28 Aug Althea Gibson, Who Smashed Through Racial Barriers in Tennis, Honored With Statue at U.S. Open
Over the course of her staggering career, Althea Gibson vanquished barrier after barrier standing in the way of African-American tennis players. In 1950, she became the first African-American to compete in the U.S. National Championships, the precursor to the U.S. Open. The 1956 French Championships saw her become the first African-American to win a Grand Slam title. In 1957, she won the women’s singles at Wimbledon, marking yet another first. Elizabeth II presented her with a trophy.
In spite of Gibson’s remarkable accomplishments, and the pivotal role that she played in the desegregation of her chosen sport, she has been honored with relatively few formal tributes—one exception being “a seniors cup in Croatia” that bears her name, as Sally H. Jacobs of the New York Times notes. But that changed in a major way this week, when the United States Tennis Association (USTA) unveiled a large sculpture of Gibson outside the Arthur Ashe Stadium at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York.