Celebration Week for Tennis Great Althea Gibson - UBITENNIS
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Celebration Week for Tennis Great Althea Gibson

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TENNIS – Before there was Serena and Venus Williams, Arthur Ashe, Zina Garrison, Chandra Rubin, Donald Young and James Blake just to name a few, there was Althea Gibson. This tall and beautiful athlete reigned supreme in the sport of women’s tennis back in the pre-open era of 1950’s. What is most remarkable about Ms. Gibson is that she rose to the top of the sport as a black athlete enduring resentments, restrictions and racism, something none of the white competitors ever faced.

 
Freeport, Bahamas Retro Photo of Sports Pioneer and Legend Althea Gibson, who died, at age 76 on September 28l 2003 in South Orange, New Jersey, after a long illness with teenager Martina Navratilova at the Superstars Competition.  Althea was the first black person to play at Wimbledon and the first black champion at Wimbledon...likewise the first black to play on the LPGA Tour....she was the pioneer, who broke the racial barriers and set things up for Arthur Ashe, Zina Garrison, Venus & Serena Williams.  photo by Art Seitz

Freeport, Bahamas Retro Photo of Sports Pioneer and Legend Althea Gibson, who died, at age 76 on September 28 2003 in South Orange, New Jersey, after a long illness with teenager Martina Navratilova at the Superstars Competition. Althea was the first black person to play at Wimbledon and the first black champion at Wimbledon…likewise the first black to play on the LPGA Tour….she was the pioneer, who broke the racial barriers and set things up for Arthur Ashe, Zina Garrison, Venus & Serena Williams. photo by Art Seitz

Fort Lauderdale, Florida  Around 1974.  Wimbledon Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles Champion Bobby Riggs with 1957 and 1958 WImbledon Champion Althea Gibson at the Tennis Club of Fort Lauderdale.  Althea was the first Afro-American  woman to play at Wimbledon, win Wimbledon and to play on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour.  Exclusive photo by Art Seitz

Fort Lauderdale, Florida Around 1974. Wimbledon Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles Champion Bobby Riggs with 1957 and 1958 WImbledon Champion Althea Gibson at the Tennis Club of Fort Lauderdale. Althea was the first Afro-American woman to play at Wimbledon, win Wimbledon and to play on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour. Exclusive photo by Art Seitz

 

Ms. Gibson was an 11-time major winner, claiming her first title at the 1956 French Open becoming the first person of colour to do so. Ms. Gibson went on the following year to make the Australian Open final and then claiming the Wimbledon and US Nationals (US Open) titles. She would defend both her Wimbledon and US Nationals title in 1958. She won 5 doubles titles (1957 Australian Open, French Open 1956, Wimbledon 1956-1958) and one mixed double (1957 US Nationals). Ms. Gibson retired from tennis soon after owning the financial hardships of being an amateur athlete in 1958 with 56 national international tennis titles. She went on play professional golf becoming the first black athlete on the professional tour.

WIMBLEDON, UK, ALTHEA GIBSON AND ZINA GARRISON IN 1980S.

WIMBLEDON, UK, ALTHEA GIBSON AND ZINA GARRISON IN 1980S.

PARIS, FRANCE IN THE 70'S TENNIS LEGEND ALTHEA GIBSON WITH KIM SANDS AND ...MAYBE CAMILLE BENJAMIN?? NOT SURE ART SEITZ  copyright 1970-2000 ERA BEST OF ART SEITZ  35MM SLIDES CONVERTED FOR DIGITIAL USE   ART CAN BE REACHED AT 954 563 0060  OR ASEITZ2690@AOL.COM OR ART SEITZ, 1905 N. ATLANTIC BLVD., FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA 33305 USA

PARIS, FRANCE IN THE 70’S TENNIS LEGEND ALTHEA GIBSON WITH KIM SANDS AND …MAYBE CAMILLE BENJAMIN?? NOT SURE
ART SEITZ copyright 1970-2000 ERA BEST OF ART SEITZ
35MM SLIDES CONVERTED FOR DIGITIAL USE
ART CAN BE REACHED AT 954 563 0060 OR ASEITZ2690@AOL.COM OR ART SEITZ, 1905 N. ATLANTIC BLVD., FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA 33305 USA

August 25, 2015 marked the 88th birthday of tennis great Althea Gibson. A week long celebration is being held in honour of Ms. Gibson along with a new documentary film, American Masters ALTHEA directed by Rex Miller, set to be aired early in September across the US. Ms. Gibson was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971

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Australian Open Daily Preview: Olympic Gold Medalists Face Differing Challenges

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Belinda Bencic on Monday in Melbourne (twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

Six months ago in Tokyo, Sascha Zverev and Belinda Bencic earned the biggest achievements of their young careers: winning an Olympic Gold Medal for their country.  Now they have their sights set on claiming their first Major, though neither has a straightforward second round draw.

 

Wednesday’s schedule also includes top names like Rafael Nadal, Naomi Osaka, Ash Barty, and Daniil Medvedev.  However, with all of those stars being strong favorites on Day 3, other matches featuring some of the sport’s most exciting performers may be the day’s most compelling affairs.

Each day this preview will highlight the five most intriguing matchups, while outlining the other notable matches on the schedule.   Wednesday’s play will begin at 11:00am local time.


Victoria Azarenka (24) vs. Jil Teichmann – 11:00am on Kia Arena

It was 10 full years ago when Azarenka won her first Major in Australia, a feat she would repeat just 12 months later.  Despite reaching three finals in New York, she’s still trying to secure her third Slam title.  Injuries sidelined her several times throughout 2021, yet she still put together a strong 28-9 record on the year.  Teichmann had a breakout 2021, reaching semifinals in both Adelaide and Duabi to start the year, and upsetting three top 12 players during a run to the final in Cincinnati.  But she may be overmatched against an in-form two-time former champion, who dropped only four games in the first round.


Belinda Bencic (22) vs. Amanda Anisimova – Third on Kia Arena

Anisimova was very close to being eliminated from this tournament in the first round.  The 20-year-old American was down a set and a break to Arianne Hartono, and a point from going down a double break in the second set, before storming back to win in three.  However, that near-defeat is not revealing of her recent form, as she started the season by winning a title on these very grounds.  Anisimova has been working with Darren Cahill on a trial basis in Australia, which has already paid dividends.  Bencic has continued to play well following her Tokyo triumph, where she won medals in both singles and doubles.  Three years ago on grass in Mallorca, Belinda defeated Amanda 6-2, 6-2.  Coming off such a close call on Monday, I suspect Anisimova will play freely on Wednesday, and I would not be surprised if she upset the Olympic Gold Medalist.  When her groundstrokes are on, especially her backhand, there aren’t many players who can tame Anismova’s aggression.


Carlos Alcaraz (31) vs. Dusan Lajovic – Third on 1573 Arena

Coming off his star-making run in New York, Alcaraz went right back to work in the opening round here, easily prevailing in less than two hours.  Lajovic required nearly twice as long to overcome Marton Fucsovics in five.  The 31-year-old Serbian advanced to the second week of this event a year ago.  However, the rest of his 2021 season didn’t go as well, ending the year with a record of 18-28.  And he started 2022 by going 0-3 at the ATP Cup.  I expect to see some extra fight out of Dusan during this tournament, as I anticipate many of the Serbian players will be motivated by what occurred over the past two weeks with Novak Djokovic.  But taking out one of the sport’s most formidable newcomers, especially when you’re coming off a five-setter, is a tall task.


Sascha Zverev (3) vs. John Millman – Last on Rod Laver Arena

Following his first round victory, Zverev admitted things had not gone to plan, and he had not played his best.  Despite that, Sascha still prevailed in straight sets, escaping two tight sets via tiebreaks.  He may not be able to afford such dips in his level against one of Australia’s grittiest competitors.  Millman will certainly enjoy plenty of crowd support, and he has taken out big names at Majors before.  At the 2018 US Open, he upended Roger Federer in extremely hot and humid conditions.  And at the 2019 French Open, though he lost, Millman pushed Zverev to five sets.  However, I fully expect Sascha to up his game on Wednesday.  The German won 41 hard court matches last year, and claimed five titles, including the ATP Finals.  He seems primed to make his second Slam final sooner than later, perhaps even at the end of next week.


Gael Monfils (17) vs. Alexander Bublik – Last on Margaret Court Arena

Well this match is pretty much guaranteed to be entertaining, featuring two players who often choose the more fun shot over the smarter shot.   Monfils struggled to find any form following the pandemic shutdown, as playing in front of empty seats did not inspire him.  But with fans back in the stands, Gael’s results have improved.  He started the year by winning his first title in two years.  By contrast, Bublik played well in the first half of 2021, propelling him to a career-high ranking some September, yet his results fizzled later in the year.  During 2020’s autumn edition of Roland Garros, Bubik defeated Monfils in four sets.  But with his mojo back, the Frenchman is the favorite to avenge that loss on Wednesday.


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Ash Barty (1) vs. Lucia Bronzetti (Q) – On Monday, Barty needed less than an hour to dismiss Lesia Tsurenko 6-0, 6-1.  Bronzetti is a 23-year-old Italian who reached five lower-level finals last season.

Rafael Nadal (6) vs. Yannick Hanfmann (Q) – Nadal was another straight-set victor in the first round.  Hanfmann is a 30-year-old German who took out Thanasi Kokkinakis with the loss of just seven games, as the Australian was drained from his title run last week in Adelaide.  Three years ago at Roland Garros, Yannick earned only six games against Rafa.

Barbora Krejcikova (4) vs. Xiyu Wang (WC) – Krejickova advanced almost as easily as Barty, by a score of 6-2, 6-0.  Xiyu is a 20-year-old from China who on Monday gained her first victory in the main draw of a Major. 

Matteo Berrettini (7) vs. Stefan Kozlov (WC) – Berrettini overcame some considerable stomach issues to secure a four-set win on Monday.  Kozlov is a 23-year-old American who is making his Slam debut, thanks to claiming two Challenger titles in November to earn his wild card.

Naomi Osaka (13) vs. Madison Brengle – Osaka won comfortably in the opening round, while Brengle beat Dayana Yastremska by the bizarre score line of 6-1, 0-6, 5-0(RET), with Yastremska retiring one game from defeat. 


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Aryna Sabalenka Survives Sanders Scare At Australian Open

The Belarussian was made to work hard during her opening match at Melbourne Park.

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Aryna Sabalenka (Darren Carroll/USTA)

World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka came back from the brink of defeat to seal her spot in the second round of the Australian Open.

 

The two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist struggled with her consistency throughout her 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, win over wild card Storm Saunders, who is yet to win a Grand Slam main draw match in her career. At one stage Sabalenka looked to be on the verge of suffering a third consecutive Tour defeat after trailing by a set and a break to the underdog before staging an emphatic fight back. Doing so with the help of her rival who started to unravel as the match progressed.

“She played well, she’s a tough opponent and I’m happy I won today,” Sabalenka said of Sanders during her on-court interview.

Sabalenka’s roller-coaster victory is best illustrated by the match statistics. Dealing with inconsistencies in her serve, she produced a total of 12 double faults and won 43% of her second service points. Furthermore, she hit a total of 29 winners against 37 unforced errors en route to the victory.

Playing a top 10 player for only the second time in her career, 27-year-old Sanders started the match in clinical fashion as she produced a level of tennis which exceeded that of her current ranking. Three consecutive times she managed to dismantle the Sabalenka serve to open up a swift 4-1 lead. However, the second seed briefly managed to find her footing in the match to claw her way back and level the set at 5-5. Not to be disheartened, Sanders continued pressing her opponent who faltered at the worst possible moment. Granting the underdog another break before she closed out the set.

On the verge of suffering an upset, Sabalenka’s woes continued in the second set when she got broken once again three games in. Trailing 5-7, 1-3, she managed to turn her fortunes around with the help of a six-game winning streak. Exposing the inexperienced her opponent has of playing on the biggest stages of the game. Serving to level up, she triumphed on her third set point with the help of a serve down the center of the court which Sanders returned out.

Into her stride, Sabalenka charged towards the finish line by winning a further four games in the decider before Sanders managed to register another game of her own. Serving for the win, a blistering serve down the center of the court secured the victory.

“I was already (mentally) in the locker room. Maybe that was the key because I stopped thinking too much and started playing tennis. I tried to put the ball (on the court) as much as I could and I think I did it well. That’s why I came back (in the match),” Sabalenka commented on how she turned the match around.
“Now I will recover and then tomorrow I will speak with my team about my next opponent.”

Sabalenka will play China’s Wang Xinyu in the next round. She could claim the world No.1 ranking in Melbourne if one of two scenarios occur over the coming days. She reaches the final and Ash Barty loses before the quarter-finals or Barty reaches the Quarter-finals and Sabalenka goes on to win the title.

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Andy Murray Battles Past Basilashvili In Three Hour Marathon At Australian Open

Andy Murray produced a resilient performance to reach the second round at the Australian Open.

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Andy Murray (@the_LTA - Twitter)

Andy Murray battled past 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1 3-6 6-4 6-7(5) 6-4 to reach the second round of the Australian Open.

 

It was another typical Andy Murray grand slam match as a three hour marathon was won by the Brit to reach round two.

The three-time grand slam champion has beaten Basilashvili twice in the space of seven days and will now face Taro Daniel on Thursday.

Murray dominated the opening set against an error-prone Basilashvili as his defence was already peaking.

Three consecutive breaks gave Murray the set lead after taking the first set 6-1.

Basilashvili would return the favour in the second set as the Georgian continued to hammer his shots off of both wings.

A 4-1 double break lead was established as we would get the first frustrated mutterings from Murray.

The former world number one would get one of the breaks back but Basilashvili’s consistent firepower would prove too much for Murray’s stubborn defence as another break sealed the second set 6-3.

Into the third set, Murray would control the dynamic of the set on serve as he made bold patterns of play on big points.

An exchange of three breaks in a row saw Murray come out on top as he looked to use a mixture of power and defensive solidity to outmanoeuvre Basilashvili.

The Georgian saved three set points to force Murray to serve out the set but that didn’t matter as the Brit closed out the set comfortably for a 2 sets to 1 lead.

Nothing was easy for Andy Murray in grand slam tennis though and although he recovered a break deficit and saved set point, a poor start to the tiebreak saw Murray playing catch-up.

Basilashvili held his nerve and closed out the tiebreak 7-5 to force a deciding set.

In the final set Murray set a fast tempo winning the first eight points and being the aggressor taking 3-0 and 4-1 leads.

Once the Brit took his foot off the gas that allowed Basilashvili to get back into the match and continue to hit winners that would outpower Murray’s defence.

4-1 was 4-4 and Murray had to rely on his good returning skills when it really mattered to come through.

A 99th unforced error from the Georgian sealed Murray’s emotional delight in clinching another five set triumph at a grand slam.

After the match a delighted Murray reflected on his journey, “It’s been a tough three or four years but I’ve put in a lot of hard work to get here,” Murray said in his on-court interview.

“I’ve played on this court many times and the atmosphere is always incredible. It is where I thought I had potentially played my last match but to win a five-set battle like that, I couldn’t have asked any more.”

Murray will now return on Thursday to play Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel.

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