The 2007 US Open will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Althea Gibson’s historic title victory at the U.S. National Championships with an Opening Night celebration themed, “Breaking Barriers.”
As part of the ceremony, Gibson will be inducted in the US Open Court of Champions, based on the result of an international media vote. The Opening Night tribute on August 27th will include a celebration of African American females who also broke barriers in the world of sports, entertainment, politics and the arts.
Aretha Franklin, the first African American woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, will perform a special tribute during the ceremony.
Gibson became the first African American tennis player, male or female, to win the title at the U.S. National Championships (now the US Open) in 1957. In addition to breaking the color barrier in tennis (1950), she was the first African American to win singles titles at the French Championships (1956), Wimbledon (1957) and the U.S. Nationals (1957).
With her success, she became the first African American to be named Associated Press Woman Athlete of the Year (1957 and 1958). Gibson won eleven Grand Slam titles in all, adding six doubles crowns to her singles success.
Gibson’s achievements will also be included in a special exhibit at the US Open Gallery located in Louis Armstrong Stadium. During the US Open, the International Tennis Hall of Fame will showcase “Breaking the Barriers…the ATA and Black Tennis Pioneers,” a special exhibit featuring the unheralded champions of early black tennis.