The Wimbledon Championships, held at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, is known by many for its prestigious nature and rich history. Many tennis greats have left their mark on the tournament, including 1995 ITA Collegiate Tennis Women’s Hall of Fame Inductee Althea Gibson and 1986 ITA Collegiate Tennis Men’s Hall of Fame Inductee Jimmy Connors.
Althea Gibson –
Prior to turning pro, Althea Gibson attended Florida A&M and earned her Bachelor of Science in 1953. Briefly retiring from tennis following her graduation from Florida A&M, Gibson returned to the game and took the tour by storm.
Althea Gibson found success at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, capturing the Wimbledon singles title twice in her career, first in 1957, defeating Darlene Hard 6-3, 6-2, and then again in 1958, defeating Angela Mortimer 8-6, 6-2. Winning the title in 1957 made Gibson the first Black champion in Wimbledon history. Gibson also found success in doubles at Wimbledon, taking home the title in 1956 with partner Angela Buxton, in 1957 with partner, and 1997 ITA Collegiate Tennis Women’s Hall of Fame Inductee, Darlene Hard, and again in 1958 with partner Maria Bueno.
Following her wins at Wimbledon and on the tour, Gibson rose to be the number one ranked woman in the world and in the United States. She was also named the Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press and became the first Black woman to appear on the covers of Sports Illustrated and Time Magazine.
Gibson was inducted into the ITA Women’s Intercollegiate Tennis Hall of Fame in 1995, the historic first class of the Women’s Hall of Fame.
Jimmy Connors –
Before beginning his career on tour, Jimmy Connors played for the UCLA Bruins during the 1970-71 season, where he captured the NCAA Division I Singles Championship and earned ITA All-America honors.
Like Gibson, Connors claimed the Wimbledon singles trophy twice throughout his career. In 1974, Connors took a stronghold on the professional tour, winning three out of the four Grand Slam singles titles including the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open.
In 1982, Connors demonstrated to the world that his days of winning Grand Slam titles weren’t over just yet, defeating John McEnroe 3–6, 6–3, 6–7(2–7), 7–6(7–5), 6–4 in a close five-setter. With his win at Wimbledon and in the coming months, the US Open, Connors reclaimed the ATP No. 1 ranking that year, was named the Player of the Year by the ATP, and was the ITF World Champion.
Prior to his two Wimbledon singles titles, Connors and partner Ilie Nastase defeated John Cooper and Neale Fraser in the 1973 final, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 8-9(3–7), 6–1 to take home the Wimbledon Men’s Doubles title.
Connors was inducted into the ITA Men’s Intercollegiate Tennis Hall of Fame in 1986.
The 2023 Wimbledon Championships are set to begin on July 3rd.
About the ITA Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association Men’s and Women’s Halls of Fame aspire to preserve and celebrate the history and further the development of intercollegiate tennis through the collection of historic memorabilia and with inductions of notable players, coaches, and contributors.