Tennis has moved out of the country club in recent | years, but it remains a sport heavily tilted in favor of players who grew up with money. Zina Garrison, a hard-luck 26-year-old who learned to play on a Houston playground, struck a democratic blow last week with a shocker upset of top-ranked Steffi Graf in the Wimbledon semifinals, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. After a hard-fought first game, she succumbed to the unsinkable Martina Navratilova in the finals, 64, 6-1, giving the 33 year-old veteran a record ninth Wimbledon singles title. But even while falling short, Garrison left the tennis world with a memorable taste of grit, advancing further than any black woman since Althea Gibson in 1958.
For years, Garrison has been stopped just short of center court, lacking that last winning instinct required of all top-seeded players. Her personal setbacks have been considerable, from the death of both parents to a bout with bulimia. Now they merely underline how far she has come. Despite her much-expected loss in the finals, Zina broke through last week. And Houston wasn't the only place that smiled.