They triumphed on the court, in a society that did not welcome them.
Tennis champions Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe rank among the greatest sports figures of the 20th century.
Their success in a game that had been as white as the togs worn at Wimbledon inspired a generation of African American athletes, including former Women’s Tennis Association pros Leslie Allen and Kyle Copeland-Muse.
Allen, now a Morristown resident, and Copeland-Muse, of Morris Township, will share their memories of Gibson and Ashe at a free screening of the documentary Althea & Arthur on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, at Morristown’s Mayo Performing Arts Center.
The retired players appear in the film, which premiered during Black History Month on the CBS Sports Network. A panel discussion will follow the 7 pm screening in MPAC’s Starlight Room. Although the event is free, seating is limited and reservations are suggested.
In an interview with Morristown Green, Allen recalled Gibson as a fierce competitor in every endeavor she attempted.
“There’s so much to learn from her: Humble beginnings, a high school dropout, winning and defending titles, and a singer!” said Allen, now a realtor and life coach for athletes. “And then she did it again in golf. Who does that?”
Ashe was great model off the court, recounted Copeland-Muse, now an interior designer.
“Every time you talked to Arthur, it was never about tennis. He talked about religion, travel, apartheid….HIV was just another thing for him to study. To me, he was just an extraordinary person, an amazing human being,” she said, telling Morristown Green that Ashe’s memoir, Days of Grace, should be required reading in high schools.