Born in South Carolina in 1927, Gibson began playing tennis in Harlem, New York, and after winning two national Black women’s tennis championships, she debuted at the U.S. Open in 1950.
After becoming the first African-American to win the singles and doubles titles at the French Open in 1957, on July 6, 1957, Gibson became the first African-American to win the prestigious Wimbledon competition.
In 1957, she won the U.S. Open again and the Associated Press named her Female Athlete of the Year in 1957 and 1958. During her tennis career, she won 56 singles and doubles titles and is a member of the National Lawn Tennis Association Hall of Fame. Gibson died from respiratory failure in 2003.
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