Once there was a great woman tennis player who just happened to be an amazing African American, and she was playing tennis long before Arthur Ashe. Her name was Althea Gibson, and Althea came from the inner city of New York and was a really tuff kid. In fact her father would take her to the roof tops and teach her boxing. And her father would knock her down, and tell her to get back up and defend herself. And soon she could defend herself very well, and that instilled a feeling of courage, and the ability to take care of herself.
Then she accidentally started playing paddleball on the streets and she was the best in the area, and would challenge anyone to a game. Then some people from the African American Tennis group noticed her talent. And they asked her if she would like to play tennis on the African American Tennis League… and she said yes. But she was a tough kid so one of her mentors took Althea under his wing, and taught her how to be in public and softened her tough persona.
And because Althea was so tall and powerful she went on to beat all of her opponents in the US tennis circuit. And she also went on to play tennis in Europe in singles matches and doubles with a girl by the name of Angela from London, and Angela and her were best of friends. And they went on win lots of trophies and titles all over Europe. This was during the early 1900’s and African American people were still second rate citizens in those days. And even though she was the best tennis player in the world, some tennis clubs would not allow her to play.
But times were changing, and soon Althea was able to play at Wimbledon and became the first African American to when the Wimbledon Tennis Championship, and this was long before Arthur Ashe. And during the early years of tennis, people didn’t make money like they do now being tennis pros. In fact Althea hardly made $250 a week if she was lucky, and she still had expenses to pay.
But she also had a great voice and created a few wonderful albums that she sang that were very popular. And she was even a guest start on television on the Ed Sullivan Show, and game shows, and radio. And she also started playing golf and was pretty good, so she started playing the golf circuit. But later she became very depressed, and she was depressed because she was broke, and she couldn’t even afford to pay her rent or buy food. In fact she was feeling so bad that she decided to commit suicide. But before she did she called her friend Angela in London and told her problem. And Angela sent her some money, and then Angela wrote a column in all the tennis magazines and newsletters talking about Althea. She told everyone about the great Althea Gibson who was the first African American to win the Wimbledon Tennis Championship, and titles she won all over the world. And the fact that Althea was penniless, and that she was going to lose her home… if she didn’t find some money.
And a few weeks later checks started pouring into Althea’s mailbox. And she called her friend Angela in London and asked her if she had anything to do with this, and Angela said “No I don’t Know a Thing”. Angela didn’t want to take credit for anything, she was a good friend. Well Althea was loved by so many admiring fans, tennis players, and those who looked up to Althea as a wonderful person that checks just kept pouring in. In fact all those checks totaled over a million dollars. Thus Althea was saved from poverty by the love of her friend Angel. And Althea went on to buy a house, and thus lived a quiet and modest life from that point on.
It’s amazing what love between friends can do to change life forever. May we all be blessed with the love and kindness of friends like Angela. Because good friends are like angels that hover around us, and love us no matter what we do, where we go… and what happens in our life.
Lets all be like Angela and help those who are suffering!
Many Blessings to Everyone
Dr. Paul Haider
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