Katrina Adams, chairman of the board and president of the USTA, said approval was granted in December to erect a monument "to celebrate her greatness."
Althea Gibson, along with Serena Williams are the inspiration behind our Grand Slammers necktie and even though Althea Gibson is a trailblazer for the sport of tennis, we are often asked who she is when speaking of the details of the necktie design. Unfortunately, her triumphs have often gone unnoticed in the decades since, with other tennis greats like Arthur Ashe having their name cemented in history.
One fact that many are not aware is that Althea Gibson won a Grand Slam 11 years(!) prior to Arthur Ashe. She is the first African American, male or female, to compete on the international tennis circuit. We are certainly not discounting Arthur Ashe's contributions to the sport of tennis, but we are thrilled that Althea Gibson is getting her long overdue place within the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center this year in Flushing, New York.
In addition to the soon to be unveiled monument in Flushing, there is another dedication to Althea Gibson in Essex County's Branch Brook Park in New Jersey, at the tennis parks where she used to teach. The statue was unveiled in 2012, with former tennis star and women advocate, Billie Jean King present. She is quoted saying, "Without Althea there wouldn't have been me."
Our co-founder, Lisa Santos by the Althea Gibson statue in Essex County, New Jersey.
The conversation of public monuments honoring female trailblazers has been getting a lot of attention lately, which has resulted in the planning of a few new monuments to be erected across New York City. *clapping*
See the below excerpt from Smithsonian.com in which they provide more detail on the upcoming works:
In 2018, the city of New York launched She Built NYC, an initiative that strives to bolster the number of public monuments that pay tribute to women’s history. The program selected Shirley Chisholm, the first black congresswoman in the United States, to honor with its first statue. And now, as Amy Plitt reports for Curbed NYC, She Built has announced that it is commissioning monuments to an additional four pioneering women.
The recipients—famed jazz singer Billie Holiday, civil rights advocate Elizabeth Jennings Graham, medical activist Helen Rodríguez Trías and one of history's few lighthouse keepers, Katherine Walker—are all intimately linked to New York City, and their statues will be located in Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, respectively. Together with the upcoming statue of Chisholm in Brooklyn, this means that all five of New York’s boroughs will now have a public monument to a woman, according to Julia Jacobs of the New York Times.
The existing statues—and, granted, there aren’t many of them—honoring women’s history in the city were previously clustered in Manhattan. As Jake Offenhartz of Gothamist reported in 2017, at last count there were approximately 145 monuments of historical male figures in New York. Only five historical women, by contrast, were represented among the city’s statuary: “Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and, most recently, Harriet Tubman,” according to Offenhartz.
We are excited to follow the unveiling of all of these new monuments and will certainly be sharing as we visit and pay respect to each.