Over the course of her career, the late legendary tennis player Althea Gibson broke several racial barriers within the realm of sports. She was the first African American to win a Grand Slam title and the first Black person to win at Wimbledon. In honor of her legacy, a sculpture of Gibson was recently unveiled outside of Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York during the U.S. Open tennis tournament, CBS Sports reported.
The creation of the sculpture was an effort led by the North Carolina-based One Love Tennis group. The young members of the group penned letters to leaders of the United States Tennis Association encouraging the organization to create a sculpture of Gibson to pay homage to her contributions to sports. The bronze statue—which was built by sculptor Eric Goulder—was unveiled by former tennis player Billie Jean King.
“Althea is a very strong reminder that it’s important to the living people right now that we carry on her legacy and the legacy of equality,” said King during the unveiling ceremony. “I knew if Althea had gone through what she had gone through and changed the world, that I had a chance to follow in her footsteps and help change the next generations.”
Those who were close to Gibson say that she would have been beyond humbled to receive the honor. “It’s about time,” he former doubles partner Angela Buxton told The Undefeated. “Althea, with her two ticker-tape parades, still wasn’t allowed into a hotel where the whites sleep or a water fountain to drink where whites drink, but she helped to break that down.” Gibson passed away in 2003 at the age of 76.
The unveiling of her statue comes months after the city of Richmond renamed a road after Arthur Ashe.