WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Wilmington’s Althea Gibson will soon be honored at the site of one of her biggest victories.
A statue of the tennis great will be unveiled Monday in Flushing, New York; more than 50 years after her victory at the U.S. Nationals, which later became the U.S. Open.
A group of children from Wilmington’s One Love Tennis program will be on hand when it happens.
Aalyah Jones can’t wait to see the statue unveiled. She was one of the students from the Glow Academy that wrote letters to the United States Tennis Association asking why the tennis great hadn’t been honored.
“It’s surreal I never thought it would happen,” said Jones. “I never thought a letter could go this far.”
For 11-year-old Emellio Wood, it’s been a great history lesson to learn about one of the sport’s greatest champions.
“She was the most famous and first black women to play tennis,” said Wood about Gibson.
One Love Tennis founder Lenny Simpson knows his students understand how special an opportunity they have, but believes it’s one that will become greater over time.
“I think maybe five years from now or ten years from now when they take their grandkids to the Open and look at that statue and they tell them that we are a part of that history,” said Simpson.
For Simpson, who played professional tennis around the world, it will be the first time he steps foot on the U.S. Open’s new center court named after his coach and longtime friend Arthur Ashe.
“That’s what is going to turn up inside of me,” said Simpson. “I will be out there crying and bubbling all over the place. Because I know that Author Ashe is looking down on us and is smiling.”