Happy birthday Althea Gibson

Groundbreaking athlete Althea Gibson was born on August 25, 1927.

A member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Althea Gibson won 11 Grand Slam tournaments. She was also the first black athlete to break the color barrier in international tennis.

In Qualifying Times: Points of Change in U.S. Women’s Sport Jaime Schultz writes. . .

African Americans attempted to cross tennis’s color line throughout the twentieth century. In 1925 Philadelphia Tribune columnist Edgar Brown predicted that “in less than twenty years. . . . a black man whose ancestors have withstood the burning suns of Africa and whose foreparents have withstood, bare-handed, the long season of backbending in American cotton fields will be crowned world’s champion just as Jack Johnson earned that other drown on that hot afternoon in Reno.” He was wrong on two counts: it took twenty-six years, and the first USLTA black tennis champion was not a man, but a woman—Althea Gibson.

As her tennis career wound down Gibson did not stop making history. In 1964 she also became the first black competitor on the women’s professional golf tour.


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