Milestones Oct. 13, 2003

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DIED. ALTHEA GIBSON, 76, tennis trailblazer; of respiratory failure; in East Orange, N.J. Before the Civil Rights Act, she spoke volumes by playing an unapologetically fierce serve-and-volley game that dominated the women's side of the sport in the late '50s. As the first African American to compete in a Grand Slam, win titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals and join the L.P.G.A. golf tour, she cleared a path for Arthur Ashe, Tiger Woods and the Williams sisters. (Her advice to Venus before she became the first black woman since Gibson to win Wimbledon, in 2000: "Move your feet.") Yet the former Harlem street truant shied away from her designated role as barrier breaker. She remained cool, a bit skeptical of her fame, preferring to focus on what she loved most: winning. Of her status as a rebel turned world champion, she said, with typical understatement, "Ain't that a blip?" --By Harriet Barovick