This year marks the 80th anniversary of Althea Gibson's birth and the 50th anniversary of this African-American woman's tennis victories at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Growing up in Harlem, Gibson had boundless energy, which as a teenager she channeled into an impressive career as a tennis player. Two fall picture-book biographies focus on her remarkable life and accomplishments.
The title of the first book, due from Knopf in August, reflects Gibson's mischievous childhood. Nothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson, written by Sue Stauffacher and illustrated by Greg Couch, explains how the recreation leader on Althea's street, impressed with her paddle tennis playing, introduced the girl to the game of tennis. Though she loved the game, the feisty Gibson did not like following the polite rules of the court—or losing. But she did persevere to become the first African-American to compete at Wimbledon, and the first to win the championship.
Holiday House celebrates Gibson's achievements in Playing to Win: The Story of Althea Gibson, a August book by Karen Deans, illustrated by Elbrite Brown (My Family Plays Music). This debut children's book author underscores Gibson's gumption, explaining how she rose to the challenges she faced excelling at a sport played mostly by wealthy white people in country clubs that excluded African-Americans and becoming a barrier-breaking and world-famous athlete. Both books are well-timed tributes in this double anniversary year.