Known for movies

Short Info

Date Of BirthAugust 25, 1927
DiedSeptember 28, 2003, East Orange, New Jersey, United States
SpouseSydney Llewellyn, Will Darben
FactInducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2001.

Althea Gibson (August 25, 1927 – September 28, 2003) was an American tennis player and professional golfer, and the first black athlete to cross the color line of international tennis. In 1956, she became the first person of color to win a Grand Slam title (the French Open), and the first to win both Wimbledon and the U.S. National Championship (now known as the US Open).

Gibson was born in Clarendon County, South Carolina, one of seven children born to Daniel and Annie Bell Gibson. Her father was a farmer and her mother a domestic worker. Gibson’s brother Horace once said that as children, they were “poor as dirt.” When Gibson was four years old, her parents separated and she went to live with her father in Harlem, New York. It was there that she began to play tennis on the public courts of Harlem. At the age of eleven, Gibson was sent to live with an aunt in Wilmington, Delaware, where she attended high school and played tennis for the Wilmington Chesterfield Tennis Club.

In 1943, at the age of sixteen, Gibson joined the American Tennis Association (ATA), the black tennis organization, and won her first ATA national championship in 1947. She went on to win ten more ATA national titles between 1947 and 1958. In 1950, she was invited to play at Wimbledon, but declined because she could not afford the trip.

In 1951, Gibson finally made it to Wimbledon, becoming the first black player to compete at the tournament. She lost in the first round, but her performance earned her a spot on the U.S. team that traveled to Australia for the 1952 Summer Olympics. Gibson won a bronze medal in singles and a gold medal in doubles at the Olympics.

After turning professional in 1959, Gibson became one of the first black players on the Women’s Professional Golf Tour (now known as the LPGA Tour). She won ten tournaments on the tour between 1960 and 1963. In 1964, she made history again by becoming the first black player to compete on the PGA Tour, when she played in the Los Angeles Open.

Gibson retired from tennis in 1958 and from golf in 1977. She was inducted into both the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the World Golf Hall of Fame. In 1999, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.

Althea Gibson died of respiratory failure on September 28, 2003, at the age of 76.

General Info

Full NameAlthea Gibson
Date Of BirthAugust 25, 1927
DiedSeptember 28, 2003, East Orange, New Jersey, United States
Height1.8 m
ProfessionProfessional golfer, Tennis player
EducationFlorida A&M University


SpouseSydney Llewellyn, Will Darben
ParentsAnnie Bell Gibson, Daniel Gibson


AwardsAssociated Press Female Athlete of the Year
MoviesThe Horse Soldiers

Social profile links


1Inducted into the Florida A&M University Sports Hall of Fame in 1976 (inaugural class).
2Pictured on a nondenominated USA commemorative postage stamp in the Black Heritage series, issued 23 August 2013. Price of the stamp on date of issue was 46¢.
3Inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2009.
4Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 200-202. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.
5Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971.
6Inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2001.
7Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year 1957 & 1958
8Born at 9:00 am - EDT



The Player1992Althea Gibson (uncredited)
The Horse Soldiers1959Lukey


American Masters2015TV Series documentaryHerself
The Mike Douglas Show1974TV SeriesHerself - Ex Tennis Champ
About Faces1960TV SeriesHerself
This Is Your Life1959TV SeriesHerself
The Ed Sullivan Show1958-1959TV SeriesHerself / Singer and Tennis Player
Person to Person1959TV Series documentaryHerself
What's My Line?1958TV SeriesHerself - Mystery Guest

Archive Footage

The Fifties1997TV Mini-Series documentaryHerself - at Tennis Match
The Journey of the African-American Athlete1996TV Movie documentaryHerself
The Rock 'n' Roll Years1985TV SeriesHerself

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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