Game Changer Althea Gibson

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For the seventh day of our Black History Month Game Changer series, we highlight tennis legend Althea Gibson.  Gibson was the first black tennis player of either gender to cross the color line both nationally and internationally.

In 1956, Althea Gibson was the first black tennis athlete to when Grand Slam title after winning the French Open.  The next year she went on to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals, and repeated again the next year.  She was also voted Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press during those same years.  Gibson would go on to win 11 Grand Slam titles, 5 singles and 6 doubles.  Later she was inducted to both the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Though her tennis accomplishments are widely known, not many people know that after her tennis career Althea Gibson went on to play golf.  And just like tennis, she was a trailblazer in the golf world.  She became the first black woman on the Ladies’ Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour in 1964.  She was often considered the female Jackie Robinson for her contributions to sports and society.

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