By Randy Walker
A lot of people in tennis associate me as Mr. “This Day in Tennis History” since I wrote a book by the very name, that is now a mobile app as well – for sale here at www.TennisHistoryApp.com by the way.
In the history of the United States, Wednesday, August 28, 2013 serves as a significant anniversary in mankind that also can be felt deeply in the tennis world. It is of course, the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C.
Bill Simons of Inside Tennis Magazine called me about a month ago to ask if I could provide for him what happened on that very day in 1963. There were no main draw matches the U.S. Championships at Forest Hills on that historic day with qualifying matches in full swing at the West Side Tennis Club.
However, in an appropriate way, it is interesting to note that 13 years prior to King’s famous speech also on August 28, was the date when the color barrier was broken at the U.S. Championships when Althea Gibson, in her own way of declaring “I Have a Dream,” became the first black player to play in the U.S. Championships when she beats Barbara Knapp of Britain 6-2, 6-2 to set up a second-round match with Wimbledon champion Louise Brough. Sidney Wood, the former Wimbledon champion, has an interesting tale of how this ground-breaking event took place in an excerpt from his WIMBLEDON FINAL THAT NEVER WAS book here: http://www.worldtennismagazine.com/archives/6382
It also is appropriate that on this special anniversary day, the three most high-profile African-American players in the sport – Venus and Serena Williams, the African-American women to win major titles and rank No. 1 in the world since Althea, and Sloane Stephens, the potential American heir apparent to the Williams sisters – are competing at the US Open on tennis stadiums named for two African-American men – Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong.