The Life of Tennis Champion Althea Gibson
by Sally H. Jacobs
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Pub Date 15 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 29 Aug 2023
The first full biography of Althea Gibson, the young woman from Harlem who broke the color barrier in tennis with her remarkable skill on the court.
In 1950, three years after Jackie Robinson first walked onto the diamond at Ebbets Field, the all-white, upper-crust National Lawn Tennis Association opened its door just a crack to receive the powerhouse player who would integrate "the game of royalty": Althea Gibson.
A street-savvy young woman from Harlem, Gibson was about as alien in that rarefied white world as an aspiring tennis champion could be. In her tattered jeans and short-cropped hair, Gibson drew stares from both sides of the color fence. But her astonishing skill on the court soon eclipsed all of that, as she eventually became one of the greatest tennis champions the United States has ever produced.
Gibson had a stunning career: She won top honors at Wimbledon and Forest Hills time and time again. As her star rose, the underestimated high school dropout shook hands with the Queen of England, was driven up Broadway in a snowstorm of ticker tape, became the first Black woman to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated and the second on the cover of Time, and was named the number one female tennis player in the world.
In Althea, prize-winning former Boston Globe reporter Sally H. Jacobs tells the heart-rending story of this pioneer. This first full biography of a remarkable woman reminds the world that Althea Gibson was a trailblazer, a champion, and one of the most remarkable Americans of the twentieth century.