Fifty years after blacks were first allowed to compete in its tournaments, the U.S. Tennis Association has honored its first black champion, Althea Gibson.
A documentary of Gibson's life, narrated by poet Maya Angelou, is being broadcast on public television stations nationwide, with the USTA as the lead sponsor.
The documentary comes one year after the USTA opened its new stadium at the National Tennis Center, named for its second black champion, Arthur Ashe.
Forty years ago, Gibson successfully defended her U.S. National Championship. Her 1957 triumph at Forest Hills made her the first black U.S. national singles champion, just as she was the first black Wimbledon singles champion earlier that year and the first black French Open champion in 1956.
"Part of our mission as the governing body for tennis in America is to promote the sport on an inclusive basis," said Alan Schwartz, the USTA's vice president in charge of marketing. "As such, this is a promotional opportunity we could not pass up. Althea Gibson played a vital role in the development of tennis."