By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 26, 2019
FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY (WCTV) -- A statue was dedicated to barrier-breaking tennis player Althea Gibson Monday as U.S. Open play continued at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The U.S. Tennis Association is commemorating Gibson's many firsts including becoming the first African American woman to win Wimbledon and the U.S. national title back in 1957.
FAMU President Larry Robinson was there as they honored the famous Rattler.
"For all the Rattlers out there, it's a special day for all of us," Robinson said afterward. "She's a pioneer. She is a giant; not just in women's tennis. She opened the door to Arthur Ashe, Venus and Serena. It's just phenomenal to think about what this Rattler did for the history of tennis and present day tennis in this nation and around the world."
Former FAMU tennis player Zach Evenden was there too.
"It makes us feel great. To see someone like this, someone with her background and where she came from and how she's being celebrated today with the statue. I think it's great," Evenden said.
Tennis great Billie Jean King was among those paying tribute to Gibson.
"This woman is extraordinary. She deserves this attention and she'll inspire. If people really learn her story," King said, "It'll inspire them to do great things with their lives."
Gibson's resume is ground breaking.
She attended FAMU on a full athletic scholarship in 1949.
In 1957, Gibson became the first African American woman to win Wimbledon and the U.S. national tennis title.
She was the first African American woman to appear on the covers of Sports Illustrated and Time magazine.
In all, Gibson racked up 11 grand slam tennis titles and when she was done with that, she went on to play women's professional golf.