Althea Gibson

Aletha Gibson

1927–2003

In 1956 Althea Neale Gibson became the first African American to win a Grand Slam title (the French Championships). The following year she won both Wimbledon and the US Nationals (precursor of the US Open), then won both again in 1958 and was voted Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in both years. In all, she won 11 Grand Slam tournaments: five singles titles, five doubles titles, and one mixed doubles title.

Gibson was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. Bob Ryland former coach of Venus and Serena Williams said of Gibson, “She is one of the greatest players who ever lived…I think she’d beat the Williams sisters.” In the early 1960s she also became the first Black player to compete on the Women’s Professional Golf Tour.