US Open Notes: Althea Gibson; Navratilova Left Out

by Richard Vach | August 27th, 2007, 7:11 pm

HONORING ALTHEA — The USTA has been doing a lot of things right this year at the US Open, from showcasing tournament improvements to joint press conferences with players such as Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova who shared a media opportunity to celebrate winning the US Open Series. On Monday the USTA will open the night session with the theme “Breaking Barriers,” celebrating the 50th anniversary of Althea Gibson’s historic victory at the US Open. In 1957 Gibson became the first African-American to raise the US Open trophy after breaking the U.S. tennis color barrier in 1950. She also won the French Open and Wimbledon, 11 Slam titles in all including six in doubles. “She made tennis a better place,” said USTA President Jane Brown Grimes, “by opening doors and opening minds. She is finally receiving the recognition she so richly deserves.” Included is a well-done intro by USA Network and the two Williams sisters.

US OPEN EXPANDS WITH INDOOR PAVILION — Scheduled to be completed by the 2008 US Open, the USTA’s premier event will expand with a 200,000 square foot indoor tennis pavilion near the East Gate. The pavilion will house 12 indoor courts (nine on the first level, three on the upper level) with viewing areas for all courts, along with training center classrooms, a pro shop, fitness facilities and a cafe. During the US Open a hospitality area and SmashZone will be open, as well as a “superstore,” museum and food court. The pavilion will allow the USTA to expand its junior programs, leagues, camps and adult/wheelchair play in Flushing Meadows.

NO ROOM FOR MARTINA IN COMMENTATING BOOTH — Former No. 1 Martina Navratilova is solely a spectator this year at the US Open after failing to get picked up for a commentating gig. “It’s kind of mind-boggling,” Navratilova told Newsday. “When you have a football team and Joe Montana becomes available, you don’t say, ‘Oh, we already have a quarterback,’ but that’s exactly what happened.” Navratilova says time to spice things up. “I think the commentary is a little vanilla, and I’d like to put some hot chili peppers in there. Maybe they’re afreaid of what I’d say.” And her place in tennis history? “I’m the greatest of all time,” Navratilova said. “That’s what everyone else says, so who am I to argue?…The numbers don’t lie. What was it that Muhammad Ali said? ‘If it’s true, it ain’t bragging.'”

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22 Comments for US Open Notes: Althea Gibson; Navratilova Left Out

gkgjk Says:

her accentis ugly

jane Says:

i thought it was surprising that federer didn’t know who althea gibson was when he was asked about her in his press conference today.

he was honest and open about it, which is noble, but still it was surprising given his history – esp at wimbie, where she also won.

oh well, he’ll remember her now, as will others.

so a good job by the usta to honour her achievements – in tennis and in civil rights.

JDC Says:

I would argue that the numbers favor Graf as the best female singles player. Her 22 slam victories are only second to Margaret Smith Court (who has 24), but she holds other records that make up for that slight difference: most weeks (377) at #1, won all 4 slams at least 4 times each, and most years (8) as year-end #1.

I would agree that Navratilova is the best female singles/double/mixed-combination player.

Delores Says:

Am I the only one who is displeased by the fact that the world number one player doesn’t know who Althea Gibson is? That is unacceptable. A writer from the New York times said that it would be refreshing to have two other playes other than Venus and Serena to play on opening night after the ceremony to show that the achievements of blacks is just not for blacks. At first I thought it was a nice sentiment to show how far we have come, but when I hear that a world number one doesn’t even know who she is; that offends me a great deal. I am so glad Venus and Serena had that opportunity, because no other players are as deserving of worthy to honor such a champion as Althea Gibson.

Kara L. Says:

I don’t think that it’s such a big deal that Federer doesn’t really know who Althea Gibson is. Outside of the United States not a lot of people know about the minutinae of the civil rights movement, especially when it comes to a doubly marginalized person like Althea Gibson.

Personally I’m not overly offended by it because I don’t equate Federer’s oversight to complete apathy for the civil rights movement: he is part South African after all and his foundation deals with a lot of post-apartheid social issues. He’s just not well-versed in US History is all.

jane Says:

JDC – I agree with you about Graf as best female singles player.

Kara – I agree that Fed wouldn’t necessarily know a lot about the “civil rights” movement in the USA; I was surprised he didn’t about Althea because of her great achievements in “tennis!” She won 5 singles slams and 6 doubles slams after all.

mind you Says:

SO WHAT HE NEVER SAID THAT HE KNOWS a lot about woman tennis, there is a lot he doesn’t know about woman tennis.

I had no idea who she was, and for me it is very strang they asked all the bake players and fed, I am sure the most player have Noidea who the hall she was (with all me respect to her and her achivment and good actions).

I also sure if people ask him about a lot of great players from the woman game and record from the woman game he will have no idea,

and what is the pronleme, he doesn’t have to know, amybe he doesn’t liek woman tennis!!!!!!!!!!!

la tennis Says:

To gkgjk — and your typing stinks. What an ignorant, prejudiced comment. Navratilova is an invaluable resource and would be a wonderful commentator. She speaks excellent English and has an unimpeachable command and knowledge of the sport. Who else better?

Kara L. Says:

“I agree that Fed wouldn’t necessarily know a lot about the “civil rights” movement in the USA; I was surprised he didn’t about Althea because of her great achievements in “tennis!” She won 5 singles slams and 6 doubles slams after all.”

Well by that logic, people should be even more familiar with Shirley Fry Irvin than Althea Gibson (considering that the former won the career slam in both singles and doubles) but for some strange reason, there seems to be a lot more historical focus on the men’s sport than the women’s. It’s a pity, really but I’m glad that there’s been a huge turnaround as of late.

jane Says:

Right – good point. I agree, too, that it’s changing, which is good.

Missing Agassi Says:

Steffi Graf is the greatest female player ever. Grand Slam in a calendar year, plus the gold medal. Martina is second best, no doubt, however, far behind Graf.

Missing Agassi Says:

Also, when Martina says, “That’s what everybody says,” Billie Jean King does not = everybody.

Ellen Mooring Says:

I am grateful that Martina wasn’t picked up as a tennis commentator. When people lift up rank sinners (she is a lesbian), they are in essence condoning the sin and encouraging others to be immoral. An immoral nation is a weak nation. When homosexuals became militant, I knew their boldness indicated a total lack of truth and conviction and humility. No one is ever delivered of any bondage without first realizing it is wrong.

grendel Says:

Ellen Mooring: Some people will say that YOU are sinful for presuming to judge others in this way. Has that occured to you?

I presume you are a bible thumper – that is your entitlement, but remember, for many of us, most of us perhaps, the bible is just a book full of interesting myths and stories, with a Saddam Hussein type figure parading as God in the Old Testament.

jane Says:

Really Ellen Mooring – come out of the dark ages! You must be saddened that George Bush will soon be ousted; he’s another who links Bible and State, to no good effect.

That aside (this is about TENNIS after all) – regardless of what Martina does in her private life, I think a commentator of her knowledge – and an opinionated person too – would be good for women’s tennis.

zeg Says:

Martina’s commentary was incisive and direct, sometimes blunt. I liked that she called them as she saw them. But for the “mainstream” broadcast she probably had called someone “fat” once too many times.

samps Says:

Hey, I am betting M’me Mooring is kidding and merely trying to wind everyone up into reactions. I would be stunned if anyone anymore did really talk like that!

missing agassi Says:

I realize that the above comments considering Christianity are presented in a very inappropriate manner, but I encourage those who would say that the Bible is full of “myths and stories” to actually study the EVIDENCE for the truths recorded in the Bible. I mocked the Bible for years ignorantly and upon examining the evidence, I was astounded by the historical, philosophical, and scientific evidence that confirms the Biblical account. I’m not asking you to throw your brain out, I’m asking you to examine the evidence with an opened mind, even attempt to disprove it, and you’ll be surprised, challenged, and your life will be changed. Study it out with a unyielding desire for the truth. If it’s true, it would mean everything!
Here are a few good places to start:

I realize these boards are concerning tennis, however, the topic came up and I wanted to briefly address it. Thank you and God Bless

grendel Says:

missing agassi: I thought your line: “when Martina says, ‘that’s what everybody says,’ Billy Jean King does not = everybody” admirably succinct and to the point.

I think the idea of GOAT just as inappropriate for women as for men – so I fear I don’t accept your pushing Graf for GOAT.

Personally, I always much preferred Steffi to Martina. But I have no idea how you would say one is better than the other. Apart from anything else, they were so different.

P.S. don’t mock Bible; just ain’t science.

missing agassi Says:

I appreciate the respectful response, truly. My point with Graf was that to win the Grand Slam in a calendar year and the gold medal is a feat unsurpassed, but I understand your point regarding the difficulty in comparing the two, meaning, eras, players played against in their prime, etc. It’s like comparing Pete and Roger, I’m of the opinion (that’s what it is!) that Pete is the best due to who he had to play against, but who can say.
Also, regarding the Bible (I do not want to turn these boards into a preaching platform, honestly, I just want to respond to your points) a few good places to look would be:
Regardless, you’ll find the reading interesting. Again, I respect your thoughtful response. Have a great one!

Scott Says:

Martina is the best of all time no doubt about it. Almost all tennis pundits agree with that.
As for the bible basher – she’s needs to be hung.

Chrissy Says:

Navratilova is the greatest. Graf is extremely overrated and benefitted immensely from the Seles stabbing.

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