Althea Gibson is first African American to win Wimbledon 1957
On this day in 1957, Althea Gibson claims the women’s singles tennis title at Wimbledon and becomes the first African American to win a championship at London’s All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
Gibson was born on August 25, 1927, in Silver, South Carolina, and raised in the Harlem section of New York City. She began playing tennis as a teenager and went on to win the national black women’s championship twice. At a time when tennis was largely segregated, four-time U.S. Nationals winner Alice Marble advocated on Gibson’s behalf and the 5’11” player was invited to make her U.S. Open debut in 1950. In 1956, Gibson’s tennis career took off and she won the singles title at the French Open–the first African American to do so–as well as the doubles’ title there. In July 1957, Gibson won Wimbledon, defeating Darlene Hard, 6-3, 6-2. (In 1975, Arthur Ashe became the first African-American man to win the men’s singles title at Wimbledon, when he defeated Jimmy Connors.) In September 1957, she won the U.S. Open, and the Associated Press named her Female Athlete of the Year in 1957 and 1958. During the 1950s, Gibson won 56 singles and doubles titles, including 11 major titles.
After winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open again in 1958, Gibson retired from amateur tennis. In 1960, she toured with the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, playing exhibition tennis matches before their games. In 1964, Gibson joined the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour, the first black woman to do so. The trailblazing athlete played pro golf until 1971, the same year in which she was voted into the National Lawn Tennis Association Hall of Fame.
After serving as New Jersey’s commissioner of athletics from 1975 to 1985, Althea Gibson died at age 76 from respiratory failure on September 28, 2003, at a hospital in East Orange, New Jersey.
(More Events on This Day in History)
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- 1958 Juan Manuel Fangio bids goodbye to Grand Prix racing in France
- 1864 Confederate General Jubal Early occupies Hagerstown
- 1963 U.S. policymakers express optimism
- 1946 George “Bugs” Moran is arrested
- 1988 Explosion on North Sea oil rig
- 1942 Frank family takes refuge
- 1944 The Hartford Circus Fire
- 1967 Civil war in Nigeria
- 1971 Satchmo dies
- 1976 Women inducted into U.S. Naval Academy
- 1994 Forrest Gump opens, wins Hanks a second Oscar
- 1935 Dalai Lama, leader of Tibet and bestselling author, is born
- 1957 John meets Paul for the first time
- 1862 Mark Twain begins reporting in Virginia City
- 1946 George Walker Bush is born
- 1933 Major League Baseball’s first All-Star Game is held
- 1957 Althea Gibson wins Wimbledon
- 1955 Diem says South Vietnam not bound by Geneva Agreements
- 1964 Viet Cong attack Special Forces at Nam Dong
World War I
- 1918 Czech troops take Russian port of Vladivostok for Allies
World War II
- 1944 Georges Mandel, French patriot, is executed