I Always Wanted To Be Somebody
Part 9

Althea Gibson

Althea's long term coach Sydney Llewellyn.

One thing about the life of a tennis champion; you never can rest on your victories, unless you retire, and I'm not ready to retire yet. With my coach Sydney Llewellyn working along with me, I will keep going right back into training as each new season approaches, just as I did when I got back from the Caribbean and began promptly to prepare for the 1958 Wimbledon and United States championships.

I knew I wasn't going beat anybody with my reputation or my newspaper clippings. I would have to beat them all on the tennis court. If I ever showed signs of forgetting that, Sydney was right there to remind me.

Sydney is not only a fine teacher of tennis, including both strokes and tactics, he is also something of a psychologist. He keeps after me all the time.

First, he pounded to make me think and act and play with the idea in mind that I had what it takes to become the champion. And after I made it, instead of letting up, he pressed me all the more.

"You've got to hit that ball with all your strength and attack forcefully, and overpower your opponent. You've got to hit with pace and with depth, and put that championship power and determination pride behind every shot. Never let up, and don't every change from the championship way of hitting.

"You were hitting the daylights out of the ball last year. You were hitting it with force. You've got to hit it even more forcefully, you've got to hit it with daring.

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Althea Gibson: I Always Wanted To Be Somebody

I Always Wanted To Be Somebody is the intimate and candid story of a girl who grew up in the asphalt environs of Harlem, skipping school, drinking hard liquor, stealing and fist-fighting, but went on to break the color barrier in tennis and achieving the pinnacle of the sport by winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and becoming an inspiration for many future champions such as Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe, Venus Williams, and Serena Williams, among many others.

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