Thank you again, PDA for all your hard work and dedication to make this program such a success!
SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Dear PDA Group, Thank you so much for your hard work in scheduling our speaker! From the moment we reached out to you the first time, you worked with us on all details and logistics and kept us up-to-date on the progress. Thank you for all your hard work on making our event such a success! We couldn't have done it without you and your team!
Thank you again, Dr. Kimbrough, for a great presentation, our attendees are still talking about it!
Dr. Henry Lee's presentation was entertaining, insightful and wise. I, and everyone at Pfizer, especially appreciate the remarks you directed about following your passion and preparing yourself to excel. Thank you, everyone, at PDA for helping to make this happen!
The event was successful! I received many messages expressing how awesome, outstanding and inspiring Ms. Webb-Christburg's speech was."
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. MEMORIAL BREAKFAST, BOSTON, MLK SPEAKER
Everything went well. Atsuko was very easy to work with and the students enjoyed her performance! Thank you again for your recommendation and I hope to work with you again in the future!
CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Dr. Novello left this morning after a very successful event on our campus! Thank you PDA Group for your help from the first phone to the last you were with us every step of the way.
GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
Jordan Carlos was very very entertaining! A majority of students who answered the event survey indicated they really enjoyed Jordan and definitely will bring him back!
WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
On behalf of myself and my organization Entertainment Unlimited the Campus Programming Board of Ferris State University, we thank you PDA and Dan for a successful event!! Dan was magnificent! Students really enjoyed the presentation. I know I did. Can't wait to bring in more programs with PDA Group.
FERRIS STATE UNIVERSITY
It was a great pleasure to work with PDA Group! The communication was always prompt, friendly and helpful. We loved the speakers and events we booked through Mr. Peter Walker (PDA Group).
WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Thank you, Peter, for all your help, you'll be happy to know that the event went incredibly well! Aneesa Ferreira was by far one of the best speakers we've ever had!
A Conversation With Zina Garrison
Talks on Her Tennis Academy, Reflects on Her Career, and much more..
Zina Garrison Talks on Her Tennis Academy, Reflects on Her Career, and much more..
1 HOUR OR LESS