Continuing with Women’s History Month, we highlight a woman who made history during her time on Earth. Althea Gibson was an American tennis player, who was the first black athlete to cross the color line of international tennis. She became the first woman of color in 1956 to win a Grand Slam title and the following year, she won the Wimbledon and the U.S Open then won both titles again in 1958. She was voted “Female Athlete of the Year” by the Associated Press both years.
Gibson finished her career with 11 Grand Slam tournaments, adding six double titles. As a result, she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall Of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Hall Of Fame. She also was the first black player to compete on the women’s professional golf tour. Gibson passed away in her home in East Orange, N.J. on September 23, 2003 at the age of 76.
“Her Road To Success was a challenging one,” Billie Jean King said. “I never saw her back down.”
“To anyone, she was an inspiration, because of what she was able to do at a time when it was enormously difficult to play tennis at all if you were black,” former New York City Mayor David Dinkins said.
“I am honored to have followed in such great footsteps,” Venus Williams said. “Her accomplishments set the stage for my success, and through players like myself and Serena and many others to come, her legacy will live on.”
Althea Gibson and Jackie Robinson were often compared because of the fact they were both breaking racial barriers around a time where it was awfully difficult.