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Althea Gibson

Althea Gibson (August 25, 1927 - September 28, 2003) was an American sportswoman. As a tennis player, she became the first African-American woman to play at the United States Tennis Championships and at Wimbledon.

Born in Silver, South Carolina, Gibson was raised in Harlem, New York, where she excelled in tennis, but also competed in golf and basketball. At the age of 15, she won the first of ten national championships in a row in the all-black American Tennis Association. In 1953, she graduated from Florida A & M University on a tennis and basketball scholarship, and moved to Jefferson City, Missouri.

In 1950, Gibson became the first African-American to compete in the National Grass Court Tennis Championships, the precursor to the US Open. In 1956, she won the French Championships and went on to play in the Australian tennis tournament circuit. The following year, she broke the color barrier at Wimbledon. In 1957 and 1958, she won back-to-back at the U.S. Championships at Forest Hills, New York and at Wimbledon. She also won the French Open and three consecutive Wimbledon doubles titles from 1956 through 1958.

She retired from professional tennis in 1958 due to a lack of prize money and endorsement deals. In 1964, she also became the first African-American woman to play in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).

For many years, she worked in various government advisory positions for physical fitness. In later years, she suffered two cerebral aneurysms and a stroke. She passed away in East Orange, New Jersey from respiratory failure at the age of 76.

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