top of page




Like many of those who grew up and came of age in Europe in the 1930s, the course of Freddie Botur’s life was greatly influenced by the massive historical events swirling around him. Born with the name Vratislav Botur to a butcher and a violinist in 1922 in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), he survived both German and Russian occupation during and after World War II. When he was 26 years old, he fled the country to escape an oppressive Communist regime, seeking refuge in Germany and Australia before eventually arriving in New York in 1952 with “more hope than luggage,” he wrote in his memoir. In New York, he found work as a tennis pro and went on to live out a true American dream, establishing five facilities in New York City at the height of the tennis boom in the 1960s and 1970s. The longest-running of these clubs, the Long Island City-based Tennisport, served an eclectic clientele of business VIPs, USTA members and pro players and was still in operation as recently as 2009.


Botur first picked up a racquet when he was 14 on a vacation with his mother, and he liked the game enough to continue taking lessons at the local club when they returned home. However, he did not consider tennis as a career until much later, when he was living in Frankfurt, Germany as a refugee. He’d just been told that he’d have to move out of his apartment, and, unsure of where he’d find lodging—or food—next, he walked aimlessly around the bombed-out city until he stumbled into a park. As he stopped to admire a group of red clay courts that reminded him of his childhood, a man approached Botur and asked him if he knew how to play. Botur said that he did, and the man—the groundskeeper of the facility—told him that an American army captain was in desperate need of a hitting partner. Botur agreed to help. At the end of the session, the captain paid Botur, mistaking him for a teaching pro. The rest was history. In a matter of days, Botur began giving up to six lessons a day at three dollars per hour to other American officers.

“It was my mother who had insisted I take [tennis] lessons...but it was the war that turned my life upside down and landed me in a foreign country with a groundskeeper, who accidentally gave me my start in a tennis career,” Botur wrote. 


After a detour in Australia, Botur arrived in America and procured a job as a pro at the River Club in New York City. The club drew a high-end membership, and soon Botur was giving lessons to a wide range of government officials, company founders and CEOs, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts.


“It seems that interesting moments occurred daily in teaching tennis, which also involved listening to people’s personal problems and sympathizing with them,” Botur wrote. “I think this was part of why I was well-liked and had [a] good and steady clientele...many of them became friends.”


Botur leaned on these friendships as he thought about pursuing facility ownership in the mid-1960s.

“I wondered why a city like New York did not have more tennis clubs,” he wrote. “In Europe or Australia, in addition to the public courts, there were countless little tennis clubs available to anyone who could afford them, without needing ten recommendation letters and a waiting list.”


To that end, he first opened Tennis Inc. at the 34th Street Armory in Manhattan in 1965. The club, which consisted of five indoor courts, counted 200 members by opening day. It was at the Armory that Botur also helped support pre-Open era players: In 1967, Tennis Inc. hosted a men’s tournament for player/promoter Jack Kramer that featured Rod Laver, Pancho Segura and Cliff Drysdale. Three years later the facility also hosted one of the first Virginia Slims Invitational Tournaments, featuring fellow 2021 Eastern Hall of Fame inductee Billie Jean King. (The Virginia Slims Circuit, of course, would eventually evolve into the WTA.)


The city demolished the Armory in 1971, which marked the end of Tennis Inc. By that time Botur had already established a separate club on the Upper West Side, called the West Park Racquet Club. Due in no small part to Botur’s reputation, West Park’s eleven outdoor courts attracted a who’s who of New York notables. The mayor of the city at the time, John Lindsay, hit with Botur each morning; others who picked up the sport at the location included Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford. In fact, Redford and Botur became so friendly over the years that the actor attended the opening of another one of Botur’s clubs—the Cedarhurst Tennis Club in Queens—to help generate publicity. During this time, Botur also ran Tennis 59, an innovative indoor tennis facility under the 59th Street Bridge. At Tennis 59, Botur presented an Easter Bowl Champion trophy to a 10-year-old John McEnroe.

In 1972, Botur opened Tennisport, perhaps his most storied contribution to the NYC tennis ecosystem. By the mid-1980s, the club—which sat just across the East River from Manhattan—counted over 1200 members among its ranks. It was so successful for a time that Botur ended up buying the land on which it was built. (His other clubs had been forced to shut down mostly due to the city refusing to renew his lease, so the move was a no-brainer.) 


In addition to enticing big-name customers like Ralph Lauren and Rupert Murdoch, Tennisport became a hub for professional players. McEnroe, Jim Courier, Botur’s Czech compatriot Ivan Lendl, Pete Sampras and Arthur Ashe all spent time training at the facility. McEnroe even persuaded Botur to install the same US Open court surface at Tennisport so that the athlete could practice there in the lead-up to the Queens-based Grand Slam. But Botur’s personal touch ensured it would serve as more than just a tennis club: Over the years, the site also included an art gallery to support local artists and hosted multiple charity events—with Elton John and Mary Tyler Moore among those in attendance—to support youth tennis programming. Tennisport only shut down in 2009 as a result of a protracted eminent domain dispute with the city.


Today, Botur—who will celebrate his 100th birthday in February 2022—resides on a ranch in Wyoming with his wife, Annegret. But there’s no understating the indelible mark he left on the tennis culture in his first home in America, New York. There’s also no denying how his experiences as a refugee in the first part of his life helped strengthen his drive to succeed in subsequent years.

“I was constantly thinking about ways to improve my little income and quality of life,” Botur wrote. “I would turn out to be what they call now an entrepreneur, but back then, I was just trying to figure out a way to get ahead.”


It started with a letter. In 2006, newly-installed USTA Eastern Section President Dr. Dale G. Caldwell—the first Black person ever to hold that position at the organization—wrote to the leadership at the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) and asked them to consider developing an exhibit that spotlighted Black tennis history. The subject matter was vast and underexplored, he wrote. Baseball has done a great deal to commemorate its historical Black players—why can’t our sport?


“Much to my surprise, they said ‘All right, that’s a good idea. Why don’t you serve as the exhibit curator?’” Caldwell recalls. “If I had just been a typical tennis fan, they would have likely ignored my suggestion. But I had the good fortune of being the president of a prestigious USTA of the things my dad taught me was to use any influence that I had to make a difference in society.”


Caldwell worked closely with ITHF Museum Director Gary Cogar and tennis champion and historian Art Carrington to put together what would eventually be called Breaking the Barriers. The exhibit waded through 100 years of history, showcasing the stories of the many excellent Black tennis players in the twentieth century who could not reach the upper echelons of the sport or gain any renown because of the color of their skin. It also shined a light on the formation and century-long work of the American Tennis Association (ATA), a national tennis organization created specifically to help those players compete, as well as the achievements on and off the court of Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe and more as they started to break through the discriminatory and racist regulations that had held them down for so long.

Breaking the Barriers debuted at the 2007 US Open, where it was viewed by over 26,000 spectators. After the tournament, it would become the ITHF’s most successful touring exhibit ever.


“It was very well-received, by people of all races and backgrounds,” says Caldwell. “I remember young white players and their parents looking at the exhibit with tears in their eyes. I overheard them saying, ‘I’m complaining about line calls, and look what these players went through.’ That really was very moving to me, because the exhibit opened people’s eyes to a history they never knew about. My hope was to convince people that Black history is American history.”


The success of the exhibit led Caldwell to subsequently found the Black Tennis Hall of Fame (BTHOF) in 2007 so that an official body could continue to recognize the athletes who were for so long overlooked. So far, the BTHOF has inducted nearly 100 of these tennis VIPs; under the leadership of Shelia Curry, it recently held its thirteenth induction ceremony. Caldwell considers the BTHOF his proudest tennis-related accomplishment. “Bob Ryland, the first black male tennis pro, was one of the biggest fans of the Black Tennis Hall of Fame,” Caldwell notes. “He was just so appreciative that his legacy was honored. Recognizing these great players, some of whom have been forgotten, will always be what I’m most proud of in tennis.”


Caldwell’s own personal journey in the sport reveals just why he has dedicated his life to this work. His love for the game was instilled in him by his late father, the Reverend Gilbert H. Caldwell Jr. Before he became a leader of the Civil Rights Movement who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Gilbert grew up in deeply segregated Galveston, Texas, where the nearby tennis club only permitted white members. A big fan of the sport, “my dad used to look through the fence and wish he could play,” Dale says.

Gilbert eventually moved up north to Boston for divinity school. There, he started a family and brought a young Dale to the Sportsmen’s Tennis Club, a Dorchester, Massachusetts-based non-profit tennis facility that had been established in 1961 by members of the Black community. “He wanted to make sure his first-born son had the opportunities to play tennis he didn’t have because of segregation,” Dale explains.


As Dale got older, he would make the most of those opportunities. He competed in junior tournaments across the USTA New England Section, eventually becoming the No. 5 junior in Connecticut and earning a section ranking in the Boys’ 18 division. He also attained a national ranking in the Top 17 in the same division of the ATA. The consistently good results ultimately spilled over into Dale’s off-court life, giving the young student belief and confidence.


“I grew up in largely Black communities,” he explains. “And I went to white private schools. I really felt like a fish out of water in both places. So there was a lot of insecurity. But tennis provided a foundation for me. I knew I always had that. It really helped ground me so I could be successful in other things.”

He also credits the sport with helping him get into Princeton University, where he earned a degree in economics and played for the school’s “B” tennis team. (Future professional players Jay Lapidus and Leif Shiras competed for the “A” team at the time, which was ranked No. 5 in the country.) And he continued to achieve great results post-college, attaining rankings in three USTA Eastern divisions (Men’s 25, 30 and 40), two USTA Middle States divisions (Men’s Open and 35) and nationally for Men’s 40. He also won the New Jersey Senior Olympics Gold Medal.


To share his love for the game, he became certified as a United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) P-1 tennis pro, a certification he’s continued to hold for over 36 years. Holding this certification afforded him his most cherished on-court experience, when he got the chance to help Arthur Ashe teach tennis at an event in 1989. Ashe was speaking at the Black MBA Association and wanted to give free lessons to some of the attendees who were interested. They needed another certified coach, so Dale, a member of the association, stepped up to assist.


“What a gentleman,” Dale says of Ashe. “If there was any athlete growing up that I admired, he was number one...Growing up in New England, so often I would be the only Black player in junior tournaments. So as an African-American, you don’t necessarily have the confidence that you should have. You feel like an impostor. That’s why Arthur Ashe was so great. I mean, how in the face of racism was he able to be so successful? Ashe and other BTHOF Inductees experienced a lot of trauma, and their sacrifices made my life in and out of tennis a lot easier. I realize I’m standing on their shoulders.”


Dale reflected on all of this—as well his father’s Galveston history—prior to sending the letter to the ITHF. And when he joined the USTA National Board after his tenure as Eastern President—the first Black person to join the governing body after serving as a Section President—he continued to envision similar initiatives. 

One of his big projects after he served as chair of the USTA’s Strategic Planning Committee was the creation of the New York Open, a professional tournament held in Central Park. It was designed specifically to help players ranked below 300 in the world earn extra income. The tournament ran from 2013 to 2019, and Dale hopes to bring a similar event back to the area in the future.


“For young players of color and players who are economically disadvantaged, these kinds of tournaments give them a shot.”


Overall, the projects in tennis that Dale has championed—from Breaking the Barriers to Hall of Fame to the New York Open—support one overarching goal. It’s another mentality instilled in him by his father.


“I want to be a voice for the voiceless,” he says.



Dr. Harold German was ranked as high as No. 6 in the Eastern Men’s division. A standout athlete with a top-notch forehand, German led his high school team to the finals of the New Jersey State Championships, and then captained a Princeton University team that was ranked No. 8 in the country. From 1963-1967, he was a major contender on the Eastern Men’s Clay Court Circuit, reaching the final stages of multiple tournaments and winning the Park Lakes Invitational. During this period, he played Arthur Ashe three times and captured wins over future Grand Slam semifinalists Sandy Mayer and Dick Stockton.


German first picked up a racquet around seven years old. In Jersey City’s Lincoln Park, he hit a tennis ball against a backboard while his father, an avid player and student of the game, helped perfect his son’s forehand. Even at an early age, German responded to the sport and found something special about it.


“It was sort of academic, like a chess game,” he says now. “There was a lot of thinking to it, and I liked competing on my own.”


German played No. 2 singles at Dickinson High School as a 13-year-old freshman, losing just one match. The team made it all the way to the state championship final that year, and then repeated the result the following year as well, with German stepping into the No. 1 position his sophomore season. A newspaper article named German one of the top ten all-time high school players in the state from 1900-1959, a list that also included fellow Eastern Hall of Famer Dick Savitt. At the same time, German scored some impressive victories on the Eastern boys’ circuit. He reached the Eastern Boys’ 15 Championship final and then won the doubles title at the tournament with partner Herb Fitzgibbons, another Eastern Hall of Famer. He’d claim what he considers his most impressive junior victory at the National Junior Championships in Kalamazoo, upsetting Top 20 junior and Junior Davis Cup team member Cliff Buccholz in the first round. German would end up ranked as high as No. 27 nationally.

“If I could hit a forehand, I was in good shape,” German says of what made him so successful. “My father said not to hit any backhands if you could possibly avoid it. At the time we were playing with wood racquets, and they were pretty heavy. You could clobber the ball. So I was a tough player with that, and generally good at staying focused.” After high school German attended Princeton University, where he eventually was named captain and played No. 2 singles. His former doubles partner Fitzgibbons held the No. 1 spot, and the two faced each other in an all-Princeton battle in the Eastern Collegiate Final. 


Post-college, German headed to Columbia University Medical School. While earning his medical degree from 1963 to 1967, he competed regularly on the Eastern Men’s Clay Court Circuit and achieved some of his greatest results in the sport during this time. He made the

semifinals of the New York State Championships, the New Jersey State Championships, the Long Island Championships and the Eastern Championships, and attained an Eastern Men’s ranking of No. 6. In 1965, he won the Parks Lake Invitational, a tournament that included most of the top Eastern and New England players at the time.


“These tournaments would have a full draw, almost 100 players,” he recalls. “You’d have to play seven rounds to win, and with each match you’re getting more nervous. I definitely had my chances.”


In 1968, just weeks after reaching the semifinals of an Eastern tournament, German was sent to Vietnam, where he served as a Navy physician for the Marine Corps. One day in 1969, his battalion came under heavy fire, sustaining multiple casualties. Amid the chaos, German gathered up his medical supplies and rushed into the field to attend to the injured Marines until they could be safely evacuated, even as grenade explosions and gunfire continued all around him. For his bravery and focus during the event, he was awarded the Bronze Star.


When he returned from the war, he briefly resumed his tennis career. He competed in the National Men’s Championship at Forest Hills in 1970 and made the quarterfinals of the New York State Championships, where he lost to Vitas Gerulaitis.


“I tried to get back into that system, but being out for almost two years, it was not as easy [when I came back],” he says. “I probably was a step behind what I was before I went to Vietnam.”


And now that he was a medical resident, he could not commit the time to tournaments as much as he could in his twenties. At age 35, he started to play senior events in the Eastern Section,

and continued to contest matches on the circuit over the next 30 years. He was particularly strong in the 55 & Over Division, where he achieved the No. 1 ranking in the section and made the semifinals of the National Public Parks Championships.


Today, German—who’s still practicing medicine in Huntington, N.Y.—tries to play socially a couple times a week. Tennis continues to run in his family. He met his wife on a tennis court. Like him, one of his daughters played for Princeton, and another was offered a spot on the Tulane team. German and his son still compete in Father-Son tournaments.


“I have to say I have always enjoyed playing,” he says of his life in the sport. “I played almost all of the top guys in my era, a lot of them who are in the Hall of Fame. I always liked the competition, and I always seemed to be in the mix. The game fit me well.”



When it comes to making an impact both on and off the court, few have contributed more than Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss. 


On the court, King was ranked No. 1 in the world in both singles and doubles, won 39 Grand Slam titles (12 singles, 16 doubles, 11 mixed) for third on the all-time list, and is the first woman to earn more than $100,000 in prize money in a single year. In 1970, she was a leading member of the “Original 9,” a trailblazing group of nine women who took a stand for gender equality in tennis and are responsible for creating the women’s pro tour and bringing more prize money to the women’s game. Three years later, King defeated former men’s No. 1 Bobby Riggs in the famous “Battle of the Sexes” match, which was considered a major moment for women’s rights in sports. 


King received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the US Open honored her by renaming its facility the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Later, she became the first woman to have an annual global team sports event named after her, when the Fed Cup was rechristened the Billie Jean King Cup. She has also been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame twice—in 1987 for her legendary career, and this past July as a member of the Original 9. 


Kloss has many on-court accolades of her own. The South-African born lefty was the No. 1 doubles player in the world in 1976 and reached a career-high singles ranking of No. 19 in 1979. She won two Grand Slam titles in 1976—the US Open women’s doubles and French Open mixed titles—and is a two-time Wimbledon over-35 doubles champion. She also won the girls’ singles titles at 1972 Wimbledon and the 1974 US Open before turning pro. Kloss captured the gold medal at the 1973 Maccabiah Games and was inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

While King and Kloss are in the history books for their on-court accomplishments, their off-court achievements are every bit as extraordinary. Together, the couple of more than 40 years has made it their life’s work to fight for social change and equality for all. They have advocated on behalf of women and the LGBTQ community through a variety of joint ventures, making a positive impact globally in sports and in the workplace. 


“Billie and I are a team in business and in life,” Kloss says. “We have worked on many projects together, from World TeamTennis to the Women’s Sports Foundation to the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative and beyond. It’s an amazing journey, and as Billie Jean likes to say, we’re not done yet.” 


“It helps that we frequently have the same vision, but we often have different paths to the solution,” King says. “We like to talk things through, gather information and move forward. But Ilana is the one who leads and makes it all happen.” 


In 1974, King co-founded World TeamTennis, the co-ed pro tennis league with a team format in which men and women have equal roles.  Many of the greatest names in tennis have competed in WTT over the years, from Rod Laver, John McEnroe and Pete Sampras to Chris Evert, the Williams sisters and Kim Clijsters. 


“World TeamTennis is a product that mirrors life, with men and women working together as a team,” says Kloss, who served as CEO and commissioner of the league from 2001-18. “Today, more than ever, your role is not defined by gender. For more than four decades, WTT has helped take tennis to the people, bringing our product to markets that might not ever have had professional tennis. At the grassroots level, people love playing on a team with their friends.” 


King founded the Women’s Sports Foundation, also in 1974, to help girls and women achieve their full potential in sports. She and Kloss are WSF board members, and Kloss is a past chair at the organization. In 2014, the couple launched the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to equality and inclusion in the workplace.


“At the WSF, I’m so proud of the contributions we’ve made to generations of women pursuing their athletic dreams, and I’m so proud of our role as the guardians of Title IX [a landmark civil rights law passed in 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in all federally funded school programs],” King says. “At BJKLI, we are moving the needle on discussions in corporations, getting companies to look closely and seriously at equity, equality and inclusion. We’re just starting to scratch the surface in this space, and there is so much more impactful work to be done.” 


Through their efforts, progress has been made, but both King and Kloss say there’s still a way to go and that they’ll continue the fight until there is equality for all. 


“We’re making progress, but we’re not truly equal,” says King, whose autobiography, “All In,” came out on August 17. “Specifically, marriage equality, adoption by same-sex couples and employment protections have improved, but there’s more to do. I would like to see employment protections as a federal law, like marriage equality and LGBTQ adoption, instead of regulated on a state-by-state basis. I won’t rest until we are equal.” 


Adds Kloss: “Creating opportunities for others and hopefully inspiring all genders to live their authentic lives and be the best they can be is what drives us. There are no limits in life. If you can dream it, you can be it.”



Dr. Emily Moore is a Long Island-based educator and activist. In the 1970s, she founded the Alliance Junior Tennis Development Program which introduced the sport to thousands of local kids. Through her efforts, many of her children went on to compete in tournaments across the country as well as obtain tennis scholarships for college. A lot of these students may not have discovered the joysof the game were it not for Moore’s programming.


The foundation of this work was set at an early age. A gifted athlete, Moore competed in hockey, soccer and basketball at Freeport High School in Freeport, N.Y. and was voted Most Athletic Female. Outside of school, she played on a softball team and learned tennis in the park.


“Sports were really my teacher, my survival growing up,” she says.


Even then, she understood the lessons sports could provide. A career in physical education seemed like a natural fit. In 1961, she headed to Morgan State University—an HBCU in Baltimore, Maryland—to pursue her degree. Students at the college took an active role in leading the Civil Rights Movement in the city, and Moore spent many of her weekends at demonstrations. Shewas one of 11 students arrested and thrown into prison for refusing to leave a segregated theater. The jail wanted $600 for bail money, an outrageous amount that even exceeded the tuition for Morgan State at the time. She and her fellow students stayed in jail for a week. Their efforts gained national attention, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came out to support them.


This wouldn’t be Moore’s last brush with events of historical significance. Later, after graduating from Morgan State in 1965, she joined the Peace Corps and taught health and physical education (including tennis) in Nigeria for two years. There, she lived through civil war and three military coups—one of which occurred just as she was landing in the country.


“We saw them marching, running around the airport with their M-16s,” she says. “They didn’t touch the American airlines. But [from then on] we always knew we had to be careful.”


In 1967, the civil unrest became too dangerous, and Moore and others were forced to pack up quickly and evacuate. They found themselves stuck on a barge for three whole days before they could escape.


“We finished the water and food on the first day,” she recalls. “We heard shots, and we were on a flat barge. Where can you duck and hide?”


These moments helped form the crux of Moore’s central philosophy as she returned to the states, where she earned a Master’s Degree in education and counseling from Hofstra University in 1972 and embarked on a teaching career that would eventually span five decades. (Her students, incidentally, included former basketball player Julius “Dr. J” Erving and actor/comedian Eddie Murphy.)

“You learn that in life there are going to be challenges,” she explains. “There are going to be difficult situations. And you have to figure out how you’re going to survive it, how you’re going to educate yourself, and also, how you’re going to win.”


With Alliance, Moore aimed to not only teach kids how to swing a racquet, but also how to rise to the occasion to face these challenges. Exercising discipline, developing leadership qualities and maintaining respect for others, she says, were just as integral lessons as learning the proper way to hit a forehand.


Officially, Moore founded Alliance in 1975—at least that’s when the first newspaper article on her work appeared. She estimates she informally set up shop in a park in Roosevelt, N.Y. even further back than that, encouraging young park goers to come on court and try out the sport.

Some of her colleagues were skeptical that kids would be interested in learning the game, but she faced the challenge and proved them wrong. As the program grew and she started fundraising, Moore was able to bring some of her students to the US Open, and she also traveled with them across the country as they competed in national tournaments. Importantly, beyond the competitions, these trips always contained an educational element.


“I’m a historian,” Moore says. “Whatever state we’re going to, [the kids] are going to have to know something about it. So we’d have an educational day to go and visit the sites after the tournaments were over. We visited colleges like Morehouse in Atlanta, Norfolk in Virginia. And a lot of them went on to those schools. So through tennis, they were exposed [to these things].”


This is what makes Moore most proud of the work that she’s done through Alliance—that so many of her children, as she calls them, have grown up, attended great schools and gone on to become equally great citizens.


“They’ve all graduated from colleges, from Howard to Morgan State to Harvard to MIT,” she says. “I told them you can go and be anything you want to be. I’ve got a group of kids who are doctors and lawyers. I’m proud that I’ve trained young people to become leaders and teachers of the world. I let them know from the beginning that we compete in a world with seven continents. It’s about ‘How can I help make a contribution to society?’ Not going through life and saying ‘What’s in it for me?’”


For all her efforts, Moore has been given a plethora of accolades. Arthur Ashe honored her with his Junior Tennis Development Award in 1988, and she also received the Outstanding Citizen Contribution To Improve Education from the Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Honors. In 2015, she was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from her alma mater, Morgan State University.


“All my life people said, ‘How are you going to do this?’” she says when reflecting on her legacy. “I heard so many can’ts, I can’t believe it. My mother always said, ‘Try your best, do your best.’ Not every experience is going to be beautiful, but we will strive for excellence, to be the best we can be.”

HOF 2021 Cover.png
Click to see the original 2021 program.
bottom of page