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Title IX

Brienne Minor reflects on 45th anniversary of Title IX

NCAA tennis champion thanks those who fought for opportunities for women

On May 29, Brienne Minor won the NCAA Division I singles tennis championship, becoming the first African-American woman to win the event since the organization began recognizing women’s tennis in 1982. That NCAA recognition came 10 years after the June 23, 1972, passage of Title IX, a federal law that states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Although Title IX was enacted 26 years before she was born, Minor still appreciates the people who paved the way for her athletic success.

I’m going to be honest: I don’t have a lot of knowledge about Title IX, which has its 45th anniversary on Friday. I really can’t comprehend the fact that there were women in this country who were limited in their involvement in athletics just because of gender.

What I do know is that the federal law has been important in allowing opportunities for women. And I want to take this time to thank the people who worked behind the scenes to allow me to accomplish all that I’ve been able to do in my young career.

It’s hard for me to imagine that there was a time where women weren’t given equal chances when it came to activities in school. For me, I’m grateful that I was lucky enough to have participated in organized tennis at a young age, which led me to receive the chance to play at Michigan.

There weren’t any obstacles when I played due to gender. Unlike the people who faced challenges before Title IX, I always received encouragement every step of the way from my friends, my tennis clubs and my university. I was never told there were limitations on what I could do because I was a girl.

You hear about some girls who do face those obstacles. They’re told that, because they are a girl, there are things they can’t accomplish. I’m lucky I never had to face that type of negativity.

Even though they didn’t play tennis in college, I still credit the Williams sisters for helping open doors, especially Serena. I know how much hate they received, how many rude messages were directed at them and how people would boo them because of their skin color or just because they were women.

They faced so much hatred throughout their careers and have done well. It’s just incredible that they were able to ignore everything that was going on around them and let their tennis do the talking. Women’s tennis is pretty much on the same level as men’s tennis because of the Williams sisters.

But the biggest credit goes to my family. I was dragged to a lot of tournaments as a kid because my sisters, Jasmine and Kristina, were such great players. Watching them got me interested in tennis.

My parents were also supportive, traveling all around the United States to watch me and my two sisters play. They would buy us rackets and pay for hotels, and only missed two of my college matches. Without that support we never would have been in position to receive scholarships to play tennis.

Even though I don’t know the complete history of Title IX, I realize that there were a lot of people who fought hard for me to be where I am today. There were some talented women who didn’t have chances when they were young. But they still battled so women like me could have an opportunity to compete.

For those who fought for our rights, I say thank you.

Jerry Bembry is a senior writer at Andscape. His bucket list items include being serenaded by Lizz Wright and watching the Knicks play a MEANINGFUL NBA game in June.