Althea Gibson is a former tennis player. Gibson was the very first African-American woman to compete in the world of tennis and the first to score a Grand Slam title! Read Althea Gibson’s biography and see video below.
A former tennis player, Althea Gibson made history when she became the first African American women to break record after record in the game! She was a legend in her time and is a 1971 Tennis Hall of Famer. Learn more more about Althea Gibson below and see photos here.
As a biography, Althea Gibson was born on August 25, 1927 in Silver, South Carolina. Raised in a low income household in Harlem, New York, Gibson ran away from home quite frequently. Although she had problems academically, the former tennis star excelled in golf, basketball and table tennis. She is a 1953 graduate of Florida A&M University.
Althea was officially introduced to the game at a young age by Musician Buddy Walker. After seeing her play table tennis, he decided to introduce her to the Harlem River Tennis Courts. In 1946 she made the move from New York to Wilmington, North Carolina to begin her training. A year later she won ten national championships by the American Tennis Association.
Finally in 1950 Althea was able to compete in the U.S. Championships after Alice Marble, an American tennis star, drew light to the situation when she wrote an editorial in the American Lawn Tennis Magazine. Marble stated:
“Miss Gibson is over a very cunningly wrought barrel, and I can only hope to loosen a few of its staves with one lone opinion. If tennis is a game for ladies and gentlemen, it’s also time we acted a little more like gentle people and less like sanctimonious hypocrites…. If Althea Gibson represents a challenge to the present crop of women players, it’s only fair that they should meet that challenge on the courts.”
Soon after, the color of Althea Gibson’s skin didn’t matter and she was able to compete. From there, Gibson’s career was on fire. She won the 1955 Italian Championships, nabbed her first Grand Slam titles and won a title at Wimbledon. A two time winner of the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year, Gibson was also one of the World top ten tennis players in her time.
After retiring, Althea spent the rest of her life recording an album, writing her autobiography, working as the New Jersey state commissioner of athletics and playing golf as a member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association. Althea Gibson died on September 28, 2003 from respiratory failure.
More photos and a video of Althea Gibson are below.