Former Wimbledon finalist Zina Garrison, who lost in the 1990 Wimbledon singles final to Martina Navratilova, spoke about the lack of sponsorship deals for her during her career and her views on the Black Lives Matter movement in an interview to The Guardian.
Zina Garrison on dealing with racism
In her interview to The Guardian, Garrison, a former World No. 4, says she was able to sign a deal with Reebok only the night before her Wimbledon final loss to Martina Navratilova in 1990 - that was the only Grand Slam final she reached in her career.
“For five years, even when I made it to top four in the world, I still had no deal. I was very aware of what was going on and I was always told: ‘If you make it to this ranking, you’ll get a deal. If you make it to this [round],’ you know? You had white girls behind me, they’re making way more money and their ranking or consistency wasn’t even there."
The Black Lives Matter movement has been in the news of late and several tennis players have spoken up to highlight the issue. “We can’t focus on what someone’s going to give us or not give us. All we can do is be there for [so long] that you can’t deny it”.
Garrison has taken up the issue of racial discrimination herself in the past, when she filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the USTA, saying that she was paid lesser than the Davis Cup coach, Patrick McEnroe, and her successor, Mary Joe Fernández.
The lawsuit was eventually settled with the USTA in 2009. "I was told at the time: ‘That doesn’t really happen.’ No one would really back me up. People in the background would tell me stories but nobody was willing to come to the rescue.
There were only two people in that time getting ready to go on record and that was Billie Jean King and Venus Williams. It’s been tough for me … Things have improved but sometimes people get a misconception because you have a couple of top black players and they say: ‘Well, it’s not bad, look at Venus and Serena.’ Just because you have a couple that it has been solved”.
Zina Garrison was also a three-time Grand Slam mixed doubles champion, and a women's doubles gold medalist and singles bronze medalist at the 1988 Olympic Games.