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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 September, 2003, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK
Black tennis pioneer dies
Althea Gibson
Gibson paved the way for black stars like the Williams sisters
Former Wimbledon winner Althea Gibson has died at the age of 76.

The tennis star, who helped to break down colour barriers in sport, was the first black woman to compete at the US Open in 1950 and at Wimbledon in 1951.

And she went on to win both titles in 1957 and 1958, also adding a French Open to her list of honours.

Gibson had been seriously ill for years and died at East Orange General Hospital in New Jersey.

She was responsible for raising the profile of black athletes at a time when prejudice was common.

Gibson won her first tournament at 15, becoming the New York State black girls' singles tennis champion.

After her ground-breaking appearances at the US Open and Wimbledon, she was almost driven out of the game due to a loss of form.

But, in 1956, she took her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, also winning 13 other tournaments that year.

She won two more Grand Slams in each of the following two seasons, being afforded the rare privilege of a ticker-tape parade in New York.

An all-round sporting talent, Gibson took up golf in 1960, becaming the first black woman on the LPGA tour in 1962.

But she failed to match her success in tennis, failing to win a tournament.

BBC Five Live's Jonathan Overend
"Gibson was the first black player to dominate the world game"

An American pioneer
29 Sep 03  |  Tennis

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