Nine ahead of their time
She is known as the Jackie Robinson of tennis for breaking the sport's color barrier, and her success certainly rivaled his. Althea Gibson followed up her historic debut at the 1950 U.S. Championships by becoming the first black player to compete on Wimbledon's center court -- and later, to win the event -- as well as the first to win the French Open and the first to become U.S. national champ. From 1956 to '58, Gibson won five Grand Slam events; by the time she retired at the end of that run, she owned 56 career victories in singles and doubles. What many people don't know is that she broke golf's color barrier, too. In 1964, the 36-year-old Gibson made her LPGA debut, playing on the tour until 1971. "The exclusion of African-Americans from sports in the late 19th century and early 20th century was based on a fear of competition -- in sports and for economic benefits," says sports historian Allen Guttmann. So when Gibson competed against white athletes and won, he explains, "it was a moment of extraordinary, revolutionary change."