Althea Gibson

Althea Gibson (1927-2003)

First African-American woman tennis player to win all the major world singles titles.

Quote: “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.”



  • Althea Gibson was born in 1927 and raised primarily in the Harlem borough of New York City.
  • While Gibson would often skip school, she loved to play sport and won several ping-pong tournaments hosted by her local recreation department. This lead her to being introduced to the Harlem River Tennis Courts.
  • Within a year of starting to play tennis, Gibson won a local tournament sponsored by the American Tennis Association. After losing one title in 1946, she won 10 straight championships from 1947-1956.
  • In 1951, Gibson made history by becoming the first African-American ever invited to play at Wimbledon. A year later, she was a Top 10 player.
  •  After her retirement, Gibson was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971.

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