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Angela Buxton (1934–2020), tennis champion who fought discrimination

by Linnea Crowther

Angela Buxton was a British tennis player who won doubles at the French Open and Wimbledon in 1956 as the doubles partner of Althea Gibson (1927–2003).

Fighting against discrimination

When Buxton and Gibson won their doubles title in 1956, Gibson was the first Black tennis player to win a Grand Slam tennis tournament, having also won singles at the French championship. The doubles win was a major moment for Buxton, too, who faced anti-Semitic discrimination throughout her career. The granddaughter of Russian Jews who immigrated to England, Buxton found herself excluded from tennis clubs and training facilities. Even after her Wimbledon win, she was never able to gain membership to the All-England Club—site of the famed tournament—despite trying for decades to apply for admission. Yet she was one time ranked World No. 5 by World Tennis magazine, and she reached the singles final at Wimbledon and the singles semifinal at the French Open, as well as winning the women’s singles title at the 1953 Maccabiah Games. Buxton had to retire from competitive tennis in 1957 following a hand injury. In later years, Buxton remained friends with Gibson and helped fundraise for her at a time when Gibson was in poor health and couldn’t afford her medication.

Buxton on teaming up with Gibson

“The anti-Semitism made me more isolated, which I shouldn’t have been. It made me more determined, more detached. People didn’t realize what I was going through, because I didn’t bother to spell it out. I just took another route. The result of which was that I was on my own and, for different reasons, [Gibson] was on her own. And then we came together and beat everybody.” —from a 2001 interview with the Guardian

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Tributes to Angela Buxton

Full obituary: ESPN

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