By Harvey Araton
Straight Sets – Tennis Blog Of The New York Times
WIMBLEDON, England – Zina Garrison’s racial discrimination lawsuit against the United States Tennis Association has largely been panned in the greater American tennis community as without merit, based on her mediocre record as the United States’ Fed Cup captain from 2004 to 2008.
But in an interview Wednesday afternoon after playing in a Ladies’ Invitation Doubles match, she said she was not backing down from, and had no intention of dropping, the suit.
“What I’ll say is that it’s not what it is being made out to be,” she said. “I’m still the same person people always knew. I’m still an honest and truthful person.”
Garrison was fired after posting a 5-5 record as captain and failing to lead a nation that had been a longtime Fed Cup power to even one final, replaced by Mary Joe Fernandez. She filed the suit last February in a Manhattan federal court. It charged, among other things, different pay scales and treatment for her and Patrick McEnroe, the American Davis Cup captain, who has won one Davis Cup and had more success in getting the best American players – mainly Andy Roddick – to participate.
Her stance is that her tenure as captain began as American stars – Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati – were departing the sport, and Lindsay Davenport, a standby when Billie Jean King was captain, was tiring of the commitment. That left Venus and Serena Williams as the only imposing American players.
Venus Williams, a good friend of Garrison’s, often committed, but Serena Williams seldom played.
Asked if she believes, in retrospect, that she, as an African-American, was hired to entice the Williams sisters to play and not based on her coaching ability, Garrison nodded. Hence, her charge of racial discrimination, given her belief that her job security was largely based on the U.S.T.A.’s expectation that African-American players would come through for an African-American captain.
“That’s pretty accurate,” Garrison said.