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Before Serena Williams: 8 Amazing Facts About the Tennis Icon Althea Gibson

Before Serena Williams these Black athletes made a mark on tennis and golf.

She Moved North to Escape the Jim Crow South

Althea Gibson (Aug. 25, 1927 – Sept. 28, 2003) was part of the Great Migration northward when Black people from the south moved to the urban and industrialized north to escape Jim Crow. She came from the little town of Silver, South Carolina and ended up in Harlem. Her family was hopeful for a new life but they soon learned that the north was not much different from the south. Gibson and her family experienced tough economic hardships.



She Was a Table Tennis Champion

The first sport Gibson played was table tennis. She was so good at it that she became a local champion and captured the attention of musician Buddy Walker who inspired her to play tennis for real. In 1941, Gibson started playing at the local Harlem River Tennis Courts.

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