Contact Althea Gibson Althea Gibson was a tennis player and later professional golfer who became the first African American woman to cross the racial barrier and compete professionally in both sports. She was born on August 25, in South Carolina. Her family was under severe financial duress due to the Great Depression, and moved to Harlem to find better work and support themselves.
Althea Gibson broke the color barrier in the world of tennis in the s. She was the first black athlete ever to compete in a United States national championship match, and went on to win both the U. An entire generation passed before another African American woman attained such ranks in the sport.
Born to South Carolina sharecropper parents inshe grew up in Harlem, the largely African—American section of New York City, where her father found work as a garage attendant. Gibson took up the game at the age of nine, and three years later won the city paddle tennis title. Impressed by her natural athleticism, a PAL volunteer brought her to the Cosmopolitan Tennis Club inwhich was a local tennis facility open to both blacks and whites.
Gibson improved quickly under her coach at the Cosmopolitan, but was rebellious at home.
She often defied her parents by skipping school and even staying out all night, and finally ran away from home.
After a stint in a Roman Catholic shelter for teenaged girls, she became a ward of the city and was given a small rent stipend to live on her own. She was forced to take menial jobs to make ends meet but continued with her athletic training, and in won the first tennis tournament she ever entered.
Inat the age of 19, Gibson was put in contact with two affluent black physicians, who sponsored both her and another promising young tennis player named Arthur Ashe.
She continued to compete in ATA events, winning ten national championship titles in a row, and her prowess earned her a measure of media attention. But USTA officials declared that first Gibson must compete in a preliminary event—the catch being that organizers of such an event would have to extend an invitation.
Gibson made her debut on the courts of Forest Hills on August 28, She did well, very nearly unseating the current Wimbledon champion at the time, Louise Brough. The next year Gibson advanced all the way to Wimbledon, the legendary English event, but lost in the quarterfinals.
She was feted with a ticker—tape parade in New York City when she returned, and went on to win the U. Open that summer as well.
Hailed in the press as a pioneering black athlete and inspiration to the civil—rights movement, Gibson was nevertheless wary of being linked to any cause.
She won Wimbledon again in as well as the U. She turned pro soon afterward, playing exhibition matches at the halftime shows of Harlem Globetrotters games.
Gibson served as New Jersey state athletic commissioner untiland recreation director for her town of East Orange. Twice married, she had no children, and suffered a series of financial setbacks in her later years, but supporters rallied to help her once again when her plight became public knowledge.
Remarkably, her feat at Wimbledon was not repeated untilwhen Zina Garrison became the second black woman in history to make it the finals there. Gibson suffered strokes in her later years and was rarely seen in public after She died on September 28,at the age of 76 in an East Orange hospital following treatment for an infection and a respiratory ailment.
She is survived by a brother and a sister, as well as by the Foundation bearing her name that she helped establish that provides athletic and educational opportunities to urban youth.
Chicago Tribune, September 29,sec. A21; New York Times, September 29,p. A21, October 2,p. A2; People, October 13,p.Sep 12, · Watch video · Trailblazing athlete Althea Gibson became the first great African-American player in women’s tennis.
Raised primarily in Harlem section of New York City, she won a string of American Tennis. Althea Gibson Biography - Althea Gibson was a tennis player and later professional golfer who became the first African American woman to cross the racial barrier and compete profess. Althea Gibson is likely the most important African American athlete in the history of professional sport.
Althea Gibson (August 25, – September 28, ) was a World No. 1 American sportswoman who became the first African-American woman to be a competitor on the world tennis tour and the first to win a Grand Slam title in Althea Gibson Biography ; the first tennis tournament she ever entered. That title, the New York junior women's, was granted by the American Tennis Association (ATA), an organization for black players. who sponsored both her and another promising young tennis player named Arthur Ashe. Gibson moved in with one of the families in North. Sep 12, · Watch video · Trailblazing athlete Althea Gibson became the first great African-American player in women’s tennis. Raised primarily in Harlem section of New York City, she won a string of American Tennis.
Her contributions to sport include becoming the first African American player in a major US tournament and at Wimbledon, and also the first African American LPGA player. Watch video · Althea Gibson was the first African-American tennis player to compete at the U.S. National Championships in , and the first black player to compete at Wimbledon in Althea Gibson, (born August 25, , Silver, South Carolina, U.S.—died September 28, , East Orange, New Jersey), American tennis player who dominated women’s competition in the late s.
She was the first black player to win the French (), Wimbledon (–58), and U.S. Open (–58) singles championships. Althea Gibson Biography, Life, Interesting Facts. Althea Gibson was born on August 25, She was an American professional golfer, tennis player and the first black athlete to play international tennis.
She developed the love for the sport at a tender age even though she came from a poor background.