Garrison sues USTA for discrimination

NEW YORK -- Former Fed Cup captain Zina Garrison is suing the U.S. Tennis Association, saying she was discriminated against because she is black.

In the lawsuit filed Thursday in Manhattan federal court, Garrison says she was treated unfairly because she was paid a lower salary than Davis Cup coach Patrick McEnroe, wasn't given a multiyear deal equivalent to McEnroe's and subjected to higher performance standards than he was.

Garrison's suit also claims her replacement, Mary Joe Fernandez, was given a given a higher salary than she was despite little coaching experience at the national level.

The USTA announced in December 2007 that 2008 would be Garrison's final season at the helm and Fernandez would take over in 2009.

Garrison, the first black captain of the U.S. Fed Cup team, replaced Billie Jean King in 2004 and was not brought back after going 5-5 over five seasons, losing in the semifinals four times and the quarterfinals once.

"The USTA takes all allegations of discrimination seriously and takes pride in its numerous diversity initiatives and achievements," USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said. "The USTA elected not to renew Ms. Garrison's Fed Cup captaincy based on her performance, and strongly denies any allegation of discrimination asserted by Ms. Garrison.

"During Ms. Garrison's five-year tenure as captain, the United States Fed Cup team did not advance to the Fed Cup final, it's longest drought in the competition's 45-year history."

As a player, Garrison was the 1990 Wimbledon runner-up, becoming the first black woman since Althea Gibson in 1958 to reach a Grand Slam singles final. She was ranked in the top 10 from 1983-90, peaking at No. 4, and played on eight Fed Cup teams from 1984-94, going 22-5 and helping win three titles.