“Shaking hands with the Queen of England was a long way from being forced to sit in the colored section of the bus going into downtown Wilmington, North Carolina.”
Althea Gibson was a trailblazing and exceptional athlete, breaking barriers in professional tennis and golf. In 1950, she became the first Black tennis player to play US National Championships, and in 1951 became the first Black player at Wimbledon. In 1957, she won the women’s singles and doubles, and in 1958 she won the US Open. Gibson triumphed, but the road was rocky and at one point in her earlier years she considered abandoning her sports dreams because of how white-dominated and segregated the tennis world was. Gibson also later became the first woman to compete on the pro tour. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Even though Gibson said in her autobiography that she “never regarded [herself] as a crusader,” she really was an important pioneer for African American women in sports, as well as for all African Americans and all women in sports.