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Venus leads Gibson tributes

Gibson paved the way for Venus Williams (left) and sister Serena
Venus Williams has paid tribute to tennis legend Althea Gibson, who died on Sunday at the age of 76.
Gibson was the first black player to compete at the US Open and at Wimbledon.

She went on to win the French Open in 1956 and back-to-back US and Wimbledon titles in 1957 and 1958. After her first Wimbledon victory, she was given a ticker-tape parade in New York City.

"I am grateful to Althea Gibson for having the strength and courage to break through the racial barriers in tennis," Williams said in a statement.

"Althea Gibson was the first African-American woman to rank number one and win Wimbledon, and I am honoured to have followed in such great footsteps."

Zina Garrison, who became the next African-American woman after Gibson to reach the final of Wimbledon when she played Martina Navratilova in 1990, said Gibson had been an inspiration to her.

She rose above segregation and discrimination to become a world-class tennis player

Statement from the Whitehouse
Profile: An American pioneer
"Althea used to say she wanted me to be the one who broke her barrier, to take the burden off her," Garrison said.

"She showed me the stall where she dressed and where she popped the champagne when she won.

"She knew she opened the door for all of us, and she was so excited about all the women who followed her."

The White House lauded Gibson as a champion of "remarkable spirit, determination, and skill".

"Althea Gibson rose above segregation and discrimination to become a world-class tennis player," the White House statement read.

Send your tributes to Althea Gibson
"In breaking the racial barrier in championship tennis, she furthered America's progress in recognizing individuals for their character and abilities, not their skin colour."

Alan Schwartz, president of the US Tennis Association, said Gibson was no less a trailblazer than baseball great Jackie Robinson or tennis champion Arthur Ashe.

"She simply changed the landscape of tennis," he said.

"Arthur Ashe's job was not easy, but if he had to climb a hill, Althea Gibson had to climb a mountain. She was the original breakthrough person."

47,533 Posts
Yeah, she was a pioneer! BJK worked for the tour in general, but I think what Althea did was more historic! A black woman winning Wimbledon, the whitest of all GS´s!! :worship:
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