Robert Walter Johnson
|Robert Walter Johnson|
16 April 1899|
Norfolk, Virginia, USA
|Died||28 June 1971
Lynchburg, Virginia, USA
|Fields||Internal medicine, sports medicine|
|Institutions||Lynchburg General Hospital|
|Alma mater||Lincoln University, Pennsylvania
Meharry Medical College
Robert Walter Johnson (April 16, 1899 – June 28, 1971) was an American physician and founder of the American Tennis Association Junior Development Program for African-American youths, where he coached and fostered the careers of tennis greats, Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson.
Known as the "godfather" of black tennis, Johnson founded an all-expenses-paid tennis camp for African-American children and hired instructors. In these years in the segregated South, they had no public courts where they could learn tennis, and many did not have money for lessons. Johnson was instrumental in encouraging the athletic careers of both Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe, whom he personally coached.
Legacy and honors
- Johnson was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1972.
- Johnson was nominated as a contributor in 2007 for the International Tennis Hall of Fame and would later be inducted with the Class of 2009.
- His home and training center, the Dr. Robert Walter Johnson House and Tennis Court, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
- The Walter Johnson Health Center, a large medical care and community health education center in downtown Lynchburg, Virginia, was named in his honor.
- The Dr. Robert Walter Johnson Memorial Invitational, Petersburg, Virginia
- "Heritage Sites & Organizations; Dr. Robert Walter Johnson Home and Tennis Court". The Virginia African American Heritage Program. Retrieved 2007-08-14.
- Smith, Doug (August 2004). Whirlwind: The Godfather of Black Tennis: The Life and Times of Dr. Robert Walter Johnson. Blue Eagle Publishing. ISBN 0-9748111-0-6.
- Carter, Bob. "Ashe's impact reached far beyond the court". ESPN Classic. Retrieved 2007-06-30.
- "Robert Johnson Virginia Sports Hall of Fame". The Library of Virginia. Retrieved 2015-05-02.
- ""Robert Walter Johnson Tennis Hall of Fame"". International Tennis Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2015-05-02.
- "Practice Information: Lynchburg--Walter Johnson Health Center". The University of Virginia Health System. Retrieved 2007-08-14.[dead link]
- VSU Athletics (2008). "Second Annual Dr. Robert Walter Johnson Memorial Invitational" (.PDF). Virginia State University. Retrieved 2015-05-02.