Proceeds from Ferguson's third-annual Summer614 Fest, taking place at Columbus Commons this Saturday, will go to scholarships for two young tennis players in the city.
Before there was Serena Williams, there was Althea Gibson.
Gibson became the first African American to compete in the United States National Championships (now the U.S. Open), and the first to win a Grand Slam title in 1956.
Gibson was able to hone her skills through participation in the American Tennis Association (ATA), an African American sports organization founded in 1916 in response to the national ban on black players. Under the ATA umbrella, tennis groups and tournaments were created all over the country.
In Columbus, generations of black tennis players thrived in clubs at Beatty Community Center and Wolfe Park, which is currently the site of junior tennis program Ace with Love.
“At any point in time during the summer, you could see 70 to 80 kids on the tennis court for [the last] 24 years,” said Ace with Love founder Ed Amos.
Years ago, Bobby Ferguson was one of those kids.
Continue reading Erica Thompson's story at Columbus Alive.