In Your Ear: Zina Garrison

Tennis great Zina Garrison shares some of the music that inspires her. Garrison was the first black woman to reach the Wimbledon finals since Althea Gibson did it in the 1950s. She ranked No. 4 in the world in 1990, the year she won the French Open.

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JACKI LYDEN, Host:

This week, tennis are watching the closing rounds of the U.S. Open Tournament, and we're about to hear from a queen of the court for our occasional series In Your Ear. That's where we listen to songs that have inspired some of our program's favorite guests. Today we're hearing from Zina Garrison.

At the end of 1989, Garrison rose to her top ranking ever, number four in the world. And in 1990, she became the first black woman to reach the Wimbledon Finals since Althea Gibson in the 1950s. After leaving the game, Garrison became an ace in the arena of public service, creating her own foundation to bring tennis to inner-city kids, and at one point serving on the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Now we'll hear what songs keep her spirits in winning shape on the court and off.

ZINA GARRISON: Hi, I'm Zina Garrison and the music that's in my ear now is John Legend. And one of my favorite songs is "Wake Up" with the band Roots.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAKE UP EVERYBODY")

JOHN LEGEND: (Singing) Wake up everybody no more sleepin' in bed. No more backward thinkin'. Time for thinkin' ahead. The world has changed so very much from what it used to be. There is so much hatred, war and poverty.

GARRISON: It just really gets me in a very inspirational mood and that just gets me to want to wake up in the morning.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAKE UP EVERYBODY")

LEGEND: (Singing) You have your (unintelligible)...

(SOUNDBITE GARRISON: And another artist who I extremely love is)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BE OK")

CHRISETTE MICHELE: (Singing) I'm a take my Lexus to the mall, get a little black dress just because. Me and my boo just broke it off. I'm a be fly although he's gone. I don't really care about who he's with. I'm get mine and he'll get his. Even though I was in love with him, I really hope the best for them.

GARRISON: Love that song, because sometimes you just have a moment where you just need to tell yourself that I'm going to be okay no matter what it takes.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BE OK")

MICHELE: (Singing) I'm a be OK. I'm a be OK. I'll survive, I'll be fine, I won't cry, no way.

GARRISON: Another song I love is by Yolanda Adams, I got the "Victory."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VICTORY")

YOLANDA ADAMS: (Singing) I've got, got the victory. I've got the sweet, sweet victory in Jesus. Yes I do. He's our mighty conqueror. In him I will trust all my battles. He'll fight.

GARRISON: Oh, wow. Because I feel like each and every moment that I wake up that it's definitely a victory to start a new day with a positive attitude on life.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VICTORY")

ADAMS: (Singing) Truly I've been through the storm and rain. I know every thing about heartache and pain. But God carried me through it all without his protection I'll surely fall.

LYDEN: That was former American tennis star at Zina Garrison telling us what's playing in her ear. If you want to hear the full conversation with Zina Garrison, please go to the Programs page at npr.org. Select TELL ME MORE.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VICTORY")

ADAMS: (Singing) I got the victory. I got the sweet, sweet victory in Jesus yes I do. He is a mighty conqueror.

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