Widely regarded as one of the most talented athletes in the United States, Althea Gibson overcame extreme racism to break barriers in tennis and pave the way for talented athletes of all races to compete equally.
Born in South Carolina, she moved to Harlem at the age of three. After being given a tennis racquet at the age of 13, Gibson displayed such talent that she was invited to become an honorary member of the elite Cosmopolitan Tennis Club.
In 1942, at the age of 15, Althea began playing in the American Tennis Association (ATA) and won the first tournament she ever entered. The ATA was a counterpart to the United States Lawn Tennis Association (now the USTA), which did not allow African American players to enter tournaments at the time.
In 1957, Gibson became the first African American to win the All-England Championships at Wimbledon and the U.S. National Tennis Championships at Forest Hills, forever changing the face of tennis. She repeated these feats in 1958.
After retiring from tennis, Gibson went on to play professional golf, again smashing barriers by becoming the first African American to earn her LPGA card.
Althea Gibson’s tremendous feats continue to inspire generations of athletes from all races and walks of life.