July 21

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Althea Gibson  | Wins First Major Tennis Championship

Althea Gibson in 1956 by Fred Palumbo (NYWTS)
Althea Gibson
Tennis great Althea Gibson became the first African American woman to win a singles cup championship in the United States on July 21, 1957 when she won the U.S. Clay Court singles title at River Forest.   Althea Gibson became the first African American to win a singles cup championship at Wimbledon earlier that month on July 6, 1957 (beating Darlene Hard, 6-3, 6-2).  Gibson's amazing career included 56 singles and doubles titles, including wins in 11 Grand Slam  tournaments.  In 1957 and 1958 Gibson was voted Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press. She was the first African American tennis player to compete in the U.S. National Championships in 1950 and at Wimbledon in 1951.  Gibson also broke racial barriers as a professional golfer,  becoming the first African American woman to become a member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) in 1964.  Gibson was born in Clarendon County, South Carolina on August 25, 1927 and died on September 28, 2003 in East Orange, New Jersey at age 76.

Words That Matter

Althea Gibson

“I always wanted to be somebody. If I made it, it’s half because I was game enough to take a lot of punishment along the way and half because there were a lot of people who cared enough to help me.”

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