Two African-American tennis players who achieved more then the world expected of them were Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson. They both picked up a tennis racket at a young age. Ashe and Gibson did not have a glamorous
childhood, but they never knew that picking up a tennis racket would change attitudes towards African- Americans playing tennis.
Arthur Ashe was born on July 10, 1943, at St. Phillips Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, a hospital for African (Weissberg 29). Ashe first picked up a tennis racket when he was about six years old. He learned how to perfect his stroke from Ronald Charity, a top-ranked black player (King 514). “By 1965 he was the top ranked collegiate tennis players in America” (King 515). He was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1985 (afoamhistory).
Ashe was not only a champion on the tennis court but also of social issues. Racism was an issue of importance to Ashe. In 1969, after he applied for and was refused a visa to South African to play tennis there, he enlisted the support of various groups; his efforts resulted in the expulsion of South Africa from the Davis Cup competition in 1970 (King 517). “ For his support of human rights issues, the U.S. government invited Ashe to speak to the African Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Foreign Relation Committee”(King 517). Ashe became active in the fight against AIDS and the ignorance and prejudice that surround the disease (King 519). He was arrested and jailed in the summer of 1992 following a protest in front of the White House regarding the U.S. Policy on Haitian refugees (King 520). Arthur Ashe died on February 6,1993, in New York City (Weissberg 59).
Althea Gibson was born on August 25, 1927, in Silver, South Carolina (King528). “She was discovered at the age of 13 by a member of the community on a paddle tennis court and taken to the Cosmopolitan Club in New York, where she was given lessons”(afoamhistory). Althea played in the New York State Open Championship and won her first tournament for the start of many more wins. “At the age of 18, she befriended by Sugar Ray Robinson, a celebrated boxer, who encouraged her to pursue her education and her tennis careen” (King 529). After two men who were interested in promoting Black tennis players spotted her at a competition, they offered to give her the opportunity to finish high school she graduate at the age of 22 and still continue her tennis lessons (afoamhistory) . In 1951,“Gibson broke another color barrier whenshe became the first Black to play in the All England Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, the most prestigious event in tennis” (King 530). But she was mad at her performance and was eliminated in the third round. One of her greatest victories was in 1957 at the U.S. National Tennis Championship. This clinched her standing as the best female tennis player in the world. The following year “She shocked the tennis world when she announced her retirement from amateur tennis; her reason was purely financial” (King 532). So in 1962, Gibson considered becoming a professional golfer (afoamhistory). She became the first Black woman to enter the Ladies’ Golf Association in 1964 (King 532). On September 28, 2003 at the age of 76, Althea Gibson died in East Orange General Hospital (afoamhistory).
These two African-American tennis players achieved more than the world expected of them. Gibson and Ashe were both champions of tennis. They both won many titles Ashe and Gibson both were put in a hall of fame. Ashe was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1985 ( King 519). Gibson was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame in 1983 and also the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 1984( King532) . Both Ashe and Gibson were adopted after being observed playing at a young age. Both Gibson and Ashe have received many awards of all kinds from tennis for Gibson and Ashe social issues For Ashe and all the way to golf for Gibson .Gibson and Ashe had many likes and differences : Gibson drop out of school her first time but she came back and finish school and got her high school diploma, unlike Gibson Ashe graduate first in his class. Gibson and Ashe both are different but they both have a lot of things in common and one thing is that they showed there love for the game and Gibson and Ashe encouraged many Black people to do their best and not to let anybody to stand in their way. That is why these two African-American tennis players achieved more than the world expected of them.