4 African-American Women who Became a Pioneer in Sports

Over the years, there are a number of black women athletes that have excelled in various types of sports. Breaking the barriers of racial segregation in sports hasn’t always been smooth. You can thank the African-American athletes who help paved way for the current generation of black athletes in professional sports.

Here are some of the most popular and notable figures in women’s sports.

  • Lousie Stokes – In 1932, she competed in the 100 meters category in the US Olympic Trials and won the 3rd place. This led her to compete in the 4 x 100-meter relay and became the first African-American women alongside Tidye Pickett to join in the Olympics. However, the team’s coach decided to leave both of them out in the final lineup.

Stokes continued her running career and in 1936, she competed once again in the 100-meter category in the US Olympic Trials. She won 5th place and qualified her once again to become part of the 4 x 100 relay team.

Stokes may not have competed in the Olympics but she was recognized with a hero’s welcome in her hometown in Malden, Massachusetts.

  • Tidye Pickett – She became a part of the 4 x 100-meter relay team and was recognized as the first African-American women to be selected for the Olympics together with Louise Stokes. Pickett was also discarded in the final lineup and suffered racism during their Olympic experience. In 1934, Pickett set an unofficial world record while running the 4 x 110 relay in Chicago.

During the 1936 US Olympic Trials, she participated in the 80-meter hurdles and won 2nd place. However, in the Berlin Olympics, she fell and became injured during the semi-finals. Pickett became the 1st Illinois State University athlete to participate in the Olympics.

  • Althea Gibson – She became the first female African-American athlete to play professional tennis. Gibson won numerous tournaments and became the first black athlete to win the Wimbledon, French, and US Open games.

She also became the first black player to compete in the women’s professional golf category. In 1971, she became a Hall of Fame awardee for International Tennis.  

  • Wilma Rudolph – In 1960, Rudolph won three gold medals in the 100 and 200-meter dash as well as the 400-meter relay. She became the first female African-American athlete to accomplish this and also the first black woman to be awarded the James E. Sullivan award which is the highest honor in US amateur sports.

Read the original article via History.


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