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Gibson's 1950 U.S. championships appearance voted top moment in black tennis history
February 8, 2005

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) -- Althea Gibson's barrier-breaking 1950 appearance at the U.S. championships was voted the most influential moment in black tennis history by a panel organized by the U.S. Tennis Association.

Gibson was the first black man or woman allowed to play in the tournament that became the U.S. Open. She won the event in 1957 and 1958 for two of her five Grand Slam singles titles. Gibson died in 2003 at 76.

Ranking second on the USTA list was the 1916 founding of the American Tennis Association, the first black sports organization in the United States. Third was Arthur Ashe's 1968 U.S. Open title; he was the first black man to win the tournament.

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var lrec_target="_top";var lrec_URL=new Array();lrec_URL[1]="http://us.ard.yahoo.com/SIG=129995a0n/M=321780.5575700.7022088.1806201/D=sports/S=95862560:LREC/EXP=1107980884/A=2570156/R=0/SIG=10t5pamst/*http://www.itunes.com/pepsi";var lrec_flashfile="http://us.a1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/a/pe/pepsi/itunes_300x250_10_020405.swf?clickTAG=javascript:LRECopenWindow(1)";var lrec_altURL="http://us.ard.yahoo.com/SIG=129995a0n/M=321780.5575700.7022088.1806201/D=sports/S=95862560:LREC/EXP=1107980884/A=2570156/R=1/SIG=10t5pamst/*http://www.itunes.com/pepsi";var lrec_altimg="http://us.a1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/a/pe/pepsi/itunes_300x250_020405.gif";var lrec_width=300;var lrec_height=250; on error resume next plugin = ( IsObject(CreateObject("ShockwaveFlash.ShockwaveFlash.6"))) The rest of the top 10 most influential moments in black tennis history, as selected by a 10-person panel that included former players Zina Garrison, Lori McNeil and MaliVai Washington and former New York mayor David Dinkins:

-- 4. Oscar Johnson wins the 1948 National Public Parks Championships, the first black winner of a United States Lawn Tennis Association sanctioned event.

-- 5. Ashe becomes the first black captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team and leads the United States to the 1981 title.

-- 6. Garrison reaches the 1990 Wimbledon final, the first black woman in a major final since Gibson.

-- 7. Yannick Noah wins the 1983 French Open, the tournament's first black male singles champion.

-- 8. Venus Williams reaches the 1997 U.S. Open final, the first black woman to reach the championship match since Gibson in 1958. -- 9. Washington reaches the 1996 Wimbledon final, joining Ashe as the only black men to get that far at the All England Club. -- 10. The Williams sisters win their first Grand Slam singles titles, Serena at the U.S. Open in 1999, Venus at Wimbledon in 2000.
 

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Knizzle said:
I guess Venus and Serena getting to #1 and #2 wasn't very important.
It is important, but I look at it as black history still in the making. It's not over. All the accomplishments listed are important, cambe before the Sisters, and Venus/Serena have and will have their place :)
 

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I don't know how Winning a grand slam is a lessor achievement than reaching a slam final?
 

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StarDuvallGrant said:
It is important, but I look at it as black history still in the making. It's not over. All the accomplishments listed are important and Venus/Serena have and will have their place :)
Exactly! :cool:

Am I the only one who thinks Yannick Noah
should be higher and would be if he was American?
 

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DA FOREHAND said:
I don't know how Winning a grand slam is a lessor achievement than reaching a slam final?
IMO, simply because he's not American. :rolleyes:

I'd have put him 4th.
 

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The rest of the story behind Gibson's 1950 U.S. Championships appearance at Forest Hills: she didn't make it to the final, not even to the semi-finals. The greatness of this achievement is that she was allowed to play there at all. She was the first African-American allowed to enter the then all-white world of Forest Hills. Tennis back then (at least in America) was a very elitist country-club sport, and there was a huge grass court circuit of tournaments that led all the way up to the Championships at Forest Hills. Exclusive clubs like Longwood Cricket Club in Boston, East Orange in New Jersey, the Philadelphia, Germantown, and Merion Cricket Clubs in Philadelphia all had very expensive, very exclusive, very rich memberships, and they (and the USLTA) didn't allow blacks to play in their clubs or at their tournaments. The great Alice Marble actually petitioned the USLTA to allow Althea Gibson to play, and she wrote a scathing article denouncing any decision to bar her as an outright disservice to tennis. The fact that this kid Althea who grew up in the streets of Brooklyn got herself in the position to actually compete in this kind of snake pit, and that she actually survived it over the next couple of years and went on to win a few major titles, is nothing short of groundbreaking.
 

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Kabuke said:
IMO, simply because he's not American. :rolleyes:

I'd have put him 4th.
Mal getting routed in the 96 Wimby final bigger than Serena's 99 UsOPen,Venus' 00 Wimbledon?
 

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DA FOREHAND said:
Mal getting routed in the 96 Wimby final bigger than Serena's 99 UsOPen,Venus' 00 Wimbledon?
I don't think it is.
 

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Martian Willow said:
I'm guessing Aborigines don't count as black?
That's a very good question. If you're interested, there's a terrific book out called "HOME: The Evonne Goolagong Story" by Evonne Goolagong and Phil Jarratt. She discusses this very subject at length, and provides some terrific insights into what she went through being the first "non-white" tennis player to be allowed to play in the South African Open back in the early 70s (before Arthur Ashe was granted a visa). There were protests and pickets when she and Margaret Court left the Sydney airport to fly to South Africa to play that year because of the apartheid government. She was also (affectionately) referred to by the Italians every year she played the Italian Open as "Chocolata". She was definitely counted in many circles as black, and while she was fortunate to have been protected by her mentor Vic Edwards, who took her into his home and tennis academy when she was only 13 years of age, after that relationship soured and she married Roger Cawley in the mid-70s, her eyes were opened up to a world she had never known existed, and one which parallels the African-American tennis experience in many ways. There is no other, and has not been since, another Aboriginal tennis player of note since Evonne Goolagong. When she was inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame, she insisted that they fly the Aboriginal flag instead of the Australian flag. I really, really like this woman.
 

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:cool:
 

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Kabuke said:
Exactly! :cool:

Am I the only one who thinks Yannick Noah
should be higher and would be if he was American?
He probably would have been ranked a little higher if he had been american ;)
 

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I always think of Ashe's 1975 Wimbledon title as his ultimate achievement, even more than his U.S. Open title. He defied the stereotype of African Americans succeeding solely on physical prowess by utterly outsmarting Jimmy Connors with a crafty, off-pace game. Given no pace to work with, Jimmy grew bewildered and frustrated and went down in four sets. And of course Ashe conducted himself with total decorum and class throughout the match. :cool:
 

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MisterQ said:
I always think of Ashe's 1975 Wimbledon title as his ultimate achievement, even more than his U.S. Open title. He defied the stereotype of African Americans succeeding solely on physical prowess by utterly outsmarting Jimmy Connors with a crafty, off-pace game. Given no pace to work with, Jimmy grew bewildered and frustrated and went down in four sets. And of course Ashe conducted himself with total decorum and class throughout the match. :cool:
That coupled with the fact that Jimmy Connors was actually suing Arthur Ashe at the time (he later dropped the suit). I have a wonderful match on tape between Arthur and Ilie Nastase from 1977 Hilton Head (with commentary from the great Pancho Gonzalez no less) and it's more of the same. Arthur was a very heady player, and not only knew his way around the tennis court, he had all the shots, and used them with a great degree of intelligence and finesse at a time when there were a lot more thinkers playing the game with standard size frames than there were brawny shotmakers muscling the ball for winners. He's fun to watch play tennis.
 

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MisterQ said:
I always think of Ashe's 1975 Wimbledon title as his ultimate achievement, even more than his U.S. Open title. He defied the stereotype of African Americans succeeding solely on physical prowess by utterly outsmarting Jimmy Connors with a crafty, off-pace game. Given no pace to work with, Jimmy grew bewildered and frustrated and went down in four sets. And of course Ashe conducted himself with total decorum and class throughout the match. :cool:
I was mystified by that match, his spins and slices totally confounded Connors and his game at net was beautiful.
 
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