Trailblazing athlete Althea Gibson became the first great African-American player in women’s tennis. Raised primarily in Harlem section of New York City, and became the first black player to win Wimbledon and the French and U.S. Open titles.
In 1942 Athleta Gibson won her first tournament, sponsored by the American Tennis Association (ATA). In 1947 she captured the ATA’s women’s singles championship, which she held for ten consecutive years. In 1950, she became the first black tennis to enter the national grass-court championship tournament at Forest Hills in Queens, New York. Althea dominated the women’s competition in the late 1950s with her powerful serves and aggressive play. She was the first Black player to win the French (1956), Wimbledon (1957), and the U.S. Nationals (1957) Singles Championships.
In 1957 and 1958, she won the Wimbledon Women’s Singles and Doubles titles. In 1957, Althea also captured the 1957 Australian Women’s Doubles and U.S Mixed Doubles titles, which led her to be voted the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press, the first African American to receive such an honor. Althea reprised the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year award in 1958.