Saturday, August 31, 2019

Saturday 31st August 2019...all about tennis!!!

Beautiful sunny morning for tennis and we had a new player join our foursome today.

Without being egotistical I am the best player of the group but Andy the new guy is young and extremely good.....it brought up the level of the rest of us and it was a great two hours!!


Andy and I were talking after the game and he was born and raised in England but left when he was six years old to move to the USA....what a small world he was born in Sheffield, my home town and his house was about two miles from where I used to live!!


This is a very long article so don’t feel obliged to read it all!!!



The Origins of Tennis - History of Tennis

Amazingly, the historical development of tennis dates back several thousands of years. So, people who are involve in historical researches of this great sport claim to have found evidence of playing tennis in ancient Greece culture.

The History of tennis game was developed from a  12th century French handball game called "Paume" (palm). In this game the ball was struck with the hand. After some time "Paume" game produced handball "Jeu de Paume" (game of the palm) and there were used racquets. The game was first created by European monks for entertainment roles during ceremonial occasions. At first, the ball was hit with hands. Later, the leather glove came into existence. This leather glove was replaced with an adaptive handle for effective hitting and serving of the ball. That was a birth of tennis racquet.

                                                                                  

Development of tennis racquet , tennis balls also underwent  frequent modifications. First tennis ball was from wood. Later in the history of tennis ball was filled with cellulose material to gave way to a bouncier. Monks from all areas of Europe favored "Jeu de Paume" game during 14th century much to the chagrin of the mother Church. The game spread and evolved in Europe.

The game became very popular, especially in France, where was adopted by the royal family. In the year of 1316 French king Louis X dies after hard  "Jeu de Paume" game (other terms of  this stage of game are Royal Tennis in Great Britain, Royal Tennis in Australia, Court Tennis in the United States), but this death does null to damp the popularity of the recreation.

16th Century - History of Tennis

Between the 16th and 18th centuries the game of the palm was highly regarded by kings and nobleman. The French players would begin the palm game by shouting the word "Tenez" (Play!). The palm game soon came to be called "real tennis" or "royal".

1530s HISTORY OF TENNIS English king Henry VIII builds a tennis court at Hampton Court Palace (This court no longer exist but a similar court built there in 1625 and is in use until today).

1583 FIRST RACKET IN THE HISTORY OF TENNIS The first racquet was invented in Italy (history of tennis - web source).

19th Century History of Tennis

1870 WIMBLEDON HISTORY OF TENNIS In the Wimbledon district of London established All England Croquet Club. Tennis is still an indoor game played by royal and rich benefactors.

1873 LAWN TENNIS Major Walter Wingfield invented a version of Real Tennis that can be played outdoors on a lawn. The game called ‘Sphairistike’ (Greek for "playing ball" ) and first introduced it to Wales(UK). Played on hour-glass courts on Manor House lawns by rich English people. This is really where today's tennis developed. Wingfield deals Sphairistike in boxes that feature two net posts, a net, rackets, and India rubber balls, plus instructions about laying out the court and actually playing the game. Wingfield’s boxes kick start the modern form of tennis, though the one thing that doesn’t work is the name, and Wingfield soon realizes that his subtitle "lawn tennis" is much better than greek word "Sphairistike".

                                                              

1874 FIRST LAWN TENNIS TOURNAMENT IN THE USA Joseph and Clarence Clark (brothers), take one of Walter Wingfield’s boxes to America, leading to the first lawn tennis tournament in the USA later that year.

1875 ALL ENGLAND CROQUET CLUB & History of tennis Henry Cavendish Jones convinced the All England Croquet Club to replace a croquet court with a lawn tennis court. Marylebone Cricket Club followed suit. Marylebone Cricket Club made significant changes to the game. They added Deuce, Advantage, and 2 chances per serve. The hourglass-shaped court also changed to a rectangular court, identical to the measurements we use today.

1877 FIRST WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP & History of tennis The very first World Tennis Championship was held at Worple Road in Wimbledon,London (UK).The sponsors were the All England Croquet Club. Only 22 players entered the Mens Singles, which was the only event. Spectators paid a mere one shilling to watch the finals. The first winner of this mens event in the tennis history of Wimbledon was Spencer Gore.

1880 BIRTH OF OVERHEAD SMASH The overhead smash was introduced into the game for the first time in the history of tennis by the Renshaw brothers in Wimbledon. They would dominate Wimbledon for a decade, winning all but 1880 and 1887 championships between them in the history of tennis.Overhead smash is a shot played above the head, hitting the ball downwards, hard and fast into your opponents side of the court.

1881 FIRST US OPEN - history of tennis America founded The United States National Lawn Tennis Association (USNLTA) , and in the same year it holds its first National Championship, the forerunner of the US Open but then restricted to American residents. It is held at Newport, Rhode Island. First winner in the history of tennis US National Championships was Dick Sears.

1884 FIRST M/W DOUBLES CHAMPIONSHIPS  The Wimbledon Championships are open to women for the first time. There are only 13 participants. Mens doubles was also introduced for the first time in the history of tennis.

1887 WOMEN U.S. CHAMPIONSHIPS & history of tennis U.S. Championships are open to women for the first time. Lottie Dod wins her first Wimbledon Ladies Singles (Lottie win her first singles match with only 15 years).

1888 LTA & history of tennis Lawn Tennis Association founded (LTA) in order to maintain the new rules and standards of tennis.

1891 FRENCH CHAMPIONSHIPS & history of tennis The very first French Championships are played, these Championships were open for French residents only.

1896 OLYMPIC GAMES Tennis became one of the core sports in the first modern Olympic Games.

1897 WOMEN ON FRENCH CHAMPIONSHIPS The French Championships are open to women for the first time in the french tennis history.

1899 ALL ENGLAND TENNIS & CROQUET CLUB The England Croquet


Tennis History of 20th Century

1900 TENNIS HISTORY OF DAVIS CUP Dwight F.Davis, a Harvard university student decides to degree a team challenge match between the United States and the British Isles. The cup was engraved as "International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy", later known as the Davis Cup.

1905 AUSTRALIAN OPEN FOUNDED The Australasian National Championships, later became known as Australian Open are founded, with the venue alternating between centers in Australia and New Zealand.

1912 TENNIS HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL LAWN TENNIS FEDERATION The International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF) is born with an aim of operating the 4 major tennis championships (Wimbledon Championships, U.S. Championships, Australasian Championships and French Championships).

1913 TENNIS HISTORY OF ILTF Founded with 13 members representing 14 countries. The aim is to ensure the sport grows with regular scoring and minimum difference between country members (1977. became ITF).

1919 SUZANNE LENGLEN WON FIRST WIMBLEDON TITLE Suzanne Lenglen, the first tennis sensation wins the Wimbledon Ladies Championships title, the first of 12 titles at what are later become the Grand Slam tournaments. She mixes relentless accuracy with balletic elegance, and enchances tennis's profile as a popular sport and very contributed to history of tennis.

                                        

1922 AUSTRALASIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS OPEN FOR WOMEN The Australasian Championships are open to women for the first time(tennis history source from web).

1924 TENNIS WITDRAWN FROM OLYMPIC GAMES Tennis retired from the Olympic Games referring a lack of professionalism in the arrangement and Olyimpic Games desire to not schedule Wimbledon Championships in an year of the Olympic Games.

1925 FRENCH CHAMPIONSHIPS RULE "FRENCH RESIDENTS ONLY" DROPPED Finally "French residents only" rule is dropped by the French Championships. Australasian championships became Australian Championships and would be hosted only in territory of Australia.

1927 TENNIS HISTORY OF ROLAND GARROS In the Wimbledon Championships idea of seeding players was presented for the first time. The French win the davis Cup , The French national association gets land ont the edge of Paris from the city authorities, builds a new tennis stadium, and names it Roland Garros (he was French war hero in First World War).

1928 ROLAND GARROS HOSTED FRENCH CHAMPIONSHIPS The Stade Roland Garros hosts the French Championships for the first time in the history of tennis.

1930 TENNIS RACQUETS IMPROVED One-piece Ash wood tennis racquets reaplaced with laminted wood.

1933 TENNIS HISTORY OF JACK CRAWFORD Australian Jack Crawford comes within one set of winning all four major titles in the same year. There are mutterings that he is on the verge of a "Grand Slam" - taken from the card game Bridge.It was truly an extraordinary sporting achievement Until today, it managed only a handful of outstanding tennis players, really a great moment in the history of tennis, right?

                            

1938 TENNIS HISTORY OF DON BUDGE The first tennis player to complete the tennis history of Grand Slam of all 4 Championships in the same year was the American Don Budge.The New York Times tennis correspondent Allison Danzig uses the phrase ‘a Grand Slam in tennis’, thereby entrenching the term in tennis vocabulary of tennis history.

1947 TENNIS HISTORY OF JACK KRAMER Jack Kramer wins Wimbledon. He had involved to turn professional the previous year but was determined to win Wimbledon once, to give credibility to his assault on the professional circuit, both as a player and as an entrepreneur. He was to become one of the most influential figures of the modern tennis world.

1950 PRO TOUR BECAME POPULAR Pro Tour created by Jack Cramer becomes very popular with both amateur tennis players and the public (history of tennis web source).

1953 TENNIS HISTORY OF MAUREEN CONNELLY She was first woman who win all 4 Chamiponships in history of tennis and complete the "Grand Slam".

1960 DEBATE FOR THE IDEA OF OPEN TENNIS Determined by years of charges of ‘shamateurism’, the ILTF annual meeting debates a move to get tennis ‘open’ (to end the split amateur and professional circuits that had plagued the sport since the 1920s). The idea is defeated by five votes. It meant the four Grand Slam tournaments remained purely for ‘amateurs’, and any man who had won a couple of majors in their early 20s of tennis history was likely to leave the official circuit to earn money as a touring professional.

1967 WILSON'S FIRST METAL RACQUET The first metal tennis racquet appears thanks to Wilson. Wimbledon holds a demonstration tournament for professionals, and declares that its 1968 championships will be open to all participants, amateurs and professionals. It's the sign for tennis to go "open".



20th Century - Open Era of Tennis History

1968 TENNIS HISTORY OF OPEN ERA The first official "open" tournament takes place at Bournemouth on the English south coast, and the first Grand Slam, the newly named French Open, leads in a new era. Ken Rosewall, a returning professional won both events.

1969 TENNIS HISTORY OF ROD LAVER Rodney George "Rod" Laver of Australia becomes the first man to win a pure "open" Grand Slam, by taking all four major titles in the same year.Rod Laver completed his first Grand Slam in 1962 and second in 1969 - he is the only player in history to achieve two Grand Slams.

                                                   

1970 TENNIS HISTORY OF TIE BREAK The tiebreak is introduced to Grand Slam tennis, as the US Open adopts the nine-point shootout (sudden death at 4-4). The winner of the tie-break was the first person to reach five points. Jack Kramer introduces a point system for tennis tournaments depending on how far players go in tournaments and on the end of season prize money goes to player who had most points (tennis history web sources).

1972 ATP ASSOCIATION FORMED The Association of Tennis Professionals is formed and Jack Kramer is chosen as first Executive Director in tennis history.

1973 NIKKI PILIC SUSPENSION Wimbledon is boycotted by the ATP following the suspension of Yugoslav Nikki Pilic.

1976 FIRST GRAPHITE AND FIBERGLASS RACQUET Thanks to Howard Head first graphite and fiberglass racquets appear on the tennis scene in the tennis history. In the Wimbledon Championships Swedish player Bjorn Borg won his first title in singles.

1977 US OPEN MOVED TO FLUSHING MEADOWS As Wimbledon celebrates its centenary, the US Open offers farewell to the private setting of the Westside Club at Forest Hills, to move to a non-club national tennis centre nearby at Flushing Meadows. The last US Open at Forest Hills begins with Renée Richards, a transsexual who had played in the men’s singles as Richard Raskind in 1960, becoming the first (and only) person to have played in both the men’s and women’s singles at Grand Slam level.

1980 TIE BREAK SHOOTOUT RECORD The tiebreak comes of age in a 34 point shootout in the Wimbledon Championships final when Bjorn Borg has seven championship points to beat John McEnroe in four sets, but McEnroe saves them all, and converts his seventh point to take the match into a fifth set. Borg wins it 8-6. Great piece of tennis history.

1984 CLAY INDOOR SURFACE & TENNIS ON OLYMPICS AGAIN Clay develops into a temporary indoor surface when Sweden becomes the first country to install a makeshift clay court for a Davis Cup tie. And no ordinary tie – it’s the final, and the visit to Gothenburg’s Scandinavium arena of one of the strongest Davis Cup teams in tennis history: world No. 1 John McEnroe, No. 2 Jimmy Connors, and the world’s best doubles team, McEnroe and Peter Fleming. By Saturday night, Sweden is the champion for the loss of one set, and clay is established as a surface option for indoor ties. Tennis also returns to the Olympic Games as a test event for under-21 players at Los Angeles and is won by Stefan Edberg and Steffi Graf.

1985 TENNIS HISTORY OF BORIS BECKER The German player Boris Becker was the youngest ever and first unseeded Wimbledon Mens Singles Champion with only 17 years (precisely 17 years and 227 days old).

1988 AUSTRALIAN OPEN MOVES -The Australian Open Championships moves into the modern era of tennis history with a new national tennis centre at Flinders Park (later renamed Melbourne Park), characterised by the first tennis stadium with a retractable roof. Steffi Graf beats Chris Evert in the first ‘indoor’ Grand Slam final.

                                                  

1989 ATP TOUR TRANSFORMATION TENNIS HISTORY The ATP transforms itself from a players’ union into a tour body. In an announcement made in the US Open’s parking lot, it says it will take over the running of the men’s tour in January 1990 from the Men’s International Professional Tennis Council, that had operated under the ITF’s auspices, and henceforth be known as the ‘ATP Tour’. A feature of the new tour is an elite series of nine events, the ‘Super Nine’ (now the Masters Series). With the breakaway denoting a form of civil war in tennis, the Grand Slam tournaments form their own year-ending tournament to start in 1990 called ‘The Grand Slam Cup’. It will share a prize money pool of (a then massive) $1.5 million among 16 players and two reserves. The rival year-ending events were to last another 10 years in the tennis history before peace broke out in 1999

1990 TENNIS HISTORY OF MARTINA NAVRATILOVA Martina Navratilova became the Wimbledon ladies Singles Champion for a record 9th time.

1994 INDOOR GRASS TENNIS COURT Tennis on grass is played in indoor conditions for the first time in the tennis history, when the new retractable roof on the Gerry Weber Stadium in Halle, Germany, is closed to allow play to continue during rain.Martina Navratilova retires from singles tennis, having won a record 167 singles titles, a record 1438 matches won, and an 9 Wimbledon titles.

21st Century - A New Open Era of Tennis History

2001 TENNIS HISTORY OF GORAN IVANISEVIC In Wimbledon Championships tennis history Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia became the first Wimbledon wildcard in history of tennis to win the Mens Singles title.

2002 VENUS & SERENA WILIAMS Venus and Serena Williams become the first sisters in tennis history to be ranked #1 and #2 in the WTA world rankings list.

2003 PETE SAMPRAS Pete Sampras retires from tennis at a US Open farewell ceremony. He won 64 singles titles (4th highest ever) including a record 14 Grand Slam titles - 2 AO, 5 US Open and 7 Wimbledon.

2004 YEAR OF ROGER FEDERER IN TENNIS HISTORY Roger Federer becomes the first man in tennis history since Mats Wilander in 1988 to win three of the four grand slam events (Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open) in a calendar year. He also captured an ATP-best 11 titles in as many finals, including the end-of-season Masters Cup. And also set an Open Era record by winning 13 consecutive finals (dating back to 2003), surpassing Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe who won 12 straight finals.

2005 NEW DOUBLES TIE BREAK SCORING SYSTEM The ATP (having dropped the word ‘Tour’ from its name in 2000) introduces a different scoring system for doubles matches, with sudden death points at deuce (‘no advantage’) and a first-to-ten-points tiebreak in place of a final set. Roger Federer's 25-match winning streak (the longest in men's tennis since 1984) ended at the hands of 18-year-old Richard Gasquet in Monte Carlo. Another great moment in tennis history.

2006 ANDRE AGASSI RETIRES The greatest showman in tennis history - Andre Agassi - retires on 3 September 2006 following a 7-5 6-7(4) 6-4 7-5 defeat to Benjamin Becker (GER) in the third round of the US Open.The right for players to challenge dubious line calls by electronic review is introduced in the Miami Masters Series tournament and makes its Grand Slam debut at the US Open later that year.

2007 TENNIS HISTORY OF RAFAEL NADAL On the 19 May, Rafael Nadal claims 81 straight wins on clay to set a new all surface record. His run was ended by Roger Federer in the Hamburg Masters final the following day. On the 9 September, Roger Federer became the first man in tennis history since Bill Tilden in the 1920s to win 4 US Open titles in a row, beating Novak Djokovic in the final.

2009 ROGER FEDERER On 7 June, Roger Federer became arguably the greatest tennis player of all time in tennis history with his victory at the French Open. Federer joins Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Andre Agassi as winner of all four Grand Slam titles, and equals the 14 Grand Slam titles claimed by Pete Sampras - who never managed to win on the clay of Roland Garros. On 20 April, Marat Safin and Dinara Safina became the first brother and sister to reach world number one in tennis history. Marat became achieved the top ranking on 20 November 2000. Roger Federer secure No. 1 postion on the end of seson with victory over Andy Murray in three sets at London ATP Finals on 25 November. Winning a championship takes years of hard work, quick reflexes and amazing senses. Without great eyesight your chances of winning a match would be low. 


I will end with a funny...





Yashi Kochi!!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Friday 30th August 2019...group hike!!!

You have heard me talk before about the Civil list here in SMA..it is an open forum for residents and non residents to ask questions, offer advice that sort of thing...like any public forum it gets abused..you know someone posts I like the ABC restaurant and then someone else posts they had a bad meal there..and so on...


I use it quite often and always get great results.....after my wonderful waterfall hike on Tuesday I decided to post an open invitation to anyone wanting to join me on the hike again this morning....I just wanted to share the beauty and so close to town...I have done this before and had met some nice people.


So I was very happily surprised that 15 people and one dog showed up this morning at the meeting place.


After a quick introduction away we went.......I have to say it was a great success everyone was thrilled with the scenery and the adventure so close to the big supermarket in town..we were gone for 4 hours!!


Here are some shared photos of the group and the hike

















 there was not the huge flow of water as I experienced on Tuesday but still very very nice!!


September is a huge celebrity month and every little store selling Mexican flags and stickers so I bought one...


What do you think??







The plants look healthy!!


Tennis on the TV  again for me tonight!!!


Yashi Kochi!!!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Thursday 29th August 2019.....short and very sweet!!

At last back on the tennis courts this morning for two hours...


It felt really good to be back out..



Great fun with good friends!!!

Yashi Kochi!!








Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Wednesday 28th August 2019....not a busy day!!!

With such a busy day yesterday today was at a much slower pace....had a nice breakfast out on my side patio and then went and did a few chores in town before coming home and getting my place cleaned up as Anita comes every Wednesday afternoon to clean.


I went to poker it is good it is only a couple of minutes away on the scooter..it was nice to see my buddies again and even nicer to come away with 150 pesos win.





Tonight is a home night watching live tennis from New York..as I mentioned before hard to imagine a year flew by since I was there sitting in the stands!!


Yashi Kochi!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Tuesday 27th August 2019....A day in my life in Mexico!!!

So come with me on my typical Mexican day.....


Starting around 8 am..sitting up in bed with a cuppa tea and checking out stuff on the Internet whilst looking out my five bay windows at the mountains!!


I then have fresh strawberries and yogurt for breakfast, get on the scooter and go into town to do some chores....


On the way I see this amazing sight!!!



A workman on a ladder, a flower girl and a donkey with soil on his back!!!


Then went to this lady for my fresh veggies and fruit and finally home!





I sit and watch about an hour of live tennis from NYC and then decide it is time for a visit to my favourite hike in SMA especially in the rainy season!!


These fantastic shots all take place with an easy 45 minute walk from the big grocery store La Commer.


The hike is up to the cross....can you see it??






 but first I cross a small stream and then trek through some brush coming out at this entrance to the canyon!





From here it is about twenty minutes uphill but the views on the way are rewarding..





Finally at the summit and I never get tired of this view!!!







Then it is a flat short walk to here....see anything??









Yes a suspense bridge!!


The bridge is private and I just went on about twenty feet to get this view!!








Did you know I love waterfalls!!


Next I drop down into the canyon where I love to sit and think..where the graffiti is there is another waterfall...





Finally the top where the rain water runs down from the mountains..





Over the rocks...







Into the pool...


This is where I had my lunch..


On the way back out of the canyon I came across my favourite animals....it seems when ever I come here I always see the white horse I had some 🥕 with me but this time she would not come to me..maybe too many horses around!!









Always see these guys....







I came around the bend and meet two older woman and a man, they looked to be indigenous and I said hello and started to tell them in my broken Spanish how nice it was up here when one of the women started answering in English ...her English was better than my Spanish.


We chatted for a few minutes and I told her how good her English was and I also told her about the School because she said she wanted to improve her English....I told her when registration was and if she was interested I would pay her first semester tuition, only 400 pesos...will be fun to see if she takes me up on my offer!!


The trip back down was easy and I was back at the scooter less than three hours later...


Stopped at this local restaurant 





For their daily take out special of country fried chicken...



I had been home no less than ten minutes when the skies opened again and another huge downpour and thunder!!







Now had dinner, a long hot shower and settling down to watch Nadal play in NYC!!


How was that for a day??


Yashi Kochi!!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Monday 26th August 2019...RAIN!!!

There is this amazing rain and thunder and lightening storm going on right now and has for the past 90 minutes..the streets are like rivers!!!

I can bet the courts will be closed and my tennis cancelled mañana!!

The US Tennis Open starts today and I am enjoying watching the live night game..especially after I was there in person last year!!!

Yashi Kochi!!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sunday 25 th August 2019......re grouping!!

I did not have a very good sleep, maybe over tired.....


I went over for breakfast at Gracie’s and got caught up on all our news and of course took Scout and Einstein for a walk!!


Went to the grocery store and stocked up and spent the rest of the day and evening sorting and re arranging..my place looks fabulous!!


As I was going through some photos I brought back with me found this gem that my Dad took in the summer of 1966 in Finland 🇫🇮..even back then I was a jokester!!





I also like these two quotes!!









This is a long article taken from the BBC sport website but I found it interesting and informative..hope you do too!!


Everything was white. The balls, the clothes, the socks, the shoes, the people. Ev-ery-thing."

Billie Jean King grimaces as she slowly emphasises that final word. The American tennis great is describing how the US National Championships - the forerunner of the US Open, which starts on Monday - looked 70 years ago.

Whether it was a written or an unwritten rule is still not clear. Nevertheless, it was an indisputable stance from the United States Tennis Association (USTA): black players were not permitted to enter.

Imagine Serena Williams, Venus Williams or Coco Gauff being barred from playing at their home Grand Slam because of the colour of their skin.

In 1949, that is exactly what Althea Gibson had to live with.

On Monday, a bronze sculpture of Gibson, the first black player to win a Grand Slam, will be unveiled outside Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows in New York - the world's biggest tennis arena named after another pioneering African-American.

These two tributes stand as testaments to obstacles overcome, during a time when the United States was politically and socially rooted in racial segregation.

Yet the lack of recognition Gibson experienced during her life - she died in 2003, aged 76 - left her feeling neglected, pushed to the periphery of the sport she loved and eventually into poverty, which left her considering suicide.

"Althea was a forgotten pioneer - until recently," Bob Davis, Gibson's former hitting partner and now a historian of black tennis, tells BBC Sport.

"Now it seems the United States is willing to recognise that black tennis history was actually American tennis history. That has not always been the case."

"As they laid the court we were first ones on, we stayed on and we challenged anyone in the block to play us. Nobody would."

Ten miles from Flushing Meadows - across Queen's and over the East River on the Robert F Kennedy Bridge into Manhattan - is Harlem.

Regarded as the cultural epicentre of black America, the borough has been renowned for artistic and sporting flair since the 1920s, when almost 200,000 African-Americans migrated to the predominantly white area north of Central Park to escape the still-segregated south of the country.

Despite some complaints about gentrification eroding its long-established identity, Harlem - characterised by fire-escape clad row houses, wide boulevards lined with restaurants, street traders selling anything from fruit and nuts to jewellery and T-shirts - is still predominantly occupied by black Americans. Some 61% of Harlem's 112,495 population is black, according to the US Census Bureau, compared to 24.4% across the whole of New York.

The fabric of the present-day neighbourhood was woven by an explosion of creativity - known as the Harlem Renaissance - which saw revered names across stage, screen and sport nurtured in, or attracted to, the neighbourhood over the next few decades.

Jazz legends Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington regularly dazzled in front of packed audiences at Connie's Inn or the Cotton Club. Another famous Harlem nightclub, the Smalls Paradise, was owned by NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain.

Boxing great Sugar Ray Robinson, meanwhile, traded business as well as punches, running the Golden Gloves Barber Shop, Sugar Ray's Quality Cleaners and Edna Mae's Lingerie Shop outside of the ring.

Gibson was another notable former resident.

The daughter of sharecroppers, she was born in the cotton fields of South Carolina, a Deep South state with a history rooted in slavery and exploitation.

"I worked for three years for nothing. I had to get out of there," Gibson's father Daniel said. Harlem beckoned.

Gibson playing paddle tennis in the streets of Harlem - having already become a champion

Gibson was raised in a small apartment block on West 143rd Street, between Lenox Avenue and Seventh Avenue, a cross-section blocked off every afternoon to become a 'play street', where inner-city children without access to a park could run around and practise sport in a safe space.

These days, the narrow avenue - typically Harlem with five-storey blocks of rented flats guarded by London plane trees and lines of cars on each side of the one-way road - is not taped off.

On a sweaty August afternoon, even when local children are out of school for the summer holidays, it is virtually silent.

Back when Gibson was growing up, in the 1930s and 1940s, it would have been a hive of activity, shrieking kids running around playing stickball, punchball, marbles and a variety of tag games. And as fate had it, there was another activity taking place on the doorstep of her childhood home.

"It all started with paddle tennis on the play streets of New York City," Gibson told a BBC Radio 4 programme in 1989.

"Two bats and a sponge rubber ball. A short net and a short court. A friend of mine came round, we saw the bats and ball on the paddle tennis court so we started hitting back and forth.

"From that moment on we would get up in the morning as soon as they laid the court. That's how I got started."

The tall, athletic teenager with a fierce will to win and streetwise spirit - said to have been borne out of her father forcing her to fight him on the rooftop of their apartment block - began to attract attention.

Buddy Walker, the organiser of the play street on West 143rd, and a bandleader at a Harlem bar run by Robinson, spotted this precocious talent and took her to the Cosmopolitan Club, a private tennis club for the black middle classes in West Harlem.

There she started having lessons with the club's one-armed professional, Fred Johnson. He honed her raw talent and developed the powerful serve and athleticism that became hallmarks of her game.

Gibson, who had been playing truant and sometimes slept on the subway to avoid going home, had the on-court talent. She struggled more when mixing with the doctors, lawyers and scholars who also played at the Cosmopolitan.

"She was a blue-collar kid and the black folks playing tennis were the bourgeoisie, who would try to school her in etiquette," Rex Miller, a film director inspired to produce the documentary Althea after seeing a picture of his mother playing against Gibson, tells BBC Sport.

"But she was rebellious, even against more well-to-do blacks. When people are doing things for you it usually comes with strings attached so she had a way of alienating people who would ask her to do things."

That unwillingness to co-operate changed after she met the men described by Davis as "the two godfathers of black tennis in America".

Dr Hubert Eaton and Dr Robert Johnson, two scholars with notable tennis ability who nurtured promising black players, spotted Gibson at the all-black American Tennis Association (ATA) national championship in 1946 and were astounded by her natural, yet combustible, ability.

Here, they thought, might be their Jackie Robinson - an athlete who could break down the racial barriers in tennis just like the Harlem-based Brooklyn Dodgers star was doing in baseball.

While excited by her talent, they felt her lack of education and discipline would hamper her progress. So they concocted a plan: she would live and train with Dr Eaton, the chief surgeon at the African-American hospital in Wilmington, North Carolina, during the school year, then stay with Dr Johnson in Lynchburg, Virginia, in the summer.

"Both Dr Eaton and Dr Johnson were what you referred to then as 'racemen'," Miller says.

"Both were civil rights organisers and they had a plan to create the first black tennis champion. Althea was their charge."

"Shaking hands with the Queen of England was a long way from being forced to sit in the coloured section of the bus going into downtown Wilmington."

Racial segregation in the United States stopped black Americans mixing with their white counterparts across several lines, including education, employment and transportation.

The divide also existed in tennis. Black players were not allowed to compete in the US National Championships, instead forming the ATA and holding their own tournament.

Gibson, who graduated from high school aged 18 and later went on to study at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University on a sports scholarship in her 20s, won 10 straight ATA national titles between 1947 and 1956.

"It was just normal. We weren't allowed to play in white tournaments, and that's how it had been since the start of the 20th Century," remembers Davis, another Harlem-raised kid who became Gibson's hitting partner in the mid-50s when they were both guided by renowned coach Sydney Llewellyn.

"We didn't feel particularly troubled by it. That's just the way it was and we played among ourselves."

That changed in 1950 when reigning national champion Alice Marble wrote a scathing magazine article challenging the USTA's stance.

Gibson, pictured here with Marble at Forest Hills in 1950, went on to win five Grand Slam singles titles - the French Open (1956), Wimbledon (1957, 1958) and the US Open (1957, 1958)

"The question I'm most frequently expected to answer is whether Althea Gibson will be permitted to play in the nationals this year," Marble wrote.

"When I directed the question to a committee member of long standing he answered in the negative: 'Ms Gibson will not be permitted to play and it will be the reluctant duty of the committee to reject her entry.'

"I think it is time we faced a few facts. If tennis is a game for ladies and gentleman, it is time we acted a little more like gentle people and less like sanctimonious hypocrites."

The white powerbrokers retreated under increasing pressure and allowed Gibson to play at Forest Hills. Finally she was able to do what she had been yearning: to test herself against the world's best players regardless of colour.

"Alice Marble's letter was a turning point," Davis says. "It said things we couldn't say.

"People would not hear us if we were to say it, but coming from a prominent world-class athlete like her it carried a lot of weight.

"I believe Alice's letter also opened the doors to the other Grand Slams and enabled Althea to win them."

"They kept telling me I said: 'At last! At last!'"

Perched on the top of the Forest Hills stadium in Queens are 11 stone eagles.

At the former home of the US Open, one was struck by lightning and sent crashing, smashing to the floor.

Unfortunately for Gibson, this incident ruined her maiden appearance at the national championships. It proved symbolic.

Blocking out racial taunts, she appeared on course to beat Louise Brough, then ranked as the world's best female player, in their second-round match.

Suddenly, the sky turned apocalyptic.

Startling sun was replaced by a torrential thunderstorm, and the demise of the ornamental eagle led to play being called off for the day.

When they returned the following morning, Gibson could not regain her momentum and she lost the match.

"It was as if the tennis gods were saying this can't happen, we've got to do something to stop this match," Leslie Allen, a former world number 17 who in 1981 became the first African-American woman to win a major tournament since Gibson, said in Miller's 2014 film.

Eventually, nothing would stop Gibson proving, categorically and at last, that she was the world's best.

The landmark moment arrived in 1956. She became the first black player to win a Grand Slam title with victory at the French Championships.

She would dominate the women's game over the next three years, reaching 14 Grand Slam finals - seven singles and seven doubles.

The most eye-catching of her 10 victories came in the 1957 Wimbledon final.

Landing the most prestigious tennis prize on the planet finally introduced her talent to a wider audience across the Atlantic, many of whom had previously had been reluctant to acknowledge it.

Now, here was a sharecropper's daughter, raised on the tough streets of Harlem, shaking hands with the Queen.

Gibson was presented with the Venus Rosewater Dish by Queen Elizabeth II when she won Wimbledon in 1957

It was a seminal moment. One which few African-Americans thought they would see. Arriving back in New York, Gibson sat on the back of an open-top car, waved and blew kisses as an estimated 100,000 people lined up along Broadway to mark her achievement.

Yet that adulation did not last.

Gibson drifted out of the sport, but never too far from the limelight. Her sultry voice saw her front an album called Althea Gibson Sings, she acted alongside Hollywood star John Wayne in a western, and later became the first black woman to play on the professional golf tour.

Despite this, she became a name lost to the generations which followed.

On the street where she grew up in Harlem, the few people milling about on a quiet Thursday afternoon - two elderly residents returning home from the grocery store, workers at a New York City Housing Authority office, a middle-aged man delivering leaflets - do not even know her name.

"There were many years lost in recognising who she was, what she accomplished, what she overcame," Katrina Adams, the USTA's first black president, who describes Gibson as her "shero", tells BBC Sport.

"But I also think, particularly in America, we weren't ready to put our African-American players on a pedestal and revere them like we are today. Timing is everything.

"It is unfortunate because someone like Althea, for what she accomplished, never got the notoriety she deserved while she was living."

"Being the Queen of Tennis is all well and good - but you can't eat a crown, nor can you send the Internal Revenue Service a throne clipped to their tax forms. The landlord and grocer and tax collector are funny that way: they like cold cash..."

Like Gibson, Angela Buxton was an outsider in the tennis world.

Having experienced anti-Semitism throughout her career, the Briton player says she too had paths blocked by those in power, and also suffered the same unfriendliness from other female players.

"Althea took to me because I was a loner as well. She felt we had something in common," Buxton, now 85 and living in Greater Manchester, remembers.

"She wasn't awfully appealing in a friendly way. Nobody had taught her growing up, how to act or how to behave.

"She used to aggravate people, but for some reason or another she didn't aggravate me, I used to laugh when she said something naughty or rude.

"The discrimination Althea and I both faced brought us together initially and was a bond between us - but we never talked about it."

Aside from tennis, a mutual fondness for films and salt beef sandwiches cemented their friendship and resulted in a doubles partnership which claimed the French Championships and Wimbledon titles in 1956.

"Rather than sitting around doing nothing, we decided to play doubles. I asked her and she said: 'No-one has ever asked me before - of course I will.'

"We played and were much much better than anyone else. We won easily.

"We weren't trying to prove a point. In hindsight, there was some history-making there - in being outsiders, joining forces and beating everybody.

"I can see it now quite clearly, but we didn't then."

The burgeoning partnership did not last long. Buxton suffered a debilitating wrist injury, which forced her retirement a year later.

Gibson, disillusioned because she felt her success had not completely destroyed the colour barrier in tennis, also retired shortly after her second Wimbledon singles win in 1958, with her finances in a parlous state.

A far cry from the riches of today's game, where the 11 highest-earning sportswomen over the past year are all tennis players, Gibson earned little money in the days before the professional era.

"There was no money in the game, and she had no money to start with, so she was in a very difficult position," Buxton says.

"She didn't look after money well. If she had money she would spend it.

"Nobody had explained to her what you're supposed to do with money; that you're not supposed to spend it all in one go."

Angela Buxton and Althea Gibson combined to win the Wimbledon doubles title in 1956

For years the pair had little contact. Then, in 1995, from a basic, rented flat in Orange, New Jersey, Gibson made a call to Buxton. She called to say goodbye.

"She hadn't got the money to pay for rent, for food or for medication. She wasn't well and she didn't know where any more money was going to come in," Buxton said.

"So she said she was going away. I asked 'where?' She was going to do herself in."


Buxton convinced her friend suicide was not the route to take, reassuring Gibson that she would send her enough money - about $1,500 - to cover that month's expenses.

"I sent her the money but didn't intend to send it forever. I intended to do something, but on the spur of the moment I didn't know what," Buxton says.

Eventually she came up with a plan. With the help of a journalist friend, she wrote to the prestigious Tennis Week magazine and asked them to print a letter outlining Gibson's predicament.

And then... they heard nothing.

"It was very strange. But five months later, out of the blue, I got a call from an American woman playing at Forest Hills. She had seen it on page three - letters to the editor - and said she would like to help.

"Then money started flowing in from all over the world."

After initially denying knowing anything about the letters which packed Gibson's mailbox, Buxton felt guilty about misleading her friend and revealed all. Gibson intuitively already knew.

With Buxton already set to be in New York for that year's US Open, the pair spent almost the whole two weeks sitting around the coffee table at Gibson's home opening all the post.

In all types of currencies, there was close to a million dollars.

Not only did the money allow Gibson to survive, Buxton says it allowed her to make two final lavish purchases: a new Cadillac car and a large television so she could pass the time watching sport.

Buxton claims a number of high-profile tennis stars ignored Gibson's pleas for financial help before her intervention, which she believes gave the American "another eight years of life" before she died in 2003, having suffered from deteriorating respiratory problems.

What would Gibson say if she could see a life-size monument of herself being unveiled at the home of the USTA - 70 years after she was not even allowed to play at the US Open? Buxton takes barely a second to think before answering.

"Oh, she would probably say it is about time too. Because she wasn't against blowing her own trumpet. Finally other people are doing it for her."

US Open 2019


Yashi Kochi!!!

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