August 25, 1950, Althea Gibson became the first African-American to play in an international tennis tournament. In that particular date, August 25 in the month, Gibson made the waves in becoming the first African-American to play in an international tennis tournament.
In 1950, Althea Gibson made history when she became the first African-American to play in an international tennis tournament when she was invited to compete in the United States National Championships in New York City. Following Gibson’s match, journalist Lester Rodney wrote,
In many ways, it was an even tougher, personal Jim Crow-busting assignment than was Jackie Robinson’s when he stepped out of the Brooklyn Dodgers dugout.
This invitation made Gibson the first African American athlete to cross racial barriers and play international tennis matches.
By the following year, Gibson was playing at Wimbledon and six years later, she became the first person of color to win a Grand Slam title at the French Open. In 1957 and 1958, Gibson won at Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals. In addition, she was voted “Female Athlete of the Year” by the Associated Press.
In total, Gibson won 11 Grand Slam tournaments and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Althea Gibson was born on August 25, 1927, in South Carolina. During her childhood, her parents moved to New York City as part of the Great Migration. Gibson excelled in sports—especially tennis—and won several local championships before breaking racial barriers in the game of tennis in 1950.
She died on September 28, 2003.
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