It’s National Play Tennis Day.

And while it’s way too snowy where I live to grab a racket and head to a court, it is a good time to talk about one of the great early stars of women’s tennis, who was also a great early star of women’s basketball: Ora Washington.

She was born in Virginia in the late 1890s.

By the 1920s, she had moved north to Philadelphia, and took up tennis.

Not long after she started playing, she started winning big: eight national singles titles, 12 national women’s doubles titles, three national mixed doubles titles.

She was so good that at one point she retired, then came back out of retirement a couple years later and soundly defeated the player who had won the national title in her absence.

But that wasn’t all.

Ora Washington was also a renowned basketball player, leading two teams to 11 championships.

Today, she would be a massive superstar.

And while Ora Washington was a superstar in Black newspapers, which called her “Queen Ora,” she wasn’t well known to the rest of the country.

She competed when sports were often segregated; white tennis stars not only didn’t play against her, they claimed they didn’t know who she was.

Women athletes weren’t often as big names as men; in fact, Washington had to hold down a day job as a housekeeper even during her playing days.

And some of Washington’s relatives told the BBC that she likely faced additional prejudice for being gay.

But recognition has finally come for Ora Washington.

She is now a member of multiple halls of fame including the Basketball Hall of Fame; she’s been the subject of books and podcasts and she has her own historical marker in Philadelphia.

And none other than Arthur Ashe once said Ora Washington may have been the best female athlete ever.

This weekend in Edison, Washington, the annual Edison Chicken Parade.

It’s not just celebrating chickens, everybody who’s in the parade dresses up like a chicken, or holds a chicken, or dresses up like some other kind of bird.

Then they cluck and peck their way through downtown.

Sounds egg-ceptional.

Long before Serena Williams, there was Ora Washington. Few remember her. (Washington Post)

The Nearly Forgotten History Of Basketball HOF Inductee Ora Washington (WBUR’s Only A Game)

The Edison Chicken Parade is a must-see event (KING 5)

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Photo by John W. Mosely – Temple University Libraries, Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, CC0, via Wikicommons