Althea Neale Gibson

Alora Claggett

BORN August 25, 1927 DIED September 28, 2003

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Althea's Childhood

At a young age she and her family moved with her family to Harlem, a neighborhood in borough of New York City.Her family struggled to make ends meet, living on public assistance for a time, and Gibson struggled in the classroom, often skipping school all together. However she loved to play sports— especially table tennis—and she soon made a name for herself as a local table tennis champion. Her skills were eventually noticed by musician Buddy Walker, who invited her to play tennis on local courts.After winning several tournaments hosted by the local recreation department, Gibson was introduced to the Harlem River Tennis Courts in 1941. Incredibly, just a year after picking up a racket for the first time, she won a local tournament sponsored by the American Tennis Association, an African-American organization established to promote and sponsor tournaments for black players.

Some cool facts about her

She was born in Silver, South Carolina, and she broke racial color barriers

She was

an active athlete, tennis player, and a golfer


Being champion is all well and good, but you can't eat a crown."

"People thought I was ruthless, which I was. I didn't give a darn who was on the other side of the net. I'd knock you down if you got in my way.”


Fearless because she was the first colored tennis player to play

Leader she was encouraging other people to do stuff beyond their limits

AMERICAN MASTERS | Althea Gibson - Preview | PBS