Althea Gibson

Growing up as a child, you tend to follow what your parents do and don’t do. You would expect them to make things happen for you so you yourself don’t have to do it.  As you grow up kids may make bad decisions and turn to someone, to look up to, as an idol if you will. There is a woman who encountered many problems as a child and decided to make something of herself that other kids can look up to. This woman is Althea Gibson. Gibson (african american) was part of an african american family. She was born August 25, 1927  in Silver, SC. Even though she was born in South Carolina, Gibson grew up in Harlem, New York City. Growing up Gibson had a passion for sports and played sports regularly. However, being african american at that time was very difficult due to the separation of colors and Gibson often faced discrimination. As we learn about many athletes today, we learn that the majority did have problems as a child. Gibson can be added to the list. She faced problems in school, her family was on welfare, and she almost regularly ran away from home. I’m sure we have all heard about a kid running away and going back home and not doing it again…But to do it regularly??? Wherever she went she always came back.    

Gibson is a sports player. She played golf, basketball, and even table tennis. Gibsons love for table tennis won her tournaments. A specific person that would change her life watched a few of her games. This person is a musician named Buddy Walker and he noticed how well she was at table tennis and he is the man who introduced Gibson to regular tennis at the Harlem River Tennis Courts. Then a man physician named  Dr. Walter Johnson started training her. All theses things were going on and she went along with them due to her passion for table tennis and her urge to try standard tennis. Because of tennis, growing up, Gibson moved a few times.  In 1946 she moved to Wilmington, North Carolina for tennis training and at the age of twenty she had already won ten consecutive national championships run by the American Tennis Association (ATA). Three years later she was able to participate in the 1950 US championship. Throughout all the moving and playing and training she continued her education. In 1953 she graduated from Florida A&M University on a tennis and basketball scholarship. After graduation she went to Jefferson City, Missouri to work at Lincoln University as an athletic instructor.   

Once the color barrier had been broken, Gibson then started playing against the best of the best all around the world. In ’56 she won the Italian championship and the next year won her first Grand Slam title and captured the French Championship. Then won the US championship and along with that was announced Associated Press Female Athlete of the year. Gibson was also ranked in the world top ten from 1956-1958. Then in 1964 she became the first african american woman to play in the Ladies Professional Golf Association but was only there a few years. Then in 1971 she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and was appointed the New Jersey state commissioner of Athletics. She worked there for ten years.  Gibson is an incredible woman is she not? All the accomplishments and obstacles she had to over come.   

However, in 1991 she encountered an obstacle she overcame but would affect her forever.  In 1991 she had a stroke. And since tennis players made no money during the time she played, she was living off of welfare and couldn’t afford to pay for medication. Then twelve years later (2003) Gibson died in New Jersey due to respiratory failure.   

Althea Gibson was sometimes refered to as the ” Jackie Robinson of tennis” because Gibson was the first colored woman to play professional tennis. And for all her accomplishments and winnings, at the beginning of the 2007 US Open she was inducted into the US Open Court of Champions and 2009 inductee of the New Jersey Hall of Fame.This day was the 50th anniversary of Gibsons victory and the US championship.    

Everyday people may impact their society or surroundings everyday. Sports players impact the fans and make history   

(Althea during the 1956 Goodwill Tour)

and that history may make some sort of impact. Gibson on the other hand created an impact that will be in effect for a long time. There is always the stories of how players had it bad growing up and had to fight for what they wanted to achieve. Thats great and all, but Gibson created a foundation to help those in that situation. The Althea Gibson foundation was created to encourage and provide financial aid to the urban youth that wish to develop skills in golf or tennis. This foundation was also created to help improve the social condition of urban america. All the athletes today that do work for charities and have fun and get out and communicate with kids is great by all means. I wouldn’t doubt that they do it out of their hearts, but how many athletes start an organization. Like i stated before, many fund and support organizations, but there are only a handful of people like Althea Gibson that actually start something to make a difference.  

Gibson made a huge impact mainly to help others. However there were more than one african american tennis players at the time of Gibson. Ora Mae Washington was born on January 23, 1898. There were many african american sports players but Gibson was one of the first to make something of her talent. Washington played before Gibson and during the same time as Gibson. Washington was part of the ATA and within that association won championships between 1925 and 1936. Washington, like Gibson was not just a tennis player. Washington took part in playing as well as coaching womans basketball. Other african american tennis players consist of Katrina Adams and Leslie Allen. Allen is very important because she was the first african american woman to win a tennis tournament since Gibson.  

There have been many african american tennis players to this day like the very famous Serena Williams and her sister. Records have been set and broken again and again. I’m sure the athletic tennis players today know about and probably admire the things that past african american tennis players have done such as Althea Gibson and Ora Mae Washington, and everything they have accomplished they deserve.


1 Comment

  1. “Gibsons love for table tennis won her tournaments and a specific person that may have changer her life, would be watching her play table tennis.”

    This sentence was hard to comprehend, it didn’t make much sense.

    Overall it was good i learned a lot about Gibson, i had no idea who she was.

    Some things to keep an eye on are what tenses your using, you changed from past to present a couple of times in your second paragraph.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s