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GIBSON, ALTHEA: An entry from Macmillan Reference USA's Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, 2nd ed. [HTML] [Digital]

Arthur, JR. Ashe

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Althea Gibson was the first black tennis player to win the sport's major titles. Born in Silver, South Carolina, to a garage hand and a housewife, she came to New York City at age three to live with an aunt. The oldest of five children, she was a standout athlete at Public School 136 and began playing paddleball under Police Athletic League auspices on West 143rd Street in Harlem. In 1940 she was introduced to tennis by Fred Johnson, a one-armed instructor, at the courts (now named after him) on 152nd Street. She was an immediate sensation....

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