Monday, September 21, 2009
Althea Gibson was born in August 25th 1927; she was the first woman to play tennis for the United States of America.
The legendary ALTHEA GIBSON, became the first Black person (male or female) to win a Grand Slam tennis tournament after winning the French Open singles title in 1956, later won back-to-back Wimbledon singles titles in 1957 and 1958.
Also in '57 and '58, she won back-to-back United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) national singles championships.
Her career also included several doubles championships, most notably the Wimbledon women's doubles in '57 and '58 and USLTA mixed doubles in '57. Gibson retired from amateur tennis in 1958 and launched another pioneering effort in 1964 when she began her professional golf career and joined the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
Gibson won the ATA women's singles tournament ten years in a row, 1947 through 1956.
In retirement, Gibson wrote her autobiography and in 1959 recorded an album, Althea Gibson Sings, as well as appearing in the motion picture, The Horse Soldiers. In 1964, she became the first African-American woman to play in the Ladies Professional Golf Association. However, she was too old to be successful and only played for a few years.
• 1971 - National Lawn Tennis Hall of Fame
• 1971 - International Tennis Hall of Fame
• 1974 - Black Athletes Hall of Fame
• 1983 - South Carolina Hall of Fame
• 1984 - Florida Sports Hall of Fame
SELECTED ALTHEA GIBSON QUOTATIONS
• I hope that I have accomplished just one thing: that I have been a credit to tennis and my country.
• I want the public to remember me as they knew me: athletic, smart, and healthy.... Remember me strong and tough and quick, fleet of foot and tenacious.
• 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.
• I don't want to be put on a pedestal. I just want to be reasonably successful and live a normal life with all the conveniences to make it so. I think I've already got the main thing I've always wanted, which is to be somebody, to have identity. I'm Althea Gibson, the tennis champion. I hope it makes me happy.
• No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you.
• In the field of sports you are more or less accepted for what you do rather than what you are.
• I knew that I was an unusual, talented girl through the grace of God. I didn't need to prove that to myself. I only wanted to prove it to my opponents.
• In sports, you simply aren't considered a real champion until you have defended your title successfully. Winning it once can be a fluke; winning it twice proves you are the best.
• Most of us who aspire to be tops in our fields don't really consider the amount of work required to stay tops.
• People thought I was ruthless, which I was. I didn't give a darn who was on the other side of the net. I'd knock you down if you got in my way.
• I just wanted to play, play, and play.
• I was born too soon.
She suffered two cerebral aneurysms and a stroke.
Tennis players made no money in the 1950s, and Gibson’s finances worsened over the years. In 1992, she suffered a stroke. A few years later, Gibson called Buxton and told her she was on the brink of suicide. Gibson was living on welfare and unable to pay for rent or medication.
In September 28, 2003, at the age of 76, Gibson died in East Orange, New Jersey due to respiratory failure and was interred there in the Rosedale Cemetery.
She is a 2009 inductee of the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
She already left her footprints on the sands of time…..she can never be forgotten…..she is a hero