Althea Gibson Essay Research Paper As we

Althea Gibson Essay, Research Paper

As we look at our past, we are better able to see the

positive advances that we have made. One of the greatest

obsticles that we have overcome is the barrier of race.

Over the last several decades African Americans have had a

huge impact on many areas of society such as politics,

educatoin and most definately athletics.

On August 27, 1927, Althea Gibson was born. She did

not enter the world to a life of glamor. From the

beginning, her life was a tough one. Her family resided in

Harlem during the 1930?s and 40;s. Times were very

difficult for the young girl. Her family was on welfare and

she, herself was a client of the society for the Prevention

of Cruelty to Children. Because of home life traumas,

Althea frequently skipped school. The times that she did

go, she struggled though the day. While she was growing up,

she also ran away from home numerous times. As any young

child would do, Althea searched for an outlet from the

everyday hardships of school and home life. This is where

she discovered tennis.

It all began at local recreation programs where she

took up table tennis, or ping pong. Althea had talent right

from the beginning. She realized that she, a girl who?s

life had been nothing but rough roads and abrupt turns,

could be good at something. As she continued to gain

interest as well as perfect her table tennis skills, Althea

began to compete, and win several local tournaments.

Because of these victories,Althea began to get noticed. One

man, a musician by the name of Buddy Walker, saw Althea play

one day and had a revolation. He figured that if Althea was

so good at table tennis, then she would excel in regular

tennis as well. At the time, no one realized just how

beneficial this idea would be for the young Harlem girl,

Althea Gibson.

Through donations raised to pay for her membership and

lessons, Althea became a member of an African American club

called the Harlem Cosmopolitian Tennis Club. It was here

that she aquired the skills needed to compete in tennis

matches at a higher, more competative level. At the time

that Althea was emerging as a recognized tennis player,

African American?s opportunities were somewhat limitied.

One organization called the American Tennis Association

provided tounament opportunities for African American tennis

players. In 1942, Althea Gibson had her first landmark

victory when she won first place in womens singlesevent at

the American Tennis Assosiation?s New York State tournament.

Her succes continued to move in a positive direction over

the next few years. Althea went on to win these state

tounaments in 1944 and 1945.

After her victories in New York, she was offered the

opportunity of her lifetime. A well-off man from South

Carolina had been following Althea and was extremely

impressed by what he had seen. He extended her an

invitation to live in his home, attend high school, and of

course, study tennis. Althea attended Florida A&M

University in 1950.

During this time, Althea competed frequently in tennis

tournaments. For ten years consecutively, she won the ATA

(American Tennis Association) womens singles title

(1947-1956). Also while at Florida A&M, she entered

tounaments other than the ATA. Among these was the National

Grass Court Championship where she was the first African

American player, male or fermale, to be allowed to enter

this competition. In 1951, she became the first Africam

American to be invited to participate in the Wimbleton, an

all-England tournament. This was a giant step not only for

Althea herself, but for All African American athletes. In

1956, Althea won the French Open, another highly prestigious

tennis tounament. This year was extremely big for Althea

because she was allowed to participate in a world wide tour

where she was a member of the national tennis team. As time

went on, Althea began to emerge as one of the greatest

tennis players in the wolrd. She won the womens singles as

well as the doubles matches at the Wimbelton. New York

showed its pride in her by throwing a parade in her honor.

Althea wasn?t done yet. Althea continued to climb the

ladder of tennis succes when she won two Wimbelton titles as

well as the national grass title in 1958. That year, Althea

wrote an autobiography entitled ? I Always Wanted to be

Somebody? in which she told of her life, its hardships, and

her ability to beat the odds.

After years of work and numerous victories as well as

world wide recognition, Althea went pro. In 1960, she won

the womens professional title, her first big victory as a

proffesional tennis player. She expanded her horizons after

going pro, as she began to take up golf. She excelled in

golf as well, soon going pro.

Althea Gibson has truely influenced athletics as well

as our society in general. She is the epitome of a woman

who came from behind and succeded. Through her tennis

career, Althea has opened many doors that were previously

closed to her race as well as her gender. She emerged as a

leader who paved the way for the numerous athletes who would

follow in her footsteps for generations to come


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