Althea Gibson was the first African-American tennis player to compete at the U.S. National Championships in 1950, and the first black player to compete at Wimbledon in 1951. She also broke racial barriers in professional golf.
Althea Gibson was born in South Carolina on August 25, 1927. At an early age, she developed a love of sport. Her great talent was in tennis, but in the 1940s and ’50s, most tournaments were closed to African Americans. Gibson kept playing (and winning) until her skills could no longer be denied, and in 1951, she became the first African American to play at Wimbledon. Gibson won the women’s singles and doubles at Wimbledon in 1957, and won the U.S. Open in 1958.
“I have never regarded myself as a crusader. I don’t consciously beat the drums for any cause, not even the negro in the United States.”