Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Jackie Robinson of Tennis

On July 6, 1957 Althea Gibson became the first black tennis player to win Wimbledon. Gibson also won the doubles championship later in the day. Sometimes referred to as the "Jackie Robinson of Tennis," she became the first African-American woman to compete on the world tennis tour and break the color barrier. Gibson won the Grand Slam title in 1956 and was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971.
The Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum is actually located at the Newport Casino in Newport, RI - a short and scenic 30 minutes from POP. Commissioned as a resort in 1880, The United States Lawn Tennis Association held their first championships at the Newport Casino in 1881, an event that would continue through 1914, by which time tennis was firmly entrenched as the key attraction at the resort. The Hall of Fame was established there in 1954 featuring an extensive museum, grass tennis courts, an indoor tennis facility, and a court tennis facility. The first Hall of Fame members were inducted in 1955; as of 2010, there are 218 inductees from 19 countries.
This week, the Casino hosts the Campbell's Hall of Fame Tournament. Part of the ATP World Tour, the tournament is one of 15 events and the only grass court event in North America. Top male players come to Newport directly from Wimbledon to compete for the Van Alen Cup and $442,500 in prize money at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. We're very lucky to have some of the finest players in the world competing on the grass in our own back yard.