Althea Gibson: Honoured for being the first African American woman to compete in the US National Championship


Althea Gibson was honoured with a sculpture on 26th August 2019 outside the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York for being the first African-American woman to compete at the US National Championship.

This comes a day after what would have been her 92nd birthday. 

Althea had an eight-year career competing in major championships and won 11 titles in the French, Australian, Wimbledon and US National tournaments. 

She entered the sporting world when racial segregation in America was at its peak. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) was against Gibson competing in the US Nationals. It took the lobbying of tennis star Alice Marble for Gibson to be considered to play.

Marble criticised the (USTA) saying: "I think it is time we faced a few facts. If tennis is a game for ladies and gentleman, it is time we acted a little more like gentle people and less like sanctimonious hypocrites."

Marble was one of very few people who supported Gibson, along with her mentor Dr. Robert Johnson. Dr Robert fought for Gibson and other African-American athletes in a system unwilling to accept them or even allow them to play.

Gibson was a trailblazer who set a path for the talented Williams' sisters and young star Coco Gauff. Unfortunately, despite the presence of more black women in the sport since Althea played, it hasn't become as diverse as we would have wished.

It has taken a long time for Gibson to be recognised as one of the best in tennis in history. But the recognition is a step forward to educate the masses about her journey.

Gibson passed away in 2003, but her legacy lives on.  

This file picture from the mid 1950's shows US ten News Now - Sport News