Playing To Win: How Althea Gibson Broke Barriers and Changed Tennis Forever

Holiday House. Jan. 2021. 32p. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9780823448531.
Gr 2-5–Born to sharecroppers in South Carolina, Gibson (1927–2003), a trailblazing Black tennis player, grew up with various family members in Philadelphia and New York City before finally reuniting with her parents in Harlem. Gibson struggled in school; she got into fights and skipped class. Gibson found her true passion when she was introduced to table tennis. Finding focus and motivation in competition, she committed to becoming the best—even when she lost and even after experiencing racism in the South when she went to college in Florida. Gibson’s years of hard work and dedication paid off when she became the first African American to win a major tennis championship in 1956. She made it to Wimbledon and played there in 1951 and 1956. Deans skillfully shows the depth of Gibson’s journey by including moments of discouragement and loss, and by emphasizing the importance of the support and encouragement from friends. The historical context of racism is handled well, and the clear text is concise. Brown’s illustrations sing with dynamic colors. Illustrations of Gibson stand out in particular, evoking her immense skill with kinetic movement on the page. An author’s note, a time line of events, a bibliography with further reading, and a list of informational websites are included.
VERDICT A beautiful and thorough addition to every biography section.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing