Photo by Fannie Walker Weeks & James Walker given to Friends of Rose Park
Roumania Peters Walker and Margaret Peters
Roumania Peters Walker and Margaret Peters

Peters' neighbors Catherine Bowman, Daisy Peebles, Cora and Bertha Guerra (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Peters' neighbors Catherine Bowman, Daisy Peebles, Cora and Bertha Guerra

Saturday, October 24, 2015 marked the official dedication of Rose Park Tennis Courts to Margaret and Roumania Peters Walker. Affectionately called 'Pete and Repeat,' these Georgetown sisters and trailblazing tennis stars rose to fame playing on the (then clay) courts of Rose Park in the late 1930's. 

In an era when blacks were segregated from whites in both national and international competitions, the sisters played in the American Tennis Association (ATA) national championships in Wilberforce University in Ohio. The ATA had been founded in 1916 by a group of African American businessmen, college professors, and physicians who wanted to promote the game of tennis and provide a forum for competition at the national level. The ATA provided the finest competition for blacks in the United States at the time.

Speaker after speaker touched on a personal connection to the Peters family and how their talent, sprit and commitment to the neighborhood inspired them.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (Photo by: Judith Beermann) DC Mayor Muriel Bowser

Master of Ceremonies David Dunning, President of Friends of Rose Park thanked the community, distinguished speakers and guests including DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, singling out Topher Matthews for writing about the Peters sisters over a year ago, and David Abrams who has served on the Friends of Rose Park board for 15 years.

The Hon. Jeh Johnson, Secretary, US Department of Homeland Security and David Dunning (Photo by: Judith Beermann) The Hon. Jeh Johnson, Secretary, US Department of Homeland Security and David Dunning

Reverend Adam Y. Park of Epiphany Catholic Church gave the invocation, mentioning that his church was where the Peters family worshipped then and now.

Fannie Walker Weeks and James Walker, Roumania's children shared how their mom and aunt Margaret "beat the boys" and how they "would be humbled by this honor." James told proudly the story of how his mother once played on the courts with actor Gene Kelly.

Fannie Walker Weeks and James Walker (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Fannie Walker Weeks and James Walker

Mayor Bowser talked about how her mother (sitting in the audience next to Vincent Orange) grew up in Georgetown, describing the spirit and talent of the Peters sisters as "a shining example of what young people can do."

Councilmember Jack Evans, who helped spearhead the effort to rename the tennis courts, passed on his regrets that he could not attend because his triplets were starting college.

ANC Commissioner Monica Roache, fifth generation Georgetowner who played tennis at Rose Park, and was instrumental in the naming efforts said, "This is a significant place for African-Americans ... a place that transcends senseless boundaries."

Keynote speaker Jeh Johnson, Homeland Security Secretary thanked  the Mayor of East Village David Dunning, explaining how much he and his wife Susan love Rose Park. About his terrier, Johnson added, "Andy has done more to fetilize the rose bushes ... he knows how to give back."

Distinguished speakers including Fannie Walker Weeks, James Walker, Tom Birch, Monica Roache and Jeh Johnson (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Distinguished speakers including Fannie Walker Weeks, James Walker, Tom Birch, Monica Roache and Jeh Johnson

John Stokes, Deputy Director of DC Department of Parks and Recreation noted that "this was a first, the first officially named tennis court. Before there were the Venus Sisters, there were the Peters Sisters. Bravo Friends of Rose Park."

Mrs. Bowser,mother of Muriel with Vincent Orange (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Mrs. Bowser,mother of Muriel with Vincent Orange

ANC 2E Commissioner Monica Roache (Photo by: Judith Beermann) ANC 2E Commissioner Monica Roache

David Abrams (Photo by: Judith Beermann) David Abrams

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

The plaque reads:

MARGARET PETERS and ROUMANIA PETERS WALKER

ROSE PARK TENNIS COURTS

The families of the Peters Sisters, Friends of Rose Park, DC Department of Parks & Recreation, and the City of Washington, DC are proud to name the Rose Park Tennis Courts after the Peters Sisters who grew up in this neighborhood on O Street, NW. The sisters wowed the crowds wherever they went, playing their doubles tennis from the 1940s through the 1950s. Both were recruited to play tennis at Tuskegee University and continued their tennis careers on the American Tennis Association cicruit, winning 14 doubles championships over the years. Roumania Peters Walker defeated Altea Gibson in 1946 at Wilberforce, Ohio, towin her second ATA women's singles championship. Our community is proud to honor and remember the legacy of these pioneering, African-American women from our neighborhoods.

This plaque was generously donated by the Honorable Jeh Johnson and Dr. Susan DiMarco, along with their children, Jeh and Natalie.

 

1 Comment For This Article

JoAnne Dodspn Birch

All I can say is WOW!!! Growing up in Georgetown and playing tennis made me so happy. I would not have missed Saaturday for anything. I can't think of two women who were more deserving. Even though I no longer play I will never forget my days at Rose Park Tennis Courts now renamed in the honor of the Peters Sisters. Well done!! Thanks to all who made this happen!!