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Place Category: Memorial & Statue
The larger-than-life statue of Althea Gibson (1927-2003) stands in the Althea Gibson Tennis Center in Branch Brook Park, Newark, New Jersey, since March 28th, 2012, in the same tennis courts the elite tennis player taught after she retired from professional tennis. It was created by Thomas Jay Warren.
Gibson was the first American tennis and golf player who broke the race barrier in professional sports and won the most prestigious titles while making several Firsts on the way.
Gibson was born on a farm in rural South Carolina, and at the age of 3, the family moved to Harlem, NY. There, she started playing paddle tennis, and by 12, she won the New York City women’s paddle tennis championship. She joined a tennis club, and although tennis was not her passion from the beginning, she realized she has a gift. She won national ATA girls and then women’s titles several times, and with the help of people who believed in her talent, she started to practice professionally, competing in the National Championships, sometimes as the first black athlete.
In 1956, Gibson won her Grand Slam tournament, the first African-American athlete to win the title. Overall, she won 5 Grand Slam titles and 51 national and international titles. In 1958, Gibson retired due to financial struggles, since in the old days, being a professional tennis player was not a profitable profession. She played professional golf for several years and directed the recreation department in New Jersey.
Another statue of Althea Gibson stands in Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.
Address: Althea Gibson Tennis Center in Branch Brook Park, Newark, NJ 07104
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Photo credit - Wikipedia