In 1951, Althea Gibson became the first African American tennis player to make it to Wimbledon. In 1956, she became the first person of color to win a Grand Slam Title in tennis—the French Open. In 1963, Arthur Ashe became the first African American man selected for the United States Davis Cup Team. In 1975, he became the first African American male tennis player to win the Wimbledon singles title. Both of these legendary black tennis players were coached by the same legendary, but largely unknown coach—Dr. Robert Walter Johnson of Lynchburg, Virginia. During the period of segregation in the southern United States, African American tennis players lacked access to tennis facilities that were restricted to white players. Dr. Johnson utilized the tennis court he had built on his home's side yard to provide training for young African American players. Now the Whirlwind Johnson Foundation is working to raise funds to restore Dr. Johnson's home and historic tennis court.
Fundraising continues to preserve home of Lynchburg doctor who helped break tennis color barrier
By Sherese A. Gore
The News Advance
March 4, 2017