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MaliVai Washington

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MaliVai Washington
  • Age: 45 (20.06.1969)
  • Birthplace: Glen Cove, NY
  • Residence: Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
  • Height: 5'11" (180 cm)
  • Weight: 175 lbs (79 kg)
  • Plays: Right-handed
  • Turned Pro: 1989
  • Website: http://www.malwashington.com
Inactive
United States

United States

As of 22.12.2014
S D
Ranking W-L Titles Prize Money
Career

High

11

26.10.1992

254-184 4 $3,239,865

Singles & Doubles combined

Career

High

172

20.04.1992

27-44 0 $3,239,865

Singles & Doubles combined

MaliVai "Mal" Washington, who possessed a game of versatile quality with no significant weaknesses and an unflappable demeanour, competed for 10 years on the major stage (1989-1999) before a left knee injury ended his pro career. He rose to a career-high No. 11 on 26 October 1992 and lifted four ATP singles titles, but his finest moment came during two magical weeks at Wimbledon in 1996.

Ranked World No. 20 Washington became the first African-American man since Arthur Ashe 21 years earlier to reach a Grand Slam singles final. He beat World No. 9 Thomas Enqvist in the second round and rallied from a 1-5 deficit in the fifth set to beat Michigan native and childhood friend Todd Martin 5-7, 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3, 10-8 in the semi-finals. Out of gas, he lost to Dutchman Richard Krajicek 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in a 94-minute final. "Ultimately in tennis, you want that elusive major - and I was in the finals of the biggest one of them all," said Washington. "I had 13 great days at Wimbledon that year, but Richard had 14. I loved playing at Wimbledon and reaching the final. But my goal was to win the title."

Washington, who lives with his wife Jennifer (married 7 December 1997) and their two children, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, is studying finance at the University of North Florida and juggles a real estate career. He has also worked as an TV analyst for ESPN. He credits his father, William, who has helped under-privileged people for over 40 years, and mother, Christine, as the "most inspirational people" in his life. His sisters, Micheala and Mashona, and his brother, Mashiska, also had pro tennis careers.

In 1994 he set up the MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation promoting academic achievement and positive life skills to youth through the game of tennis. The foundation, which has since helped over 20,000 children, raised $3 million for a 9,000-square-foot youth centre inclusive of eight tennis courts in Jacksonville, Florida, that opened in May 2008. Currently supporting around 150 children, the flagship Tennis-n-Tutoring program is an after-school youth development program that offers free homework assistance, tennis lessons and life skills classes. Visit the foundation's website.

Washington started playing tennis with his father aged five. At 18, he was awarded a scholarship to the University of Michigan and completed his sophomore season as a two-time all-American and ranked No. 1 in the country, before launching his professional career in 1989. He was named ATP Rookie Of The Year in 1990.

He broke into the Top 50 in October 1991 and remained there for the next six years. In 1992 he captured his first ATP titles at Memphis (d. Ferreira) and Charlotte (d. Mezzadri) from six finals to become the first African-American to finish in Top 20 since Ashe in 1979.

Playing in an era of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and Michael Chang, he represented United States in three Davis Cup ties between 1994 and 1997 and at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, where he reached the quarter-finals (l. to Bruguera) and with Agassi in the doubles.

In February 1997, while on Davis Cup duty against Brazil, he injured his left knee in a third-set tie-break of his 3-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(3), 6-3 win over Gustavo Kuerten. He underwent left knee surgery in Jacksonville, Florida, on 30 April, and went onto play two further Grand Slams before retiring in November 1999.

On 27 March 2010, he was presented the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Of The Year award for 2009, during the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Florida. "I didn't expect to receive the award, so it is a great honour," said Washington. "It is very humbling and recognition to the foundation’s staff and volunteers for all their efforts and financial assistance over the years." Bio: James Buddell

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