The United States Tennis Association announced that the association will commission a statue to commemorate tennis legend and American pioneer Althea Gibson with a statue on the grounds of the US Open. The USTA will begin an RFP process to identify a sculptor for this historic opportunity.
Gibson, an inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971, 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. She repeated the feat in 1958. Overall, she won a combined eleven Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles play during her illustrious career.
“It’s simple. She’s the Jackie Robinson of tennis; she deserves it,” said USTA Chairman of the Board and President Katrina Adams. “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.”
The USTA is in the process of crafting a request for proposal to identify and select the artist/sculptor to create this lasting monument to an American icon. The USTA unveiled a statue of Arthur Ashe in August 2000, which serves as an anchor to the South Plaza on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open. The Gibson statue will be the second statue to commemorate a groundbreaking tennis icon and will be the third American tennis legend honored at the site, joining Ashe and Billie Jean King, for whom the tennis center was rededicated on August 28, 2006.
“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,” said 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 USTA does not have a strict timetable for the completion of this project. The first immediate step will be to author and issue the RFP. Then a select committee comprised of tennis notables will review the offerings before a decision is made.