About Us

Skylights in the museum's great hall

Press Room

Public Votes for Althea Gibson’s Portrait

Photo of Tennis Player Will Be On View at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery

June 3, 2016

Voters have chosen a portrait of tennis player Althea Gibson to be displayed in the National Portrait Gallery’s “Recognize” space today. The museum’s historians and curators selected three photographs of athletes in the museum collection who represent sports such as swimming, surfing and tennis. 

In May, people voted on Smithsonianmag.com to choose between portraits of Gibson, swimmers Eleanor Holm and Helene Madison, and surfer Duke Kahanamoku. Gibson’s photograph by Genevieve Naylor received the most votes and was on view on the “Recognize” wall from June 3 to June 5.

In 1955, Gibson almost retired from tennis. Two years later, at age 30, she claimed the British and U.S. singles titles. She was at the top of her game and remained there the following year when she repeated her British and American triumphs. When Gibson posed for this photograph in 1957 back on her home turf in Harlem, tennis was not a great sporting interest in African American communities. 

In 2015, the Portrait Gallery created “Recognize” as an opportunity for people to select what they would like to see on display. Twice a year, the museum presents three portraits, and the public votes for their favorite. In the last round of “Recognize,” voters elected to display a photograph of actor Marilyn Monroe by Philippe Halsman. 

National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of America through the individuals who have shaped its culture. Through the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story. 

The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and F streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Website: npg.si.edu. Connect with the museum at @NPG, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr.

# # #