Wednesday, February 27
Althea Gibson: Tennis and Golf Pioneer
ALTHEA GIBSON BROKE THE COLOR BARRIER in both tennis and golf, although she is best remembered as the top-ranked U.S. tennis player who won 11 Grand Slam tennis titles, five in singles and six in doubles. In singles, Gibson won the French Open in 1956, and Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1957 and 1958. She was named Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in 1957 and 1958.
She also apparently made some good money in an era when it was scarce in sports, especially if you were a black woman.
"Gibson is known for playing a set of matches before the famed Harlem Globetrotter basketball games that netted her a reported $100,000 during one year," says AltheaGibson.com.
In 1964 Gibson became the first African American to join the LPGA Tour. Her golf career included a runner-up finish in the 1970 Len Immke Buick Open and 11 USGA championship appearances. She retired from professional golf in 1978.
Gibson's 1958 autobiography was titled I Always Wanted to Be Somebody. She surely was.
Gibson went on to become the New Jersey Commissioner of Athletics. A native of South Carolina, she died in New Jersey in 2003 at the age of 76.