She was a true American sports hero. Played to win, not protest

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Althea Neale Gibson. Not to many people would remember who she was and what she accomplished. She was hated by the race baiters of her day. A great tennis player who was black, but who rejected the black supremacist’s. She played for herself. not for a race.We have this from a book review in the WSJ.

A new stadium was opened in August 1997 in Flushing, N.Y., home of the U.S. Open tennis tournament. It was named for Arthur Ashe, the only black man to win the championship. He won it once (Althea won it twice), in 1968, winning Wimbledon and the Australian Open once as well. But while Ashe was worthy, surely, of such exalted honor, the stadium should have been named for Althea Gibson.

We don’t know what went through Gibson’s mind on the day the Arthur Ashe Stadium was inaugurated. She was just short of her 70th birthday, living alone and destitute in an apartment in East Orange, N.J. How could she not have wondered why the honor didn’t go to her, the very first black player—male or female—to play in the U.S. National Championships at Forest Hills, N.Y. (the amateur precursor of the U.S. Open)?

In 1957–58 she won the Wimbledon women’s singles and doubles titles and took the U.S. women’s singles championship at Forest Hills. She also won the U.S. mixed doubles and the Australian women’s doubles in 1957. That year Gibson was voted Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press.In all, Gibson powered her way to 56 singles and doubles championships

What’s sad is how the author of the book pretty much ignored the fact that Althea couldn’t care less about being a black athlete. She just wanted to be the best athlete.

For her part, however, Gibson downplayed her pioneering role. “I have never regarded myself as a crusader,” she states in her 1958 autobiography, I Always Wanted to Be Somebody. “I don’t consciously beat the drums for any cause, not even the negro in the United States.”


Master of Truth. A writer who has captured the imagination of many.

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