Directed by Rex Miller • Documentary • 2014 • 83 minutes
Althea Gibson broke records on and off the tennis court. A truant from the rough streets of Harlem, Gibson emerged as a most unlikely queen of the highly segregated tennis world in the 1950s. A sharecropper's daughter, Gibson's family migrate north to Harlem in the 1930s, when fame that thrust her into the glare of the early Civil Rights movement.
No player, not even the great Arthur Ashe (who came a decade after Gibson), overcame more obstacles to become a champion than Althea Gibson; the first African-American to play at-and win-Wimbledon and the US Open was a woman.
Gibson was celebrated by ticker-tape parades in New York City, twice, to welcome her home after hard-fought victories. But there was no professional tennis circuit for women in her era, so her options were limited. As Gibson said, 'You can't eat a crown.' When she became the #1 player in the world, she still could not afford her own apartment.
In Rex Miller's moving and thoroughly-researched documentary, this elite athlete is finally given the attention she so richly deserves as uncompromising and courageous trailblazer and American pioneer.