She Was the First African-American to Win Wimbledon

On this day, July 6, 1957, Althea Gibson made history by becoming the first African-American to win a Wimbledon title in women's tennis.

Gibson was known as the Jackie Robinson of tennis and is still named the first black athlete to cross the color line of international tennis. Her amazing record and career have inspired MAKERS and tennis sensations like Serena Williams and her sister Venus.

"I am honored to have followed in such great footsteps," Venus Williams said in an interview. "Her accomplishments set the stage for my success, and through players like myself and Serena and many others to come, her legacy will live on."

Other tennis stars like MAKER Billie Jean King have admired her journey.

"Her road to success was a challenging one," King said. "I never saw her back down."

Gibson passed away on September 28, 2003 of respiratory failure in East Orange, N.J. Here are four facts you need to know about Althea Gibson:

1. She was born on August 25, 1927 in South Carolina and grew up in New York City's Harlem neighborhood. One year after she started playing tennis, she won a local tournament sponsored by the American Tennis Association. She then went on to win 10 straight championships from 1947 to 1956.

2. In 1956, she initially made headlines as the first person of color to win a Grand Slam title. Gibson then went on to score 12 Grand Slam titles, blazing an enormous trail through the racial barriers of tennis.

3. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971.

4. Gibson set another record by becoming the first African-American competitor on the women's pro golf tour in the 1960s.

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Photo Credit: ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images


In this June 26, 1956 file photo, trailblazing tennis star Althea Gibson competes in the first round of Wimbledon, in England. Gibson went on to win the French Open, the U.S. Nationals and was named the Female Athlete of the Year in 1957 by The Associated Press. Photo Credit: AP Photo, File

Sarah Palfrey Cook (left), chats with Althea Gibson, National Negro Women's Tennis Champion from Sumter, S.C., at the west side tennis club at Forest Hills, N.Y. on July 29, 1950. Cook and Althea played a practice match. Photo credit: AP Photo

Althea Gibson and Jackie Robinson together on the golf course during the ninth annual North-South Tournament at the Miami Springs course, Feb. 23, 1962. Photo Credit: AP Photo

Althea Gibson at the women's singles at Wimbledon with the big Challenge Prize. Photo Credit: ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images