29 Aug First Black Tennis Player Althea Gibson Honored at U.S. Open
Long before the exploits of Arthur Ashe or the Williams sisters, Althea Gibson was achieving historic results in the previously all-white world of professional tennis. The 1957-58 AP Female Athlete of the Year, Gibson, a Florida A&M graduate, won the 1956 French Open, and both the U.S. Nationals (now the Open) and Wimbledon in 1957-58. She was the first Black player (either man or woman) to win a major title, and she won more than 50 singles and doubles titles before retiring from tennis in 1958 while still holding the number one ranking.
Gibson subsequently became a pioneer in golf, becoming the LPGA’s first full-time Black golfer in 1964. She later became state commissioner of athletics in New Jersey, and had quite a career in athletics administration until 1992. Gibson passed in 2003, and for many years lots of people inside and outside tennis wondered why there was no official recognition of someone whose accomplishments also included winning 11 major titles, especially considering that Ashe had a stadium named for him at that same U.S. Open.