The International Tennis Hall of Fame is celebrating Black History Month with two new education initiatives that highlight the roles of Black tennis athletes in history and culture.
As part of the ITHF’s ongoing initiative to educate and spotlight Black tennis history, fans can now explore 16 new additions to the digital exhibit Breaking Boundaries in Black Tennis. The ITHF is additionally partnering with the National Archives and National Archives Foundation to host a lecture with Professor Ashley Brown to discuss her book Serving Herself: The Life and Times of Althea Gibson.
In 2022, Gibson’s official biography “I Always Wanted To Be Somebody” was re-released by New Chapter Press and can be purchased or downloaded here: https://www.amazon.com/Althea-Gibson-Always-Wanted-Somebody/dp/1937559971/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2P6I1KGMZ7VWG&keywords=I+always+wanted+to+be+somebody&qid=1675264731&sprefix=i+always+wanted+to+be+somebody%2Caps%2C112&sr=8-1
New Additions to Breaking Boundaries in Black Tennis Featured Throughout February. Launched in February 2022, the digital exhibit Breaking Boundaries highlights the breakthroughs, evolution, and impact of Black tennis players and contributors globally. Fans can browse the interactive globe online at breakingboundaries.tennisfame.com to explore these individuals’ on-court achievements and lasting impacts on the sport.
In the past year, fans have submitted their suggestions for noteworthy additions to the ever-evolving exhibit. Following review by the ITHF’s Black History Committee, several fan submissions have been added along with the committee’s selections.
The 16 additions for 2023 include current stars such as American Frances Tiafoe and Kenya’s Angella Okutoyi, alongside American legends like administrator Rodney Harmon, WTA champion Renee Blount and former Netherlands Davis Cup captain Stanley Franker.
“The International Tennis Hall of Fame is excited to recognize these new additions to Breaking Boundaries,” said Katrina Adams, chair of the ITHF’s Black Tennis History Committee. “Through this exhibit, the ITHF is doing vital work in preserving these individuals’ history, and sharing their stories of inspiration with the next generation. We are grateful for the tremendous reception and many fan submissions to Breaking Boundaries in the past year.”
In collaboration with the National Archives and National Archives Foundation, the ITHF will host Professor Ashley Brown to discuss her new book Serving Herself: The Life and Times of Althea Gibson on Monday, February 27.
The event will be held in the International Tennis Hall of Fame museum’s USTA Wing, with tickets on sale now for $26 at tennisfame.com/serving-herself-lecture. Attendees are encouraged to participate in a reception with light food and beverage starting at 6:00 p.m., followed by a lecture and book signing. The lecture will also be streamed live by the National Archives.
In her comprehensive biography, Brown narrates the public career and private struggles of Hall of Famer Althea Gibson. From her start playing paddle tennis on the streets of Harlem as a teenager to her 11 Grand Slam titles to her professional golf career, Gibson became the most accomplished Black sportswoman of the mid-twentieth century. In her unprecedented athletic career, she was the first African-American to win titles at Wimbledon, and what is now known as the French Open and US Open.
Based on extensive archival work and oral histories, Serving Herself sets Gibson’s life and choices against the backdrop of the Great Migration, Jim Crow racism, the integration of American sports, the civil rights movement, the Cold War and second wave feminism.
Ashley Brown is currently an Assistant Professor and Allan H. Selig Chair in the History of Sport and Society at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Professor Brown’s article “Swinging for the State Department: American Women Tennis Players in Diplomatic Goodwill Tours, 1941-1959” was honored by the North American Society for Sport History in 2015 and was subsequently published in the Journal of Sport History. The Journal of African American History has also published her scholarship.