What (some) players have to say on Althea Gibson - MensTennisForums.com

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What (some) players have to say on Althea Gibson

Roger Federer:

Q. What do you know about Althea Gibson?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. You're putting me on the spot. I don't know what you're talking about.

Q. She's being honored tonight.
ROGER FEDERER: Nothing, to be honest. It's before my time. Isn't much I can really say about it. I don't know, I'm sorry.

Scoville Jenkins

Q. You're playing a match before a ceremony to honor Althea Gibson. Do you have any thoughts on her, what she did for the sport, you playing in the wake of that?

SCOVILLE JENKINS: I mean, anybody who's remarkable like her, come up, probably changed the sport for African Americans, it's unbelievable. For what you have to face going into this world. For me to play on this day, it's very special for me. I'm very lucky to be playing today.

Donald Young

Q. Tonight Venus and Serena are going to be out there to honor Althea Gibson. Were Serena and Venus role models for you? If so, how?

DONALD YOUNG: For African American tennis, definitely. But they're women and I play like the men's. But, yeah, for sure, definitely for tennis and everything, they've been awesome. Without them I don't think that many people would want to play.
Everybody wants to play. When someone talks about it, they say Venus or Serena, they want to be like them. That's what they say. That's what everybody strives for. They've won slams. Awesome.

Q. Can you remember the first time you saw them one of them play, what your reaction was?
DONALD YOUNG: I was excited to see one of them play. It has been a while since an African American played. They're awesome players. They're not just African American, but American players, too. Just overall they're great.

Q. How old were you the first time you saw them?
DONALD YOUNG: I can't remember. They've been out there a while. Before I was a teenager, for sure. I mean, 9, 10.

Q. Obviously Althea Gibson played a long time ago. Are you pleased she's going to be honored tonight? Do you know anything about her?

DONALD YOUNG: Most definitely I'm pleased. I actually did a biography about her when I was in sixth grade. Yeah, I mean, I know a lot. I can't remember it all now, but at the time I was really into it.
But, yeah, definitely for her to be honored tonight is great.

Q. Do you know what you got on the biography?
DONALD YOUNG: I want to say it was an A. I don't really remember, but I would like to say it's an A (smiling).

Venus Williams

Q. Big night obviously. Good way to start. All those figures out there on the court, winning on a night like this, what did it mean for you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it was definitely a tough act to follow in a way. Just watching the whole hour of entertainment, the whole story, I got to be part of the story, too, it was really moving.
It's like, okay, Williams can't lose tonight. That's not part of the plan. It's supposed to be an all American win tonight.
You know, I was definitely thinking that. But it was amazing. It was awesome to see all the women. When I came out of the locker room they were all lined up. When you walk out of the locker room, you're walking, you're concentrated, then there are all the women this. It was just exciting because for that second I was just enjoying the moment.

Q. How many of them had you met before?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I know Traci Green. Obviously I know Zina. I've met Jackie Joyner Kersee when I was 13. Yolanda Adams, I love her. Other than that, Phylicia Rashad, yes, I know her. Aretha, I've met her. I did know a few.

Q. What did it feel like to be around that kind of power?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, it was amazing, just the energy of all the smiles, the well wishes. They all were wishing me so well. Just good things. Just the power of the spirit in Althea, the things she went through, and knowing it's people like her that gave us an opportunity to be here today.
That all these women lined up here are because of women like Althea, and we all really are living up to that, it's amazing.

Q. Since you and your sister have come on the scene, what do you think your impact has been in tennis, the African American community in particular?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I definitely think there's a lot more African Americans coming to tennis. I always see a lot of people coming, a lot more African Americans watch tennis. So I definitely have seen a lot more faces in terms of that.
But, I mean, I'm not out there every day in the community, so I can't see on a grassroots level exactly what's happening.

Q. There aren't that many on the tour. The same correlation goes with the PGA TOUR. Tiger Woods has been around about the same amount of time a you. There aren't any other African American players on the PGA TOUR. Why do you think that is?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I just think it's a tough, tough game to get into. Probably in the community there aren't as many people to play against. There aren't older people who teach as much. I'm not exactly sure, but I definitely think I definitely probably should be more hands on with trying to do more.
But a lot of times it's tough just to be in the tournament, fulfill my commitments to the WTA and to the fans. I've definitely been thinking about that this year, how I can get more involved. I think I definitely will.

Q. Golovin has been beaten by Ahsha.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I've never really seen her play before, Ahsha that. Obviously it's a wonderful win for her, obviously a great night to do it with Althea Gibson tribute. It's good for American tennis. But I don't know her game very well.

Q. I spoke with Mr. Richard Williams outside regarding the significance of Althea Gibson's accomplishments. How did that influence your attitude, perhaps your performance tonight?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, like I said, I was really motivated because this was a night that the Williamses need to win. What's the score for Serena? 3 All. I guess the girl is playing well.
Serena has a never say die spirit. I felt really motivated to definitely bring in the win because of the whole night.

Serena Williams

Q. It was a special night with the tribute to Althea Gibson. What do you think yourself and Venus' contributions have been for African Americans and for the game of tennis?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I never think about it. I know every time I step out on the court I play for me and I play for all the other little African American kids out there who have a dream and who might not have the means, like myself and my sisters didn't growing up.

I feel like I play for them, too, and let them know if they fight hard and if they work hard, more than anything, your dreams can come true, whether you want to be a tennis player or a singer. You just have to work hard at it. I believe if they have a positive role model, they can do it.

Q. If you look at the pro ranks, there doesn't seem to be that many African American players coming up behind you just yet. The same can be said for the PGA TOUR with Tiger Woods' impact. Why do you think that is?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I can't answer that. I really can't answer that.


Q. Roger Federer said earlier tonight when someone asked him about Althea Gibson, he said it was before his time, he didn't know who we were talking about. Does that make tonight more important to educate some more of the players on tour as to just who she was?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think so. I can't imagine he didn't know who Althea Gibson was.

Q. That's what he said.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Which I think is the point. I think a lot of people don't know who she is, and they always say Arthur Ashe, Arthur Ashe. People forget that Althea Gibson was actually years, decades before Arthur Ashe. I think it's important to have nights like this so you can teach young people that don't know who they are.

Q. Venus couldn't quite remember, sometimes your memory is better, but do you remember the first time you talked to Althea? Did she give you any special words?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I remember I talked to her after I won here in '99. I just remember her saying something to the gist of like she finally was able to see a black person win a Grand Slam. I remember her saying that. She didn't say that verbatim, but that was basically what she said. I was so happy at the time. I was so excited to talk to her. Yeah, it was a great moment.

Jelena Jankovic
Q. On opening night Monday Althea Gibson will be honored. Do you know anything about her and the role she played in tennis?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I don't know much about her. I was young when she was playing, so I don't really know much about her.

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post #2 of 133 (permalink) Old 08-28-2007, 12:43 AM Thread Starter
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Re: What players have to say on Althea Gibson

I'm sure Venus & Serena will have comments that I will add here. It's a bit unsettling that Roger doesn't know more. I wish the reporters would have asked more players, not just black players. It would have been nice if the USTA provided a bio so that players like Roger and others could give informed statements, but from what I'm gathering, the USTA doesn't do much


DY's comments are the most interesting.

Edited to add article:

The New York Times
Printer Friendly Format Sponsored By

August 28, 2007
U.S. Open
After a Trailblazer Is Honored, Williams Carries on Her Legacy
By LYNN ZINSER

On her way to the court on opening night of the United States Open, Venus Williams seemed momentarily flummoxed. In the hallway from the locker room at Arthur Ashe Stadium, she was greeted yesterday by an array of stars, an eye-popping lineup of African-American women who came to honor the tennis icon Althea Gibson. Williams paused to kiss Jackie Joyner-Kersee, to say hello to Roberta Flack, seeming as if she wanted to hug every one of them.

For a rare moment near a tennis court, Williams seemed overwhelmed.

“I didn’t expect that,” Williams said. “I wanted to stop and say hello to everyone.”

The tennis part of the evening posed little in the way of a challenge for Williams, who turned the qualifier Kira Nagy into little more than a stage prop. Williams pummeled Nagy’s very first serve crosscourt for a winner and cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 victory that also featured Williams ripping a record 129-mile-an-hour serve in the second game.

“I am so excited to get that record,” Williams said.

The entire match — which was followed by her sister Serena taking on Angelique Kerber — took only 54 minutes, several minutes shorter than the opening-night ceremony that honored Gibson.

That came on the 50th anniversary of Gibson’s becoming the first African-American woman to win the United States National Championships, the tournament that would become the Open.

Gibson, who died in 2003, was inducted into the Open’s Court of Champions. On hand to honor her was a lineup of African-American pioneers that included Olympic stars like Joyner-Kersee (two-time heptathlon gold medalist), Debi Thomas (first to win a winter Olympic medal, in figure skating) and Vonetta Flowers (first to win a winter Olympic gold medal, in bobsled). The accomplishments stretched outside sports, to Dr. Mae Jemison, who was the first African-American female astronaut, and Carol Moseley Braun, the first to be elected to the United States Senate.

Taking special pride in the evening, though, was Zina Garrison, who is the first African-American woman to win an Olympic tennis gold medal, but someone who also provides tennis’s bridge from Gibson to the Williams sisters.

As a 15-year-old budding star, Garrison attended a tennis camp that had Gibson as the host. Gibson promptly told Garrison that she was not working nearly hard enough to become a professional player.

It was the kind of advice Garrison later passed along to the Williams sisters, whom she helped coach for a time and now watches with great pride. Garrison said she remained close to Gibson to the end of her life and was saddened that the honor did not come while Gibson was alive.

“I think we really needed to appreciate someone like her, not just as an African-American but as a strong woman, period,” Garrison said. “Because of the barriers that she broke, she broke barriers for women, period.”

Before Venus Williams played in her first final here, in 1997, Gibson had come to speak to her and wish her good luck. Last night, Venus said she watched the ceremony on television in the locker room waiting for her match.

“It was very special and emotional,” she said. “I just wanted to come out and live up to Althea’s legacy.”

The careers of the Williams sisters have often been interrupted by injury in recent years, but they remain two of the Open’s favorite stars. The crowd last night included Janet Jackson and Rachel Robinson, the widow of Jackie Robinson.

Venus Williams comes into the tournament seeded 12th, the result of an injury-plagued year but one that still had moments of brilliance. A year ago, she was merely a spectator at the Open, sitting out with an injury to her left wrist. This year, she bounced back to win Wimbledon for the fourth time in her career but was forced to pull out of a recent tournament in Toronto with tendinitis in her knee.

There was a momentary scare in last night’s opening match, when Venus slipped and skidded to the court trying to change direction. She quickly got up, bounced a bit on her ankle and continued to overpower Nagy.

The crowd rose to celebrate her victory, including the women who had come to honor Gibson and stayed to cheer two of the players who carry on her legacy.

“I’ve known them since they were 7 and 8 years old, so it’s like watching kids grow up,” Garrison said of the Williams sisters. “It’s just so amazing. The good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the one thing they’ve done is stay true to themselves. I think that’s what Althea stood for, being true to herself.”


Photos from Yahoo.

http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/2...nis_uso184.jpg

http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/photo?sl...uso185&prov=ap

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Re: What players have to say on Althea Gibson

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Originally Posted by Tennis Fool View Post
I'm sure Venus & Serena will have comments that I will add here. It's a bit unsettling that Roger doesn't know more. I wish the reporters would have asked more players, not just black players. It would have been nice if the USTA provided a bio so that players like Roger and others could give informed statements, but from what I'm gathering, the USTA doesn't do much


DY's comments are the most interesting.
But you would expect Americans (especially black Americans) to know more about her than a Swiss guy, no? And isn't there kind of already a thread about this?
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Re: What players have to say on Althea Gibson

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But you would expect Americans (especially black Americans) to know more about her than a Swiss guy, no? And isn't there kind of already a thread about this?
Well, that was a troll thread about Roger's statements. This is about how players responded to the question.

Like I said, there should have been a media bio given out to the players. I think that would have been the best thing the USTA could do in light of a big celebration tonight.

I don't know much about AG's personal life. Was she ever married or had kids? Will there be relatives there?
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Re: What players have to say on Althea Gibson

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But you would expect Americans (especially black Americans) to know more about her than a Swiss guy, no? And isn't there kind of already a thread about this?

I didn't know her before right now to be honest... But like you said I think he is European and don't know much about an old American player especially a woman.
People can't blame him for that.

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Re: What (some) players have to say on Althea Gibson


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Re: What (some) players have to say on Althea Gibson

Boy, these black boys sure sound like they have their answers memorized down pat. Once again America has cured racism.

Heil Bush.
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Re: What players have to say on Althea Gibson

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I didn't know her before right now to be honest... But like you said I think he is European and don't know much about an old American player especially a woman.
People can't blame him for that.
Right. And she's not even the best of her contemporaries. Maureen Connolly won more Grand Slam titles than Gibson, and she won the Grand Slam in 1953. But she didn't get honored for this achievement at the USO in 2003. This is ceremony was more about what Althea Gibson did for black Americans than for what she did in tennis. And that's fine, but I wouldn't expect Federer or any of the other Europeans to have much to say about her.
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Re: What (some) players have to say on Althea Gibson

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Boy, these black boys sure sound like they have their answers memorized down pat. Once again America has cured racism.

Heil Bush.
Come on, now. Say what you want about Bush, but he's not the one responsible for these coached answers.
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Re: What (some) players have to say on Althea Gibson

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Come on, now. Say what you want about Bush, but he's not the one responsible for these coached answers.
Maybe if some of that military money went towards public school education - particularly in the black-populated regions - we would hear something articulate from the Donald. Maybe he would even admit that he knows as much about Gibson as Federer.
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Re: What (some) players have to say on Althea Gibson

Roger probably isn't wildly versed on the second (if that)-layer of the American civil rights movement, and I think I'm OK with that.

Maybe if it were someone like Dr. Martin Luther King, I'd be somewhat concerned, but even then, I can't say for sure exactly how much it would or wouldn't matter.
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Re: What (some) players have to say on Althea Gibson

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Wake up! It's the Open
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Re: What (some) players have to say on Althea Gibson

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Maybe if some of that military money went towards public school education - particularly in the black-populated regions - we would hear something articulate from the Donald. Maybe he would even admit that he knows as much about Gibson as Federer.
Because poor Donald Young came from a disadvantaged neighboorhood, and if we had just thrown some more money at him, he'd be more articulate? Maybe I don't get what you're saying.
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Re: What (some) players have to say on Althea Gibson

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Roger probably isn't wildly versed on the second (if that)-layer of the American civil rights movement, and I think I'm OK with that.

Maybe if it were someone like Dr. Martin Luther King, I'd be somewhat concerned, but even then, I can't say for sure exactly how much it would or wouldn't matter.
Roger Federer actually doesn't know much about anything. He didn't even know about the Iraq War a few years ago when asked...


I just thought he'd be at least prepped for the AG question. Reminds me of Capriati's non-answer to Title 9
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Re: What (some) players have to say on Althea Gibson

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Roger Federer actually doesn't know much about anything. He didn't even know about the Iraq War a few years ago when asked...


I just thought he'd be at least prepped for the AG question. Reminds me of Capriati's non-answer to Title 9
Would you rather that Federer is fed a "politically correct" answer before his press conference, rather than just answering honestly that he doesn't know much about Althea Gibson. I like Roger because he isn't trying to be anything more than the simple Swiss guy that he is. He isn't trying to make huge social changes in the world; he's just trying to win tennis matches. He's not a saint, but he's a generally a good guy, and that's enough for me.
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