Archive for August 28th, 2007

Althea Gibson

Amy Sancetta / AP
Tennis great Billie Jean King holds a plaque honoring Althea Gibson during opening night ceremonies of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York on Monday. The plaque is commemorating the 50th anniversary of Gibson’s U.S. national championship title.

Althea Gibson plaque with Billie Jean King

NEW YORK — They honored the daughter of a sharecropper at the U.S. Open, and a crowd of 23,000 that included many people with incomes resembling plantation owners stood and applauded.

Althea Gibson died four years ago at age 76. Monday night, the U.S. Tennis Assn. did its best to resurrect her.

In 1957, Gibson became the first American of African descent to win the United States tennis title. It was the U.S. Nationals at Forest Hills then, it is the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows now. Monday night marked the 50th anniversary of her victory.

In 1950, Gibson was the first of her race [sic] to be allowed to enter the U.S. Nationals. The 50th anniversary of that was in 2000, when she was still alive and living nearby in Montclair, N.J. Her tennis barrier-breaking occurred only three years after Jackie Robinson had done a similar thing in baseball. That anniversary, as well as several of Robinson’s other landmark moments, were never missed by baseball or society.
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August 2007
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