Legendary tennis great Althea Gibson received another posthumous honor, having the intersection of West 143rd Street and Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem renamed Althea Gibson Way. The street naming, on August 25, took place on what would have been her 95th birthday.
Gibson was raised at 135 West 143rd Street between Lenox and Seventh Avenues, now Malcolm X Boulevard and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard respectively. It is where she discovered her love for tennis.
“It is imperative that we keep her name alive,” said Katrina Adams, former president and CEO of the U.S. Tennis Association, at the ceremony. “It’s the next generation (of Black players) that needs to know that before Coco (Gauf), Venus (Williams), Serena (Williams), Chanda (Rubin), me, Lori (McNeil), Zina (Garrison) and Leslie (Allen), was Althea,” said Adams, also a former player.
“Why? Because Althea came first.”
Considered the Jackie Robinson of tennis, Gibson, who also excelled at golf, becoming the first Black woman in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), was the first Black woman to win a Grand Slam title, taking the French Open in 1956. She then won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1957, and was a finalist in the Australian Open, reaching the ranking of No. 1 in the world. Gibson repeated as champion of both tournaments in 1958.
Althea Neale Gibson was born in Clarendon County, South Carolina and moved to Harlem with her family in 1930 during the Great Migration. She passed away in East Orange, New Jersey in 2003 at the age of 76.