Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  83 minutes
Date:  2015
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Color/BW:  Color / Black and White
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Pioneering athlete Althea Gibson broke records on and off the tennis court.


Althea Gibson broke records on and off the tennis court. A truant from the rough streets of Harlem, Gibson emerged as a most unlikely queen of the highly segregated tennis world in the 1950s. A sharecropper's daughter, Gibson's family migrate north to Harlem in the 1930s, when fame that thrust her into the glare of the early Civil Rights movement.

No player, not even the great Arthur Ashe (who came a decade after Gibson), overcame more obstacles to become a champion than Althea Gibson; the first African-American to play at-and win-Wimbledon and the US Open was a woman.

Gibson was celebrated by ticker-tape parades in New York City, twice, to welcome her home after hard-fought victories. But there was no professional tennis circuit for women in her era, so her options were limited. As Gibson said, 'You can't eat a crown.' When she became the #1 player in the world, she still could not afford her own apartment.

In Rex Miller's moving and thoroughly-researched documentary, this elite athlete is finally given the attention she so richly deserves as uncompromising and courageous trailblazer and American pioneer.

'Before a lean man with aviator eyeglasses named Arthur Ashe made a dent in tennis history, before two sisters with rainbow-colored beads adorning their hair dominated women's tennis, a woman raised in Harlem to a sharecropper father blazed the trail for all of them. That woman was Althea Gibson, the African-American who broke the color barrier in international tennis.' -Jenisha Watts, ESPN

'Serena Williams inspires millions. This is the woman who inspires Serena.' -Lindsay Gibbs, ThinkProgress

'With much pain and heartache, Althea Gibson laid a foundation. With not as many tears and not as much heartache, Serena Williams, who as a seventh grader once faxed Gibson a list of questions as part of a school assignment, has built a castle in Gibson's honor...I have watched 'Althea' three times.' -William C. Rhoden, The New York Times


** Best Documentary, American Black Film Festival
** Official Selection, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
** Official Selection, DOC NYC Documentary Film Festival
** Official Selection, Athena Film Festival
** Official Selection, Palm Beach International Film Festival
** Official Selection, Newport Beach Film Festival
** Official Selection, Palm Beach International Film Festival
** Official Selection, AFI Docs Film Festival


Main credits

Miller, Rex (film director)
Miller, Rex (film producer)
James, Elisabeth Haviland (film editor)
James, Elisabeth Haviland (film producer)
Buirski, Nancy (film producer)

Other credits

Cinematographer, Rex Miller; original score by David Majzlin.

Distributor credits

A film by Rex Miller

Docuseek2 subjects

African-American Studies
Civil Rights
Cultural Anthropology
U.S. History
Women's Studies
Race and Racism
Black History

Distributor subjects

African American Studies
American Studies
Civil Rights
Cultural Anthropology
High School Use
History (U.S.)
Women's Studies


tennis; women's studies; black; african-american; american; history; "Althea"; Icarus Films

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