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post #1 of 75 (permalink) Old Aug 14th, 2007, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thumbs up Pioneering black women to honor Althea Gibson in ceremony at US Open

Nice idea

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/200...pen.gibson.ap/

NEW YORK (AP) -- Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Aretha Franklin, Carol Moseley Braun and other pioneering black women will come together on the U.S. Open's opening night to celebrate the legacy of late tennis star Althea Gibson.
The USTA is commemorating the 50th anniversary of Gibson's historic title at the U.S. National Championships. In 1957, she became the first black tennis player, male or female, to win the tournament, which became the Open.

Gibson will also be inducted into the U.S. Open Court of Champions, based on the result of an international media vote, during the Aug. 27 ceremony.

Titled "Breaking Barriers," the tribute to Gibson will feature trailblazers in the worlds of sports, entertainment, politics and the arts. Franklin, the first black woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, will perform.
Among the other women scheduled to participate are Joyner-Kersee, the Olympic track and field champion; Braun, the former U.S. Senator; Phylicia Rashad, the "Cosby Show" actress; former WNBA star Cynthia Cooper; Winter Olympians Vonetta Flowers and Debi Thomas; tennis player Zina Garrison; astronaut Mae Jemison; and BET co-founder Sheila Johnson.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Billie Jean King and Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson's widow, are also expected to attend.

Gibson broke the color barrier in tennis in 1950 and went on to win 11 Grand Slam titles. She died in 2003 at the age of 76.
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post #2 of 75 (permalink) Old Aug 14th, 2007, 10:09 PM
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Re: Pioneering black women to honor Althea Gibson in ceremony at US Open

The USTA honored Arthur Ashe by naming their new stadium after him.....four years after he died. The USTA is honoring Althea Gibson's historic win at Forest Hills.....four years after she died. The USTA honored Billie Jean King by renaming the National Tennis Center after her.....while she's still alive. I don't think that's a coincidence, but if I say what it REALLY is, I'll be accused of playing a certain card.

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post #3 of 75 (permalink) Old Aug 14th, 2007, 10:10 PM
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Re: Pioneering black women to honor Althea Gibson in ceremony at US Open

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post #4 of 75 (permalink) Old Aug 14th, 2007, 10:12 PM
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Re: Pioneering black women to honor Althea Gibson in ceremony at US Open

Surely Venus and Serena will be participating...?


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post #5 of 75 (permalink) Old Aug 14th, 2007, 10:25 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Pioneering black women to honor Althea Gibson in ceremony at US Open

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Originally Posted by darrinbaker00 View Post
The USTA honored Arthur Ashe by naming their new stadium after him.....four years after he died. The USTA is honoring Althea Gibson's historic win at Forest Hills.....four years after she died. The USTA honored Billie Jean King by renaming the National Tennis Center after her.....while she's still alive. I don't think that's a coincidence, but if I say what it REALLY is, I'll be accused of playing a certain card.
I'm pretty sure that the Arthur Ashe stadium wasn't there when he was alive so naming it after him after he died was the only way. Althea being honored is long overdue, though.
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post #6 of 75 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2007, 03:40 AM
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Re: Pioneering black women to honor Althea Gibson in ceremony at US Open

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I'm pretty sure that the Arthur Ashe stadium wasn't there when he was alive so naming it after him after he died was the only way. Althea being honored is long overdue, though.
How about the Arthur Ashe USTA National Tennis Center? How about the Althea Gibson Grandstand Court? The USTA should have done something while they were alive. Period.

"He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord." -- Proverbs 18:22

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post #7 of 75 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2007, 04:10 AM
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Re: Pioneering black women to honor Althea Gibson in ceremony at US Open

11 Grand Slam Titles!

and some of these biotches today think they special.
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post #8 of 75 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2007, 04:12 AM
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Re: Pioneering black women to honor Althea Gibson in ceremony at US Open

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How about the Arthur Ashe USTA National Tennis Center? How about the Althea Gibson Grandstand Court? The USTA should have done something while they were alive. Period.

the usta can't even get itself together enough to grow the sport in this country, particularly among people outside of the countryclub box. while it would have been nice to see that, can't say it is shocking.
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post #9 of 75 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2007, 04:22 AM
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Re: Pioneering black women to honor Althea Gibson in ceremony at US Open

www.altheagibson.com

Her Bio -

Born August 25, 1927 in Silver, SC, A right-hander, grew up in Harlem. Her family
was poor, but she was fortunate in coming to the attention of Dr. Walter Johnson,
a Lynchburg VA physician who was active in the black tennis community. He became
her patron as he would later for Arthur Ashe, the black champion at Forest Hills
(1968) and Wimbledon (1975). Through Dr. Johnson, Gibson received better instruction
and competition, and contacts were set up with the USTA to inject her into the
recognized tennis scene.

A trailblazing athlete who become the first African American to win championships at Grand Slam tournaments such as Wimbledon, the French Open, the Australian Doubles and the United States Open in the late 1950s. Gibson had a scintillating amateur career in spite of segregated offerings earlier in the decade.

She won 56 singles and doubles titles during her amateur career in the 1950s before gaining international and national acclaim for her athletic prowess on the professional level in tennis.

Gibson won 11 major titles in the late 1950s, including singles titles at the French Open (1956), Wimbledon (1957, 1958) and the U. S. Open (1957, 1958), as well as three straight doubles crowns at the French Open (1956, 1957, 1958).

In 1957, she was the first black to be voted by the Associated Press as it Female Athlete of the Year. She won the honor again in 1958. After winning her second U.S. Championship, she turned professional. One year she earned a reported $100,000 in conjunction with playing a series of matches before Harlem Globetrotter basketball games.

There was no professional tennis tour in those days, so Gibson turned to the pro golf tour for a few years, but she didn't distinguish herself. She tried playing a few events after open tennis started in 1968, but she was in here 40's and too old to beat her younger opponents. She worked as a tennis teaching pro after she stopped competing.

She became New Jersey State Commissioner of Athletics in 1975, a post she held for 10 years. She then served on the State's Athletics Control Board until 1988 and the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness until 1992. On September 28, 2003 at the age of 76, Althea Gibson died in East Orange General Hospital.

The title of her autobiography, written in 1958, is "I Always Wanted to Be Somebody." To tennis fans, she always will be somebody very special. Though she didn't go looking for the role of pioneer, she was one. "If it hadn't been for her," says Billie Jean King, winner of 12 Grand Slam singles titles, "it wouldn't have been so easy for Arthur (Ashe) or the ones who followed."

Slam Record

1957-1958
Wimbledon Singles Championship

1956-1958
Wimbledon Doubles Championship

1956-1958
Wimbledon Mixed-Doubles Finalist

1957-1958
USLTA Singles Championship

1957
USLTA Mixed-Doubles Championship

1957-1958
USLTA Doubles Finalist

1957-1958
USLTA Singles Championship

1957
Australian Doubles Championship

1957
Australian Singles Finalist

1956
French Singles Championship

1956
French Doubles Championship
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post #10 of 75 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2007, 07:36 AM
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Re: Pioneering black women to honor Althea Gibson in ceremony at US Open

I wonder if the USTA's doing it because:

(a) it's the right thing to do

(b) they want to do a subtle "in your face" to Wimbledon, who failed to acknowledge a similar anniversary this year

(c) they're getting some heat for racist behavior in their system, and want to do a very public display to "disprove" it

They'll claim (a), but we know it's mostly (b) and (c).

And I have to wonder how thorough their presentation will be? Anyone care to bet that if they mention the 1950 US Nationals was the first slam to allow a black participant, they'll "forget" to mention that the USLTA didn't want to do it, but was shamed into it by Alice Marble amongst others.

And I wonder if, since Zina is participating, they'll use that opportunity to give her another one year contract as Fed Cup captain. Even though Zina's been handicapped by frequent injuries to her top players, she's won as many championships as her Davis Cup counterpart, Patrick McEnroe (0), even though he has been fortunate enough to have his top players available virtually every time. In other words, she's been as successful in winning the championship without top players as he has with them. Not saying Zina's the greatest Cup captain of all time, but she's thus far been as good as P-Mac. So why does he get multi-year contracts? Inquiring minds want to know.

Maybe Zina should also invite all of the Af-Am players from the tour to show up at the event, and introduce them to the TV audience, and close with the zinger that "this is the only time you'll get to see black women not named Williams on USA network". I had a little discussion with Jon Wertheim about this, and he asked, "well, why should they show these players?", to which I answered, "if you're showcasing Americans, and you show players like Gimelstob and Goldstein, who have never been in the top 50, how can you justify not showing players like Jackson, Washington, Perry, Stevenson, etc., who have?" I mean, cripes, they need to have biblical rainfall and run out of matches before they'd even show Chanda, who's had multiple stints in the top 10.

I'd also like to see Zina say something like "I was going to invite the African-American announcers from USA and CBS to join us, but then I realized there weren't any."

Although I may be putting Zina on the spot a bit here. After all, she probably shares some of our feelings, but might not want to spoil a long-overdue tribute to Althea. She might not share my proclivity for stirring things up.

And I have to wonder, how much of the ceremony will USA actually show? They skimped on the BJK ceremony, so who wants to bet this one will get short shrift.
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post #11 of 75 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2007, 08:03 AM
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Re: Pioneering black women to honor Althea Gibson in ceremony at US Open

But to return to honoring Althea, she also has a few more marks, according to my rough calculations. In the 1956 season, she won 23 tournaments (besting the official 21 shared by King and Court), and at least matched King's record for singles wins in a season (I think King's mark is 110, but don't have my stats handy). And she might have won Wimbledon and/or the US Nationals that same year, but she wore herself to a frazzle. She literally played every week up through Wimbledon, and was "flying on fumes" when she got to the All England Club.

As a fan, one has to lament the possibilities we missed out on. If Gibson had been allowed into the system sooner, and subsequently developed her game to championship level sooner, and had Connolly not been injured, and wanted to play longer, what clashes they might have had. And had there been Open tennis, those two could have hung around to play Bueno, Smith, King and Wade. Add in the Brits Mortimer, Haydon, Truman, and the delightful Ramirez and Reyes, what an era of tennis it could have been.

Another facet of Althea's career which is often overlooked is that she in generally credited with ushering in the serve/volley era in womens tennis. There were serve/volley players before her, but her relentless attacking, perhaps combined with her uniqueness bringing it to the public conscious and expanding media (including television) made it more popular. Thus, came the era of Bueno, Smith, king, Wade, et al. In a way, we saw something similar with the 2-handed backhand. There were several 2-handers before the mid-70's, primarily among the men. But with the tennis boom giving them exposure, the successes of Borg, Connors, and Evert popularized the stroke.

Anyhow, a long overdue tribute to Althea. Let's hope it's thorough, and let's hope it gets the coverage and respect it deserves from the media.
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post #12 of 75 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2007, 09:22 AM
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Re: Pioneering black women to honor Althea Gibson in ceremony at US Open

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Originally Posted by Brian Stewart View Post
But to return to honoring Althea, she also has a few more marks, according to my rough calculations. In the 1956 season, she won 23 tournaments (besting the official 21 shared by King and Court), and at least matched King's record for singles wins in a season (I think King's mark is 110, but don't have my stats handy). And she might have won Wimbledon and/or the US Nationals that same year, but she wore herself to a frazzle. She literally played every week up through Wimbledon, and was "flying on fumes" when she got to the All England Club.

As a fan, one has to lament the possibilities we missed out on. If Gibson had been allowed into the system sooner, and subsequently developed her game to championship level sooner, and had Connolly not been injured, and wanted to play longer, what clashes they might have had. And had there been Open tennis, those two could have hung around to play Bueno, Smith, King and Wade. Add in the Brits Mortimer, Haydon, Truman, and the delightful Ramirez and Reyes, what an era of tennis it could have been.

Another facet of Althea's career which is often overlooked is that she in generally credited with ushering in the serve/volley era in womens tennis. There were serve/volley players before her, but her relentless attacking, perhaps combined with her uniqueness bringing it to the public conscious and expanding media (including television) made it more popular. Thus, came the era of Bueno, Smith, king, Wade, et al. In a way, we saw something similar with the 2-handed backhand. There were several 2-handers before the mid-70's, primarily among the men. But with the tennis boom giving them exposure, the successes of Borg, Connors, and Evert popularized the stroke.

Anyhow, a long overdue tribute to Althea. Let's hope it's thorough, and let's hope it gets the coverage and respect it deserves from the media.

WOW

Well, well put Brian. I totally agree. Chanda should get waaaaaay more credit. Even Lindsay Davenport, having grown with her through juniors and the pro-circuit knew how well and dangerous Chanda was. By the way, did she finally retire?
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post #13 of 75 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2007, 10:38 AM
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Re: Pioneering black women to honor Althea Gibson in ceremony at US Open

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Maybe Zina should also invite all of the Af-Am players from the tour to show up at the event, and introduce them to the TV audience, and close with the zinger that "this is the only time you'll get to see black women not named Williams on USA network".


Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Stewart View Post
I had a little discussion with Jon Wertheim about this, and he asked, "well, why should they show these players?", to which I answered, "if you're showcasing Americans, and you show players like Gimelstob and Goldstein, who have never been in the top 50, how can you justify not showing players like Jackson, Washington, Perry, Stevenson, etc., who have?" I mean, cripes, they need to have biblical rainfall and run out of matches before they'd even show Chanda, who's had multiple stints in the top 10.
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post #14 of 75 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2007, 01:00 PM
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Re: Pioneering black women to honor Althea Gibson in ceremony at US Open

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Originally Posted by Brian Stewart View Post
...Another facet of Althea's career which is often overlooked is that she in generally credited with ushering in the serve/volley era in womens tennis. There were serve/volley players before her, but her relentless attacking, perhaps combined with her uniqueness bringing it to the public conscious and expanding media (including television) made it more popular. Thus, came the era of Bueno, Smith, king, Wade, et al...
I'll have to politely disagree with you on that one, Brian. Alice Marble is generally credited with ushering in the serve-and-volley style of play for women, and she was quite successful and pioneering with the effort. She inspired and basically spawned several great net rushers both pre and post WWII, including Margaret Osborne duPont, Louise Brough, Sarah Palfrey Danzig, and Doris Hart, among many others of the era (an era which, by the way, Althea Gibson came from). A few years ago I had the great fortune to have interviewed Pauline Betz Addie, and when asked about the game and career of Althea Gibson, her candid remarks were that "she didn't have to play anybody", "she had no backhand whatsoever", and "Doris Hart never lost a match to her, and they played many times". Several years after she retired, Pauline (a speedy baseline retreiver with a wicked backhand by trade) actually beat Althea a couple of times during a series of exhibitions they played, and Pauline was a good 10 years Althea's senior. By most accounts, Althea had a really great serve, and blanketed the net like nobody's business, but was by no means a complete tennis player the caliber of Court, King or Bueno.

All of this is not to say that she wasn't a great player, as she clearly was, and played who she had to play when she was allowed to play. Her decision to turn professional at the end of the 50s was out of necessity (the amateur circuit didn't pay the bills) rather than choice, and she even dabbled in a singing career as well as professional golf for a while. I'd also like to point out that she really didn't give a whole lot back to the United States Lawn Tennis Association, and even less to the USTA. Harsh words? Probably. Realistic? Yes. When you compare what Billie Jean King has given back to the further of the game of tennis in the United States (and the world for that matter), the naming of the Billie Jean National Tennis Center or Arthur Ashe Stadium actually seems justifiable. The really weird thing (again, I love everything about him, but did he even play tennis?) is why Louis Armstrong got the nod years ago.

All that said, I am really looking forward to watching the ceremony, and am glad the USTA is celebrating the accomplishments and greatness of Althea Gibson. I know I have her autograph in my collection, and I very much treasure it.

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post #15 of 75 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2007, 01:28 PM
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Re: Pioneering black women to honor Althea Gibson in ceremony at US Open

Oh, I get it. The conservative tennis establishment hates blacks, but they love feminist lesbians who push for diversity.
At any rate, it's good to see Gibson honored.
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