Feb. 5, 2009 – Over the years, there have been many great black athletes. This month, to celebrate Black History Month, we’d like to honor some of the women who have contributed to the soul of sports.
Althea Gibson was a pioneer in both amateur tennis and professional golf. In 1942, Althea entered and won her first tennis tournament. In 1947, Althea won the first of ten straight ATA National Championships. In 1956, she won the French Championships and, in 1957, won the All-England Championships at Wimbledon and U.S. National Tennis Championships at Forest Hills. Althea retired from amateur tennis in 1958 after she had won Wimbledon. In 1964, Gibson launched her golf career, joining the LPGA. She retired in 1971.
Another pioneer, Zina Garrison, became the first black woman to reach a Grand Slam Final (1990). She began playing tennis at the age of ten and held 20 major doubles championships before the end of her career.
Both Gibson and Garrison are sports legends who paved the way for athletes like Venus and Serena Williams. Both sisters turned professional at 14 and have since moved up in the ranks to become two of the top single and doubles players on the circuit. In 2008, Venus won Wimbledon in a match against Serena, sister against sister. Last month, Serena earned the top-seed after winning the Australian Open her 10th Grand Slam title.