​How American tennis is trying to change its white image

American tennis confronts its lack of diversi... 02:31

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Open began on Monday with all eyes on Serena Williams, who is trying to become the first person to win the Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988. But history is also being made off the court in American tennis.

Diversity in the sport is marked by legendary names: Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe -- and for the last two decades -- Venus and Serena Williams.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) also sees Elizabeth Means, 21, as one of its success stories. She's been playing at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center in Washington, D.C. since she was seven and is now playing Division I tennis on a full college scholarship.

Elizabeth Means lines up a forehand. CBS News

"I've learned focus, consistency, and also just a lot of training goes in, hard work goes into being able to learn and grow and continue to develop," said Means.

Because professional tennis remains overwhelmingly white, the USTA has been working hard to increase the diversity of players moving through its ranks.

The Southeast Tennis Center is a $30 million, 150,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility, serving thousands of kids in one of D.C.'s most challenging neighborhoods. The center is part of a USTA network of over 500 community-based programs.

"Our motto is, tennis is the hook, education is the key," said Cora Masters Barry, the founder of the center. "Tennis to me was the best sport because it holds you accountable as an individual."

Katrina Adams, left, Martin Blackman, right CBS News

In January, former tour player Katrina Adams was named the first African-American president in the 134 year history of the USTA. Adams believes facilities like the Southeast Tennis Center are vital to the growth of inner-city tennis.

Martin Blackman is the head of player development -- also the first African-American to hold that position. The two said their leadership positions are important in diversifying tennis.

"They're seeing something different," said Adams. "It's showing the world that tennis is no longer that lily-white sport."

"One of our goals is to make sure that tennis looks like America," added Blackman. "The talent that we have in the pipeline, so many great young players of color, that all bodes well for the future of the sport in this country."

It's a future the USTA hopes will produce not only the next Serena but even more Elizabeths.