A Major Event For The Preservation And Rememberance Of The Life And Contributions Of American Tennis Great Althea Gibson At 2019 U.S. Open

Althea Gibson Monument Unveiled On Day One of 2019 U.S. Open

The historic occasion of  the Althea Gibson Statue Unveiling on Monday, August 26, 2019, the first day of the U.S. Open, raised so many different levels of thoughts and feelings.  The day was beautiful, the weather was good and the crowd was large, we were about to witness a tremendous turn around in the consistent lack of preservation and honor that Ms. Gibson has long deserved.

The greatness that Ms. Gibson brought to the Black community, the tennis world and America should have already afforded her legacy the dignity and respect that many who have done far less have already received.

This incredible Black woman was the first to break the color barrier of the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) in 1950, and played in the U. S. National Tennis Championships in Forest Hills. She became the first African-American player to play in Wimbledon in 1951. She won the French Open Championship in 1956. Ms. Gibson won the U.S. National Championships and Wimbledon in 1957 and 1958. These victories were especially historic because the winner’s trophy was presented to her by Queen Elizabeth.

Ms. Gibson also broke the color barrier in golf, launching her golf career in 1964 and joining the
Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).

On the day of the Unveiling, Immediate Past United States Tennis Association (USTA) President Katrina Adams, and former tennis professionals Leslie Allen and Zina Garrison, all gave tribute to, and discussed the depth of what Ms. Gibson meant to them and the role that her mentorship played in their becoming successful players. Witnessing these Black women honor the fact that had there been no Althea Gibson, they would not be where they are today, paid well deserved, respectful and loving tribute to yet another history making and door opening Black American woman.

American tennis great Billie Jean King, Angela Buxton, Ms. Gibson's former doubles partner, and the creator of the monument, Eric Goulder, also discussed and paid wonderful tribute to Ms. Gibson. Of particular note was Mr. Goulder's detailing of his concept in creating the monument.  During an interview he talked about, "The bust portion sitting atop a box, the box representing the box that the world tried to keep her in, and her now sitting atop that box she is depicted having broken out of it." And that, "Her shoulder is especially depicted in the way that it is, because so many now stand on it."

Talking to Mr. Goulder brought so much more conceptual meaning to his work. Upon returning to the statue, I now saw it in a totally different light, and was also spiritually enlightened by it.

Ms. Buxton, shared memories of her long-time friend.  “We won both the French and Wimbledon doubles together with my arm around her both times at the closing ceremonies,” noted Gibson’s former doubles partner Angela Buxton during the ceremony. “she slowly became the Jackie Robinson of tennis and I was soon referred to as the Pee Wee Reese, who without saying a word indicated, “This is my friend.”

The sculpture also will activate an augmented reality experience. Developed by MRM/McCann, visitors will be able to activate exclusive content about Althea Gibson’s life and legacy by focusing the Augmented Reality (AR) Viewfinder found within the 2019 US Open app onto the sculpture.  Narrated by Billie Jean King, the additional AR experience traces Althea’s humble roots, her early interest and involvement in tennis, her career and her legacy through video footage, photos and graphics.  Fans can also view the AR experience anywhere by using the APP to place a full-size 3D “hologram” of the sculpture into their surroundings and re-live the experience again or for the very first time.component that brings Gibson's life and career to life for fans on site during the Open via the US Open mobile app.

This honor that the USTA has bestowed upon Ms. Gibson shines such a brighter light on the historic and current day value of the life of Althea Gibson. Later in the day, I stood and watched people of many different cultures stop and observe the monument, take photos in front of it or standing beside it, and reading her quote that is engraved on one of the surrounding granite blocks, "I hope that I have accomplished just one thing: that I have been a credit to tennis and my country.

Historic Highway Marker Unveiled For Durham's Algonquin Tennis Club

Many business, civic leaders and tennis enthusiasts attended the unveiling of the Algonquin Tennis Club, NC Historical Highway Marker in Durham, on Aug. 15, 2019.    Credit: Leoneda Inge / WUNC

A North Carolina Historical Highway Marker was unveiled Thursday, celebrating the all-black Algonquin Tennis Club. Tennis fans of all ages stood in front of the W. D. Hill Parks and Recreation Center in Durham for the unveiling on Fayetteville Street.

Miles Mark Fisher IV came down from Washington, D.C. for the event. The 86-year-old fondly remembers his days learning and playing tennis on those clay courts.

“I started ball-boying here in the 30s," said Fisher, who grew up on Fayetteville Street. "I ball boyed for Althea Gibson, all of the older players. I knew all of them personally.” 
The Algonquin Tennis Club was established in 1922, born out of segregation. Blacks could not play at white tennis establishments, even if they could afford to play there. The Algonquin Tennis Club, which also became a social club, was a place where African-American business leaders, educators and politicians would meet and socialize. 

In 1935, the Durham Committee on Negro Affairs was formed at The Algonquin. Today the organization still exists, known as the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. For more than 30 years, The Algonquin was a prominent meeting space for parties and for black travelers to stay. Just like tennis courts, segregated hotels were hard to come by, especially in the South.

Nathan Garrett, one of the first African American CPAs in North Carolina, and his family were members of The Algonquin. In his memoir published in 2010, "A Palette, Not a Portrait," Garrett said behind the two-story clubhouse "was a generous and well-kept lawn that sloped down to three red-clay tennis courts."

Fisher, who went on to play tennis in college and coach the sport, said those clay courts hosted many tennis tournaments, and the greats would come.

“Althea played here, Arthur Ashe played here, John Lucas, a lot of the top black players played here," said Fisher. "And then sometimes they would have an exhibition with some of the top white players. They would come out here and play.”

The Algonquin clubhouse was destroyed by fire, and the tennis club dissolved in 1964.

American Tennis Association Tournament at the Algonquin Tennis Club in Durham (circa 1950)  Please note Arthur Ashe third youth from right on front row (From "Durham's Hayti" by Andre Vann and Beverly Washington Jones.)


Hall of Famer Chanda Rubin Delivers An Insightful Acceptance Speech At Black Tennis Hall of Fame 2019 Induction Ceremony


2019 BTHOF - Chanda Rubin from Shelia Curry on Vimeo.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...