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Harlem Negro Player Wins Women's Singles

Althea Gibson's Unique Achievement

MISS ALTHEA GIBSON, 29-year-old Harlem Negro player, won the Wimbledon women's singles title and became the first coloured player to be enrolled on the illustrious list of champions. She beat Miss Darlene Hard, 21 of Los Angeles 6-3, 6-2 in the 50 minute final. Australia's monopoly in the men's doubles was broken after seven years when the Americans, Gardnar Mulloy and Budge Patty, whose ages total 75 years, beat the young Australians, Lew Hoad and Neal Fraser 8-10, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the final. Both Miss Gibson and Miss Hard were affected by the occasion and played far below their best. With both making a crop of errors, the match seldom rose above the level of mediocrity. Miss Gibson won because she carried more severity in her strokes, particularly on service, and had the greater control, especially in the opening stages when her play had the true stamp of a champion. The Packed Centre Court crowd, sweltering in the intense heat, loudly applaused when Queen Elizabeth came down from the flower-decked Royal Box and presented Miss Gibson with teh trophy on the court. The Queen, making her first appearance at Wimbledon, congratulated Miss Gibson and also had a few words with Miss Hard, who after speaking to the Queen, did a little skip and dance much to the amusement of the spectators. Miss Gibson's victory fulfilled a burning ambition that had fired her since the time she was spotted playing in the back streets of Harlem and given the chance to work herself up to stardom. This daughter of a garage hand was determined that she would do for her race what Joe Louis, Jesse Owens and other Negro stars had done in their respective sports. She said afterwards that she hoped to come back to defend the title next year.
Miss Gibson, who had been favourite for the title from the outset said: "I received many good luck cables from well-wishers all over the world, and they inspired me today". She said that the Queen said to her: "It must have been very hor out there. I was hot enough watching you". Miss Hard, seeded only fifth, said it was the fifth successive time that Miss Gibson had beaten her and she added that it was the most decisive defeat of them all. Miss Gibson and Miss Hard both carried huge bouquets of flowers as they came on court for the match. Miss Gibson was soon into her stride, serving and volleying with vigour to lead 4-love. Miss Hard unable to find her touch, gained only 5 points in those games.
Then Miss Gibson's control began to waver and volleying errors cost her her service in the next game. Miss Hard, helped by a fierce forehand which left Miss Gibson groping, held delivery for 4-2 and again for 5-3, but Miss Gibson served out the set in the next game in 24 minutes. It was much the same story in the second set, though with Miss Gibson making more errors than previously, Miss Hard was able to force some games to deuce. But she could not stop Miss Gibson from twice breaking through for 4-1. Games the went with service until the end. Miss Gibson had a Cinderella introduction to tennis. At the age of 16 she was playing padder-tennis, a miniature tennis played with a bat, when her natural talent was notice by the Negro band leader. "Bunny" Walker. She accepted his offer to have her coached by Sidney LLwellyn, whose advice and encouragement through the years that followed largely enabled her to gain the game's highed honour.

Tennis star, Darlene Hard (21)is from Montebello, California, thinks that she must get much more coaching to win the Wimbledon crown next year. She lost to her country woman Gibson this year in the final.



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NEWLY crowned Wimbledon women's tennis champion Althea Gibson has returned home with her sights on the U.S. tennis championship in Forest Hills, New York, next fall, the one major tournament she has yet to win. The Forest Hills tournament has been one of the main objective of the American Negro athlete. She made her first appearance there in 1950 at the age of 22, almost defeating the then Wimbledon champion Louise Brough. After that promising debut Miss Gibson suffered a series of tournament setbacks that had her of the verge of retiring 18 months ago. She had the help of such former champions as Alice Marble, Mrs. Sarah Palfrey Danzig and Mary Hardwicke Hare, but still she was being beaten. Miss Gibson, who has become the first Negro player to win a Wimbledon title, realizes that her long comeback has been a triumph over her own impatience... "I encountered no colour barriers", she once said... The real turning point in her career came in late 1955 when she was chosen to go on an overseas tour sponsored by the State Department and the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association. She won 16 of 18 tournaments, eleven of them in a row.
This string of victories gave her confidence and a new perspective. She had learned to temper herself and her game. Instead of trying to kill every ball, she learned the patience to keep the ball in play and wait for the right spot before bringing her full power to bear. In 1956 she was beaten by Shirley Fry in both the Wimbledon and Forest Hills tournaments, but the 16 international victories encouraged her to make her big attempt again this year. With the Wimbledon triumph behind her she will be the favourite at Forest Hills this year. Recently New York Herald Tribune, in an editorial, noted that only a few years ago, Miss Gibson was an unknown aspiring athlete in the city's Harlem district. "Today, she is the queen of the tennis world... she is a credit to her people, her game and - not least of all - her home town. It will be a pleasure to welcome her back to New York when she returns wearing her newest laurels". The New York Times declared: "She is a real champion, we, her fellow countrymen, have a right to be very proud of her, and we are.

In 1956, Althea lost to Shirley Fry (above) in both the Wimbledon and Forest Hills tournaments