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What it Was Like to Play at the “Mecca of Tennis,” West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills


Althea Gibson is seen in home movies at the esteemed West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, a mecca of tennis and national championships in Queens, New York City. The footage was taken by Bob Davis, her practice partner, who recalls how the setting was both alien and marvelous to them. Nick Bollettieri, Hall of Fame Tennis Coach, also comments on the elite nature of the club.


(upbeat music) (audience cheering and clapping) - I got the chance to go out to Forest Hills, with Althea.

I warmed Althea up before she went out to play and it was a remarkable experience.

It was the mecca of tennis and it was something that was very alien to us.

People that have not been to Forest Hills don't understand that it was in a community.

So you'd park in somebody's driveway and they would charge you $5 to watch your car while you in there.

And then you'd walk in.

- And there was that clubhouse, like a tutor home in England, sitting by itself and say, 'hey, to get in here, you have to be somebody.'

Even when the tournament was on, to get in was a feat in itself.

And then to go up in the locker room to go to the bathroom holy mackerel, you know, that's that, that, that was unbelievable.

- The smell of the food as you walked in, the people with the hats, the players with the sunscreen, things like we had never seen.

It's just so mind blowing and intimidating.

- There's no crowd like the New York crowd.

There ain't no crowd like New York crowd and there never will be whether it's football, basketball, the marathon or tennis.

(audience cheering and clapping)


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