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Althea Gibson Biography

Lost In Harlem, "why Not Now?", Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, Attains World DominanceCONTACT INFORMATION


American tennis player

Althea Gibson once characterized herself as a "Harlem street rebel," referring to her adolescence in New York City, when she was often without direction and—more often—in various trouble. Yet the world's first African-American tennis champion remained a gadfly all her life. In the late 1950s her scrappiness and athleticism enabled her to not only shatter the segregated, insular world of tennis but also to become the sport's dominant female player. Black tennis players such as Arthur Ashe, Zina Garrison and sisters Venus Williams and Serena Williams have frequently acknowledged their debt to Gibson. (Garrison in 1990 became the first black woman since Gibson to reach the final of a Grand Slam event.) After leaving the amateur tennis circuit in 1958, Gibson met the challenge of integrating women's professional golf. She has since retired from sports, having suffered a number of strokes and additional health problems, yet athletes and activists alike continue to honor Gibson's legacy. In 1971, Gibson was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, and in 2002 was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.


Address: P.O. Box 768, East Orange, NJ 07019. Email: altheagibson@newyork.com. Online: www.altheagibson.com/.

Sketch by Jane Summer

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsTennis