PEOPLE | CULTURE | HAPPENINGS
Inclusiveness through tennis travels
to Wimbledon and beyond
One Love Goes
by RACHEL LOGAN
GROWING UP IN WILMINGTON in the 1950s, Lenny Simpson
learned important life lessons through the sport of tennis.
On the court, it’s just you and the person on the other side
of the net. Race and social status become irrelevant.
Tennis also broke down barriers for Simpson’s friend and
mentor, Althea Gibson. After a rough childhood in Harlem, Gibson moved to
Wilmington, where she found structure under the tutelage of Dr. Hubert Eaton.
Gibson and Simpson both went on to excel in professional tennis careers.
Gibson was, in many respects, the Jackie Robinson of tennis. She became the
first African American to play (and win) Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Simpson
began his career in the black-only American Tennis Association because he
wasn’t allowed to play on the regular tour, but finished in an integrated sport.
One Love Tennis founder Lenny Simpson (below) visited the All England Lawn
Tennis and Croquet Club, home of Wimbledon, in September 2016. Clockwise
from bottom left: The grounds include a display of tennis rackets used over
the years. A statue of Fred Perry, the Englishman who won three consecutive
Wimbledon Championships from 1934 to 1936. Spectators can travel to Wimbledon
from London via train. The iconic Centre Court, which dates to 1922. The Venus
Rosewater Dish, awarded to the ladies’ singles champion and first presented in
1886. Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tennis tournament played on grass.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF LENNY SIMPSON/ONE LOVE TENNIS AND REX MILLER