Courtesy of Black Past

"What Jackie Robinson did for baseball by being in the Brooklyn Dodgers’s starting lineup at first base on April 15, 1947, Althea Gibson did for tennis when she made her historic debut, defeating Barbara Knapp, 6-2, 6-2, in the first round." -International Tennis Hall of Fame

432: Althea Gibson

Groundbreaking Tennis and Golf Player

Born: 25 August 1927, Silver, South Carolina, United States of America

Died: 28 September 2003, East Orange, New Jersey, United States of America

In 1956, Althea became the first African American person to win a Grand Slam Title, effectively abolishing the color barrier in tennis. Just six years earlier, in 1950, she became the first person of African Origin to compete at the US Nationals (in tennis).

She was also the first African American to win the Wimbledon Title and the French and US Open Titles, which was also groundbreaking for people of color at the time. And she did it more than once, winning Wimbledon and the US Nationals in both 1956 and 1958.

Althea even became the first African American to enter the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour.

If that isn’t enough, Althea was also the first African American to make the cover of both Time Magazine and Sports Illustrated.

In 1958, she published her autobiography entitled, I Always Wanted to be Somebody.

In later life she served as the Commissioner of Athletics for the state of New Jersey and was entered into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971. She also coached up and comers into the tennis world after retiring from the sport herself.

Badges Earned:

Find a Grave Marked

Located In My Personal Library:

The Book of Awesome Women: Boundary Breakers, Freedom Fighters, Sheroes, and Female Firsts by Becca Anderson

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History Edited By Bonnie G Smith