This Day in History: Althea Gibson Becomes First African-American on US Tennis Tour

A legend was born to parents Daniel and Anne Bell Gibson on August 25, 1927, in Clarendon County, South Carolina.

On August 22, 1950, tennis legend Althea Gibson was accepted by the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association into the annual Forrest Hills championship. Six days later, Gibson would defeat Barbara Knapp in straight sets to clinch her first USLTA match.

It took Gibson a few years to find her footing on the tour. Her first major victory came in 1956 at the French Open. The following year, she would command at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, winning the tournaments at the age of 30. In the 1960s, Gibson also became the first African American to compete on the women’s golf tour. Elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971.

Gibson fell ill after suffering two cerebral aneurysms and a stroke. She later passed away from respiratory failure at a hospital in East Orange, N.J. in 2003 at the age of 76.