Image courtesy of: Fannie Walker Week

There are a lot of women who’ve made some tremendous strides in history and are continually paving the way and making our society better. Although women’s month salutes all women of all backgrounds here at The Narrative Matters, we want to ensure that we highlight and report on Black women and women of color who may not get the recognition in mainstream media. Therefore, it’s our pleasure to highlight Margaret and Matilda Peters. 

Countless articles about Venus and Serena Williams, the famous tennis sisters. Although there’s been a contrast between the Williams sisters and the Peters sisters, you can’t compare the women. The Peters sisters came up in an era of American apartheid that enforced segregation in the laws of that day. Cara Chards (May 12, 2022) reports that the Peters sisters were born in the Georgetown district of Washington D.C. in 1915 and 1917, respectively. Margaret and Matilda Peters were legendary women tennis players who took the world by storm at a very early age. 

Their fame was from the 1930s to the 1950s. They were very passionate about tennis and had unique talents. Margaret and Matilda have also dedicated students. While in high school, they were discovered by a tennis coach from the Tuskegee Institute. The coach Cleve Abbott decided to offer the Peters sisters a four-year scholarship for college to impulse their tennis careers. This was rare for women athletes.

Both Margaret and  Matilda decided to wait to go to college simultaneously to experience their budding tennis careers. It has been said through the literature that the two sisters were nicknamed “Pete” and “Repeat” for their doubles playing skills and last name. The Peters Sisters attended Tuskegee University in 1937. Segregation laws did not allow African Americans to compete against Whites, so the Peters sisters played in the American Tennis Association (ATA), which was created to give Black  Americans a forum to play tennis competitively. 

 Fitzgerald (July 8, 2018) reports that in college, “both sisters played basketball and tennis, but they were best known for their doubles play in tennis and were exceptionally good at moves such as “slice serve” and “chop shots,” and had powerful backhands.” While in college, they played in the American Tennis Association, ATA, tournaments. The ATA is the Black American tennis league that still exists today. They both graduated from Tuskegee in 1941 with degrees in physical education.”

After graduating from Tuskegee University, they both continued to play tennis in the American Tennis Association. The sisters won 14 Doubles Tennis titles between 1938 and 1953.  They were never allowed to compete against that era’s great White Doubles Players. By the 1960s and beyond, when segregation in tennis started to dismantle, the Peters sisters were past their prime.

 They were never able to compete in racially integrated matches. Nevertheless, Margaret and Matilda Peters were inducted into the Tuskegee Hall of Fame in 1977. They also received their master’s degree in physical education from NYU after graduating from Tuskegee. Matilda married James Walker in 1957, and they had two children. Matilda taught at Howard University in the 1950s and then at the Washington Public School System from 1964 to 1981. The Narrative Matters!


Cara Chards, M. (May 12, 2022). Margaret and Matilda Peters: the black sisters that dominated tennis in segregation times.

Fitzgerald, N. (July 8, 2018).

Photo Credit: Breaking Barriers – International Tennis Hall of Fame (

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