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Althea Gibson

Tennis Player

Born: 25 August 1927
Died: 28 September 2003 (respiratory failure)
Birthplace: Silver, South Carolina
Best known as: The first black woman to win the U.S. Open
The daughter of sharecroppers, Althea Gibson became a tennis sensation in the 1950s. Her 1956 triumph at the French Tennis Championships (later known as the French Open) made her the first black woman ever to win a major singles title. The next year she won singles titles at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships, and repeated the feat in 1958. Gibson retired as an amateur after the 1958 season, having become an acclaimed public figure. She later toured as a celebrity with the Harlem Globetrotters and then (like Babe Zaharias) chose golf as a second career; she played on the LPGA tour from 1964-71. Gibson was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971.
Extra credit: Gibson is often compared to her fellow tennis pioneer Arthur Ashe and to two 21st-century African-American tennis stars, Venus and Serena Williams.

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