Althea Gibson smashed tennis’ color barrier in the 1950s and now she’s getting a statue at the U.S. Open in recognition of her success, The Associated Press is reporting.
Gibson was the first African American to win the U.S. Nationals singles title in 1957, the tournament that was the forerunner to the U.S. Open. She will be honored at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens.
Althea Gibson in 1956 (Library of Congress)
Gibson, who died in 2003 at the age of 76, won three out of the four Grand Slams, the most important tournaments in tennis. She was singles champion at the 1956 French Championships, as well as both the 1957 and 1958 U.S. Nationals and Wimbledon. She was the first African American to win the U.S.
In a statement, USTA president Katrina Adams, the first African-American president of the organization, called Gibson the “Jackie Robinson of tennis.”
King said the 11-time Grand Slam champion — six of those titles in doubles — is “an American treasure” who “opened the doors for future generations.” Her success paved the way for the Williams sisters and others.
Gibson’s statue will join the one of Arthur Ashe that was unveiled at the 2000 U.S. Open. The USTA has yet to pick a sculptor for the Gibson statue