Born August 25, 1927 in Silver, SC, A right-hander, grew up in Harlem. Her family was poor, but she was fortunate in coming to the attention of Dr. Walter Johnson,
a Lynchburg VA physician who was active in the black tennis community. He became her patron as he would later for Arthur Ashe, the black champion at Forest Hills (1968) and Wimbledon (1975). Through Dr. Johnson, Gibson received better instruction and competition, and contacts were set up with the USTA to inject her into the recognized tennis scene.
A trailblazing athlete who become the first African American to win championships at Grand Slam tournaments such as Wimbledon, the French Open, the Australian Doubles and the United States Open in the late 1950s. Gibson had a scintillating amateur career in spite of segregated offerings earlier in the decade.
She won 56 singles and doubles titles during her amateur career in the 1950s before gaining international and national acclaim for her athletic prowess on the professional level in tennis.
Gibson won 11 major titles in the late 1950s, including singles titles at the French Open (1956), Wimbledon (1957, 1958) and the U. S. Open (1957, 1958), as well as three straight doubles crowns at the French Open (1956, 1957, 1958).
Check out this tribute to Althea Gibson:
Watch Althea win @ Forest Hills 1957: