Originally published in 1960, the book had fallen out of circulation and was only available for exorbitant prices by book resellers. However, New Chapter Press, a leading publisher of tennis books, worked with the Althea Gibson family, estate, and the newly formed Althea Gibson Community Tennis Association to republish the book and make it available for the masses at a reasonable $19.95 price ($9.95 via Amazon Kindle).
A portion of sales for the book will benefit the Althea Gibson Community Tennis Association.
“I Always Wanted To Be Somebody” is the intimate and candid story of a girl who grew up in the asphalt environs of Harlem, skipping school, drinking hard liquor, stealing, and fist-fighting, but went on to break the color barrier in tennis and achieve the pinnacle of the sport by winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships and becoming an inspiration for many future champions.
Hall of Fame tennis legend and pioneer Billie Jean King, who said she used to sleep with “I Always Wanted To Be Somebody” under her pillow as a girl, contributed the foreword to the new edition, writing, “Althea was our Jackie Robinson of tennis, and the barriers show broke down and the doors she opened have paved the way for generations of tennis players.
Her contributions to our sport and to our world are many. Without Althea, there may not have been an Arthur Ashe, Leslie Allen, Zina Garrison, James Blake, Chanda Rubin, Mal Washington, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Coco Gauff, Frances Tiafoe, or Naomi Osaka.”
Gibson is one of the most iconic and talented female athletes of all time, breaking the color barrier in tennis and becoming the first black player to play and win at Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships. After becoming the first black player to participate in the U.S. Championships (the modern-day U.S. Open) in 1950 (three years after Jackie Robinson integrated baseball), she won the first of her back-to-back titles there in 1957, also winning singles titles at Wimbledon in 1957 and 1958.
After her tennis career, she also became the first black person on the LPGA Tour in golf. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971 and died in 2003. She was an athlete, coach, leader, activist, singer, actor, and one of the most illustrious and celebrated tennis players in history.
Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (NewChapterMedia.com) is the publisher of many leading tennis books including The Greatest Tennis Matches of All-Time and Pete Sampras: Greatness Revisited by Steve Flink, The Education of a Tennis Player by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, The Bud Collins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Wimbledon Final That Never Was by Sidney Wood, Juan Martin del Potro: The Gentle Giant by Sebastian Torok, Titanic: The Tennis Story by Lindsay Gibbs, among others.
Featured Image Caption: A radiant Althea Gibson, who became tennis queen of the world by winning the Wimbledon matches in England, waves from an open car as she receives the traditional New York ticker tape welcome two days after her return to this country. Miss Gibson, who played paddle tennis on the city streets, is the first member of her race to win the title. In the car with her (lower left) is Manhattan Borough President Hulan Jack. Courtesy photo /Wikimedia Commons