You wouldn’t think of southeast Washington, D.C., as a tennis hotbed.
But that’s slowly becoming the case thanks to Recreation Wish List Committee chief executive officer Cora Masters Barry and the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center (SETLC).
Opened in 2001, the SETLC combines academics with tennis and has assisted over 2,000 children in the Washington Highlands neighborhood.
In honor of its 10th anniversary, the Recreation Wish List Committee is hosting The Tennis Ball II gala Thursday night in the District. Tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams will both be in attendance, and Mayor Vincent C. Gray will serve as honorary chair of the event.
"Serena and I are proud to be a part of this 10th anniversary celebration as we have watched the growth of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center from its groundbreaking," Venus Williams said in a statement. "The sincere and heartfelt efforts of Ms. Barry and everyone who have contributed to the SETLC through the years mean a lot to us as we see ourselves in these children."
Despite their success, the Williams sisters have always made time for the program. They have been here many times in the 10 years since we’ve been open,” Barry told BET.com. “I met them through their mother and sister. I feel like they are surrogate nieces to me. More importantly though, the center is located in an area much like Compton or South Central Los Angeles, and it’s an amazing facility in the middle of a community that at that time didn’t get those kind of buildings. It’s reminiscent of their beginnings and background."
(Photo: AP Photo/Michael Probst)