On Friday, tennis legends Billie Jean King and Katrina Adams joined the U.S. Postal Service on the grounds of the U.S. Open in Flushing, New York, to dedicate a new Forever® stamp honoring Althea Gibson, the 36th inductee into the Black Heritage stamp series.
“I’m excited that the Postal Service is releasing a Forever stamp that honors the legacy of my friend, Althea Gibson,” said King. “Her achievements served as a catalyst for equality in sports and in life, and I am honored to participate in this historic event.”
As the first African-American tennis player to win one of the four major singles tournaments, Althea Gibson (1927–2003) helped integrate her sport at the height of the civil rights movement. She twice won Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships (now known as the U.S. Open) and became the top-ranked player in the world.
King and Adams were joined by USPS Judicial Officer William Campbell, U.S. Tennis Association Director at Large Chanda Rubin, and a host of other professional athletes and coaches.
“Althea Gibson was impossible to ignore,” said Campbell. “Her achievements demanded Americans everywhere pay attention—and pay attention they did. She opened doors that other African-American tennis players would one day walk through—including Arthur Ashe, Katrina Adams, Chanda Rubin, and the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena.”
The image on the stamp is based on a photograph (taken at Wimbledon) of the tall and lean Gibson bending down to hit a low volley. By capturing her in action, award-winning artist Kadir Nelson emphasized Gibson’s extraordinary grace and athleticism. To learn more about Nelson’s stamp art, and to see some of his early sketches, check out the recent article in Publishers Weekly.
The Althea Gibson Forever® stamp is available now online at usps.com/stamps, by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), and at Post Offices nationwide.