On Monday, August 25th, Google revealed an animated Google Doodle dedicated to tennis champion Althea Gibson (August 25, 1927 – September 28, 2003) for what would have been her 87th birthday.
Often compared to Jackie Robinson , Gibson was the first black athlete to cross the color barrier in international tennis, and she was also a professional golfer.
“She is one of the greatest players who ever lived,” said Robert Ryland , a tennis contemporary and former coach of Venus and Serena Williams . “Martina couldn’t touch her. I think she’d beat the Williams sisters.”
Known for her grace and athleticism, in 1956 she became the first person of color to win a Grand Slam title (the French Open).
That following year she won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals (precursor of the U.S. Open), then won both again in 1958, and was voted Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in both years.
In all she won 11 Grand Slam tournaments, including six doubles titles, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971 and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame 1980.
“I am honored to have followed in such great footsteps,” Venus Williams said of Gibson. “Her accomplishments set the stage for my success, and through players like myself and Serena and many others to come, her legacy will live on.”
Gibson died in 2003 at age 76 of respiratory failure in East Orange, New Jersey.
Around this same time last year, the U.S. Postal Service honored Gibson with a commemorative postage stamp .
See her Google Doodle in action , and learn more about her incredible story in the video below and at Wikipedia.com and Biography.com .