Althea Gibson became the first African-American competitor in a national tennis competition on August 22, 1950.

She was born in South Carolina and raised in Harlem by a poor family. Dr. Walter Johnson, a man from Virginia who wanted to bring tennis to the African-American community noticed her.

The United States Lawn Tennis Association hosted the competition in Forest Hills, New York. That was only the beginning for Gibson. Her rise to stardom let her compete with the pros. Her career took her to a number of important national and international competitions. Her heard work paid off when she started winning them.

The United States Open was won by Gibson in 1957 and 58. She took the French Open 1956. Her athleticism was proven when she won Wimbledon in 1957 and 58.

In 1957 Gibson was named “Female Athlete of the Year” by the Associated Press, and was the first African-American to earn the title.

After her retirement she became a tennis instructor for pro athletes like Arthur Ashe. She is known for paving the way for the African-American community in tennis. Her autobiography called “I Always Wanted to Be Somebody” was released in 1958, to help inspire people to be the best they can be.

“I always wanted to be somebody. If I made it, it’s half because I was game enough to take a lot of punishment along the way and half because there were a lot of people who cared enough to help me.” -Althea Gibson


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