Telegram to Althea Gibson from Ray Robinson

About the Project

In 1959, Althea Gibson’s autobiography “I Always Wanted to Be Somebody” hit the shelves. According to the NY Times Book Review, “you can read all about the girl from Harlem they call the Jackie Robinson of tennis. Her book is amazingly candid…The language is the language Althea uses, and the frankness with which she speaks of her life is not only refreshing but fascinating.” Gibson was one of the most formidable sportswomen of the mid-20th century. She was the number-one-ranked female tennis player in the world in 1957 and 1958, a two-time Wimbledon ladies singles champion, two-time U.S. Open ladies singles champion, winner of multiple doubles and mixed doubles tournaments, and a professional golfer. Gibson took to tennis as a teen and despite her skill was often prohibited from playing in elite tournaments because of her race. In 1950, lobbying by the American Tennis Association and former tennis player Alice Marble forced the U.S. Tennis Association’s hand and Gibson became the first African American to compete in the U.S. Nationals. Help us transcribe her 1957 Wightman Cup medal and several congratulatory telegrams so that we can learn how others described this fascinating woman in their own words.

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