Trailblazer Althea Gibson's statue is being unveiled at the U.S. Open today, honoring the tennis champion's many historic achievements.
Gibson was not only the first African-American to compete in the U.S. Open, but the first black player to win a Grand Slam (the French Open) and to win at Wimbledon. She went on to win 11 titles in all, including five singles trophies.
If you don't have plans to visit Forest Hills any time soon but still want to celebrate Gibson, don't fret. It just so happens that the Schomburg Center has an exhibit with an astounding selection of the tennis champion's prized possessions.
The terrific "A Ballad for Harlem" shines the spotlight on a range of people and places that have made Harlem Harlem, and Gibson, who grew up on West 143rd Street, is right there in the mix.
Among the framed artifacts are Gibson's wooden racket, tennis outfit and U.S. Open trophy (then called the U.S. National Championship) from 1957–her first of two wins in Forest Hills.
Even more remarkable is the fact that these historic pieces are located exactly eight blocks south from where Gibson began her climb to greatness (she lived between Malcom X and Adam Clayton Powell Jr Boulevards), making it easy to turn your visit into a mini tour of the neighborhood.
Forest Hills can wait until the crowds have gone.
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