Althea Gibson: An Incredible Pioneer

BlogHer Original Post

The US Open tennis tournament starts tomorrow in New York City. As part of the opening night festivities, the USTA is going to present a tribute to Althea Gibson on the 50th anniversary of her ground-breaking win at the US Open. Prominent black women like Carol Mosely Braun, astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, Aretha Franklin and athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee and others will be involved in the tribute.

Althea was the first black, man or woman to not only win the US Open, but Wimbledon as well. This was at a time when many tennis clubs would not even allow her into their clubs, much less play there. She was known for her powerful serves, her superior court sense and more importantly her ability to handle the adversity she faced daily as a black American in the uniformly white world of tennis.

She was never able to cash in on her accomplishments, because she came along long before the large cash purses of today. She died at the age of 76 in East Orange, New Jersey having for the last years of her life to accept financial aid from friends like Billie Jean King and former New York City Mayor David Dinkins.

So, whether you're a tennis fan or not, tune in tomorrow night at 7PM to USA Cable's coverage of the opening night tribute to Althea Gibson and learn more about this great American woman.

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