Althea Gibson will be remembered for winning major tennis tournaments during segregation as well as being the first black to earn female athlete of the year from The Associated Press, in 1957.
Gibson moved to Wilmington in 1946 and attended all-black Williston High School. She did so for Dr. Hubert A Eaton to help her with her tennis game. A year later, she captured 10 straight American Tennis Association national matches. Two years later, she went to Florida A&M and, during the same year in 1947, she played against a white player for the first time ever. It was clear Gibson was headed for greatness.
In 1956, she won the French Open, and a year later won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. In 1958, she captured both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and then retired for a brief stint as a singer and actress in a movie in 1959. In 1964, she joined the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour but returned to tennis seven years later. She died Sept. 23, 2003, in East Orange, N.J. The tennis facility at Empie Park in Wilmington is named in her memory.
Date posted: April 14, 2016