FRIDAY, August 23RD, 2019, 11:00 AM | SOVEREL PARK, East Orange, New Jersey

Mayor Ted R. Green, East Orange City Council, The Estate of Althea Gibson & Leslie Scott Seale are pleased to invite you to a special dedication ceremony to honor the legacy of East Orange’s native daughter and trailblazing pioneer, Althea Gibson – the first African American to break the color barrier in tournament tennis around the world.

About Althea Gibson

Althea Gibson (August 25, 1927 – September 28, 2003) was the first black athlete to cross the color line of international tennis. In 1956, she became the first African American to win a grand slam title (the French Championships). The following year she won both Wimbledon and the US Nationals (precursor of the US Open), then won both again in 1958, and was voted Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in both years. In all, she won 11 Grand Slam tournaments. Gibson was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. "She is one of the greatest players who ever lived," said Bob Ryland, the former coach of Venus and Serena Williams.

“I am honored to have followed in such great footsteps. Her accomplishments set the stage for my success.”



Dedicating Soverel Park

Friday, August 23rd, East Orange Mayor Ted R. Green will lead a ceremony dedicating Soverel Park in Althea Gibson’s name, and unveiling a memorial of the hometown tennis legend.

The event will include remarks from featured guests, food prepared by celebrity chef Ameer Natson ( and a celebration of Althea Gibson’s legacy. It is free and open to the public.

The celebration is taking place a few days prior to the first serve of the 2019 US Open, where a memorial will be unveiled in recognition of Althea Gibson’s contributions to the sport.


Promoting Future
Tennis Greatness
in East Orange

A fundraiser will also be held on Sunday, August 25th to benefit youth tennis in East Orange and support the city’s Summer Tennis Camp.

Taking place at the Orange Lawn Tennis Club, where Althea Gibson competed many times during her career, the fundraiser will feature food prepared by celebrated chef David Burke, as well as talks from tennis dignitaries.

Click Here to Learn How to Attend →

In conjunction with the celebration, the East Orange Public Library will host an exhibition documenting Althea Gibson’s life. The exhibition will be on view for two weeks, from Friday, August 16th through Friday, August 30th.

View the Full Schedule of Events →


Food prepared by
Celebrity Chef Ameer Natson

Get Involved

If you would like to be involved, lend support or have any questions regarding this community initiative, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Contact Us →

ALTHEA GIBSON, 1927 – 2003