Althea: The Life of Tennis Champion Althea Gibson

St. Martin’s. Aug. 2023. 464p. ISBN 9781250246554. $32. BIOG
When World War II ended, women and Black people sought a more equitable place within society, especially considering the contributions and sacrifices they had made for the country’s war effort. George Polk Award–winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist Jacobs (The Other Barack) contends that no discussion of this shift can be held without considering Althea Gibson, whose life and achievements bridged this era. Jacobs deftly tells Gibson’s story. Born into a family of sharecroppers in 1926 in South Carolina, Gibson moved to Harlem in 1930 for a better life than what was available in the segregated South, where racism prevailed. Her family remained downtrodden, but Gibson’s athletic success in every sport she tried led her to tennis. She was a powerful and aggressive player whose mindset and style were often judged to be too masculine. She earned Wimbledon, French Open, and U.S. Open wins, but she still made virtually no money from the sport and faced racial barriers, even as the U.S. government used her on global tennis propaganda tours to show the world the successful integration of Black people into American society. Through extensive research and interviews, Jacobs reveals plenty about Gibson.
VERDICT Recommended for tennis fans and readers interested in race.
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