With the help of friends who recognized her extraordinary talent, Althea Gibson rose from a childhood of playing stickball on Harlem streets to claim victory at Wimbledon. It is widely recognized that her sacrifices along the way paved the road for the successes of Venus and Serena Williams. But Althea's was a victory hard fought and painfully won.
She had no idea the turn her life would take when she met Angela Buxton at the French Indoor Championships. Despite her athletic prowess, Althea was shunned by the other female players. Her failing was her skin color. Angela, the granddaughter of Russian Jews, was also shunned. Her failing was her religion. Finding themselves without doubles partners, the pair decided to join forces, and together they triumphed, going on to win the 1956 championship at Wimbledon. The two women would become lifelong friends, and Angela would prove to be among Althea's greatest supports during her darkest times.
Gibson died in 2003, but her life and her contributions to tennis and race relations in the United States are well preserved in this valuable book. Bruce Schoenfeld delivers not only the true story of Gibson's life but also an inspiring account of two underdogs who refused to let bigotry win -- both on and off the courts.
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Bruce Schoenfeld, an acclaimed magazine and television journalist, is a frequent contributor to many national and international publications, including Sports Illustrated, Travel & Leisure, and the New York Times Magazine. He won Emmy Awards for his writing on the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul and the 1996 Olympic Games in Barcelona. He is the author of The Last Serious Thing: A Season at the Bullfights.Review:
“Bruce Schoenfeld has written a terrific book...[that] limns the textured and unlikely relationship between Althea Gibson and Angela Buxton.” (L. Jon Wetheim, Sports Illustrated)
“Terrific....An important contribution in spreading the legacy of Gibson, a woman worth remembering.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A reminder of the best and worst in sports.” (Robert Lipsyte)
“Heartwarming....Both the book and the women are to be valued and respected.” (Lesley Visser, CBS Sportscaster)
“Schoenfeld captures the not-so-good-old days of...tennis that are virtually forgotten in these affluent times.” (Bud Collins)
“Skillful....Schoenfeld blends the passion of an enraptured fan with the measured eye of a seasoned journalist.” (Kirkus Reviews on The Last Serious Thing)
“Remarkable...an overdue portrait of Althea Gibson.” (Chris Evert)
“It’s surprising how little the...world knows about [Althea] Gibson...who broke tennis’ color barrier..Schoenfeld...gives [Gibson]...[her]due.” (Starred Booklist)
“Althea Gibson...belongs to the ‘what ever happened to’ school of athletes...this book...answer[s] with verve and style.” (Library Journal)
“A remarkable tale of a friendship.” (Jon Entine, author of Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We're Afraid to Talk About It)
“A valuable book...[that] illuminates a vanished era of women’s tennis.” (Washington Post Book World)
“Schoenfeld is a true sportswriter--able to bring to life the sweat and intensity of Gibson’s matches.” (The Crisis)
“A detailed look at an era, a friendship and a sport.” (Chicago Tribune)
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