Written by: Megan Reid
Illustrated by: Laura Freeman
For ages: 4-8 years
Topics Covered: Historical Figure, Women in Sports, Segregation, Trailblazer, Black Culture & Identity.
Althea Gibson was the first Black person to win a Wimbledon trophy! This book talks about how sporty she was as a child, and how Althea could never stop moving. When Althea found a Black tennis club a few blocks from her home in Harlem, she had the self-confidence to walk right in and start swinging a racket. Soon, Althea began traveling to play against other Black players.
The story also addresses how sometimes Althea did not exhibit the best sportsmanship during games, making fun of other players and getting upset when she lost. However, this drive also caused her to desegregate the women’s tennis league that competed globally for events like Grand Slams and Wimbledon. Althea fearlessly took on the challenge, gaining notoriety. She won Wimbledon in 1957 and then again in 1958.
Unfortunately, Althea’s fame and ability did not break down as many racial barriers as she had hoped and Althea left tennis feeling like the sport abandoned her. She did massive amounts of youth outreach and set up mobile tennis courts in neighborhoods that lacked them, but became jaded by the whiteness and racism that existed (and still exists) among the sports of the elite. Overall, this is a very positive book that focuses on Althea’s achievements and life, and does not go into details about her later life, which is fine (it is a children’s book after all) but there is a long Author’s note in the back, timeline of important events, and a list of other resources to learn more.
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Megan Reid works in books and television. She’s lived in seven states and two countries (and gone to twelve schools!), but now she’s happy to be based in Brooklyn with her dog, Luna. Althea Gibson is her first book for children.
Laura Freeman is originally from New York City, but now lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children. Laura received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts and began her career working for various editorial clients. Laura has illustrated over thirty children’s books, including Hidden Figures written by Margot Lee Shetterly, the Nikki & Deja series by Karen English and Fancy Party Gowns by Deborah Blumenthal. In addition to illustrating books and editorial content, her art can be found on a wide range of products, from dishes and textiles to greeting cards.