The Southeast Tennis and Learning Center celebrated 20 years of service to the youth and community on Nov. 5. (Courtesy Photo)

By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. and Digital Content Editor
mgreen@afro.com

After two decades of service to the District and the City’s young people the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center (SETLC) celebrated 20 years with a jam-packed evening of entertainment that no one else in the world will ever get to experience again. 

On Nov. 5, the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center transformed into the site of a film premier, a gala venue and a place for partying. Traditionally, in the walls of SETLC’s state of the art building, one will find students studying, practicing tennis, learning lines, sewing and more.  This reporter has been in the building at times students were present, and they are dedicated to their crafts and show the beauty of what comes from investing in youth,  SETLC students are known for wowing audiences with their athleticism and performances and impressing educators and academic institutions with their scholastic achievements.

“This is our 20th anniversary. We opened up in 2001. Venus and Serena, and their mother and everybody was there,”  SETLC Founder and former First Lady Cora Masters Barry said. “For the last 20 years we have served over 30,000 young people.  Many of them have gone on to college on tennis scholarships, not one cent of tuition, or academic scholarships.  We have young people who are buyers at Neiman Marcus.  We’ve trained them through our Sew n Know program.  It’s just been amazing.  I look back at it, it’s just like it’s a snap of the finger.”

While the halls of SETLC are generally filled with learning, Hollywood came out to D.C., and covered the halls in glam.  In partnership with Warner Bros and Wilson Sporting Goods, SETLC celebrated its 20th anniversary with a screening of King Richard, the new film about Richard Williams, father to Venus and Serena Williams, starring Will Smith. 

“In celebrating [20 years], things came full circle. The movie King Richard came out, with Will Smith, who’s up for nominations from that- go Will! They are showing pre-screenings in Melbourne, Australia, Paris, France, London, England, New York, Miami, Palm Springs, and- wait for it- Southeast, Washington, D.C. And that is a function of the fact that sister is on our board, their niece is a new director, and, of course, I’m in the family as they’ve been coming for years,” Barry explained in an interview with the AFRO few days before the extravaganza.  

The film was broadcasted in the Williams Arena on the grounds of SETLC.

After the film screening, guests were treated to a night of celebration with food, drinks and great music as the GoGo Band Sirius Company performed.

For more information on the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, visit: https://dpr.dc.gov/page/southeast-tennis-and-learning-center-setlc.

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Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor