NEW YORK, NY, USA - The United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced on Tuesday that American icon Althea Gibson will be honored with a statue at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open.
“It’s simple. She’s the Jackie Robinson of tennis; she deserves it,” said USTA Chairman of the Board and President Katrina Adams in a statement.
“By breaking the color barrier, she made it possible for every person of color after her to have a chance to achieve their goals in the sport.”
Gibson became the first African-American to win the US Nationals, the pre-cursor to the US Open, when she won the women’s singles championship in 1957 and successfully defended her title in 1958.
Overall, she won a combined 11 Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles during her career, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971.
The USTA unveiled a statue of Arthur Ashe, for whom the main stadium at the US Open is named, in August 2000, which is located in the South Plaza on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
No timeable for the completion of the project has been announced.
“Althea Gibson is an American treasure and one of my most important heroes, and I am thrilled she will finally be honored at the National Tennis Center,” added WTA founder and legend Billie Jean King.
“Through tennis she opened the doors for future generations – men and women of all backgrounds – to have a chance to compete and make a living playing professional tennis. Our sport owes a great deal to Althea and it is my hope that the children of today and tomorrow will learn more about her and be inspired by her.”
The statue will be Gibson's second honor on the US Open grounds. She was inducted into the US Open Court of Champions, which celebrates the legacy of singles champions in tournament history and is located between the South Plaza and Courts 10 and 13, in 2007.