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Althea Gibson
Althea Gibson in 1956.
Nickname(s) Ally
Country  United States
Residence
Date of birth August 25, 1927(1927-08-25)
Place of birth Silver, SC
Date of death September 28, 2003 (aged 76)
Place of death East Orange, N.J.
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Plays tennis
Singles
Grand Slam results
Australian Open F (1957)
French Open W (1956)
Wimbledon W (1957, 1958)
US Open W (1957, 1958)
Doubles
Australian Open W (1957)
French Open W (1956)
Wimbledon W (1956, 1957, 1958)
US Open W (1957)

Althea Gibson (August 25, 1927 – September 28, 2003) was a World No. 1 American sportswoman who became the first African-American woman to be a competitor on the world tennis tour and the first to win a Grand Slam title in 1956. She is sometimes referred to as "the Jackie Robinson of tennis" for breaking the "color barrier." Gibson was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Contents

Biography

Born at 9:00 am - EDT on August 25, 1927 in Silver, SC to Daniel and Annie Bell Gibson. Althea had two siblings, a brother, Daniel Gibson Jr. (known as "Bubba"), and a sister, Mildred Gibson.

Gibson continued to improve her tennis game while pursuing an education. In 1953, Gibson retired from amateur tennis. Before the open era began, there was no prize money, other than an expense allowance, and no endorsement deals. To begin earning prize money, tennis players had to give up their amateur status. As there was no professional tour for women, Gibson was limited to playing in a series of exhibition tours.

According to Lance Tingay of The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, Gibson was ranked in the world top ten from 1956 through 1958, reaching a career high of World No. 1 in those rankings in 1957 and 1958.[1] Gibson was included in the year-end top ten rankings issued by the United States Tennis Association in 1952 and 1953 and from 1955 through 1958. She was the top ranked U.S. player in 1957 and 1958.[2] In 1958, she appeared as the celebrity challenger on the TV panel show "What's My Line?".

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.

In 1971, Gibson was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and in 1975, she was appointed the New Jersey state commissioner of athletics. After 10 years on the job, she went on to work in other public service positions, including serving on the governor's council on physical fitness. In later years, 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. Buxton arranged for a letter to appear in a tennis magazine. Buxton told Gibson nothing about the letter, but Gibson figured it out when her mailbox started to bulge with envelopes full of checks from around the world. In total, nearly US$1 million came in.[3]

Gibson was married twice. Her first marriage to William Darben took place on October 17, 1965 and the couple was divorced in 1976. Will passed away in 1995. She was also married to Sydney Llewellyn on April 11, 1983 and was divorced from him in 1988.

On September 28, 2003, at the age of 76, Gibson died in East Orange, New Jersey due to circulatory failure and was interred there in the Rosedale Cemetery.

On the opening night of the 2007 US Open, the 50th anniversary of Gibson's victory at the U.S. Championships in 1now the US Open), Gibson was inducted into US Open Court of Champions.[4][5] She is a 2009 inductee of the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

Golf

Gibson became the first African American woman to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour. She joined the tour in 1963. Her best finish on the tour was a tie for second after a three-way playoff at the 1970 Lem Immke Buick Open. Gibson retired from professional golf at the end of the 1978 season. She is a smart person.

Grand Slam finals

ľ===Singles (7)===

Wins (5)

Year Championship Opponent in Final Score in Final
1956 French Championships United Kingdom Angela Mortimer Barrett 6–0, 12–10
1957 Wimbledon United States Darlene Hard 6–3, 6–2
1957 U.S. Championships United States Louise Brough Clapp 6–3, 6–2
1958 Wimbledon (2) United Kingdom Angela Mortimer Barrett 8–6, 6–2
1958 U.S. Championships (2) United States Darlene Hard 3–6, 6–1, 6–2

Runner-ups (2)

Year Championship Opponent in Final Score in Final
1956 U.S. Championships United States Shirley Fry Irvin 6–3, 6–4
1957 Australian Championships United States Shirley Fry Irvin 6–3, 6–4
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Women's doubles (11)

Wins (6)

Year Championship Event Partner Opponents in Final Score in Final
1956 French Championships Women's doubles United Kingdom Angela Buxton United States Darlene Hard
United States Dorothy Head Node
6–8, 8–6, 6–1
1956 Wimbledon Women's doubles United Kingdom Angela Buxton Australia Fay Muller
Australia Daphne Seeney
6–1, 8–6
1957 Australian Championships Women's doubles United States Shirley Fry Irvin Australia Mary Bevis Hawton
Australia Fay Muller
6–2, 6–1
1957 Wimbledon (2) Women's doubles United States Darlene Hard Australia Mary Bevis Hawton
Australia Thelma Coyne Long
6–1, 6–2
1957 U.S. Championships Mixed doubles Denmark Kurt Nielsen United States Darlene Hard
Australia Bob Howe
6–3, 9–7
1958 Wimbledon (3) Women's doubles Brazil Maria Bueno United States Margaret Osborne duPont
United States Margaret Varner Bloss
6–3, 7–5

Runner-ups (5)

Year Championship Event Partner Opponents in Final Score in Final
1956 Wimbledon Mixed doubles United States Gardnar Mulloy United States Shirley Fry Irvin
United States Vic Seixas
2–6, 6–2, 7–5
1957 Wimbledon Mixed doubles Australia Neil Fraser United States Darlene Hard
Australia Mervyn Rose
6–4, 7–5
1957 U.S. Championships Women's doubles United States Darlene Hard United States Louise Brough Clapp
United States Margaret Osborne duPont
6–2, 7–5
1958 Wimbledon Mixed doubles Denmark Kurt Nielsen Australia Lorraine Coghlan Green
Australia Bob Howe
6–3, 13–11
1958 U.S. Championships Women's doubles Brazil Maria Bueno United States Darlene Hard
United States Jeanne Arth
2–6, 6–3, 6–4

Grand Slam singles tournament timeline

Tournament 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 Career SR
Australia A A A A A A A F A 0 / 1
France A A A A A A W A A 1 / 1
Wimbledon A 3R A A A A QF W W 2 / 4
United States 2R 3R 3R QF 1R 3R F W W 2 / 9
SR 0 / 1 0 / 2 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 1 1 / 3 2 / 3 2 / 2 5 / 15

A = did not participate in the tournament

SR = the ratio of the number of Grand Slam singles tournaments won to the number of those tournaments played

See also

External links

References

  1. ^ Collins, Bud (2008). The Bud Collins History of Tennis: An Authoritative Encyclopedia and Record Book. New York, N.Y.: New Chapter Press. pp. 695, 703. ISBN 0-942257-41-3. 
  2. ^ United States Tennis Association (1988). 1988 Official USTA Tennis Yearbook. Lynn, Massachusetts: H.O. Zimman, Inc.. pp. 261. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "USTA To Honor Althea Gibson on Opening Night". usopen.org. 2007-08-15. http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/articles/2007-08-15/200708151187195923532.html. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  5. ^ Dillman, Lisa (2007-08-27). "Williams sisters part of Gibson tribute". Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/sports/tennis/la-sp-gibson27aug27,1,7412634.story?coll=la-headlines-sports-tennis&ctrack=1&cset=true. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 

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