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James  (Dixie) Deane

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What years were you a Ball Boy?


What age were you and what courts did you look after?


Did you enjoy the task and why?

Very much so, the reasons being was first we were paid to do it so it meant a good deal extra pocket money.  Secondly the atmosphere of Wimbledon the food and the strawberries were great. Thirdly, we took great pride in trying to collect as many sweat bands of the players as we possibly could; most of the players gave them to us after the match when asked.

Did anything unusual/funny happen whilst you were on court?

I was chosen as a publicity stunt by some newspapers to be Althea Gibsonís ball boy during the matches between her and Christine Truman in the semi finals and Darlene Harde in the Finals.  In the finals just before the match started a tennis ball with a lot of small not so nice newspaper clippings about Althea stuck to it was thrown towards my direction at the net, I picked it up but as I was so nervous I wasnít sure whether to give it to her or not.  The boy next to me whose name I canít remember snatched it of me and put it away, afterwards we laughed because I hadnít read what was on it and would have given it to her, that would have been a real blunder.

The newspapers were the Express, and I think the Daily Herald and the Sketch.  

Which player did you most enjoy meeting and why?

Ken Rosewall, he was just a nice guy. Jaraslav Drobny, he made people laugh and seemed to enjoy himself on court. Maria Bueno, she was a nice bit of stuff in those days.

Who is your favourite tennis player today?

Pete Sampras and the Swiss girl Martina Hinges

Do you play tennis now and if so do you belong to a club?


Would you like to add any further information?

No comment

From: James Deane (Dixie) 

A search of the Internet, revealed this photo and information.

Venus Williams' 68-minute win over Justine Henin of Belgium emulates the achievements of Althea Gibson, the first African-American to win the Wimbledon crown back-to-back, in 1957 and 1958. She is now the first African-American to complete two successive triumphs in the Ladies' Singles since Althea Gibson, who achieved the double in 1957 and 1958. "I'm not trying to emulate her (Althea Gibson)," she said. "Really I was just trying to win Wimbledon again to make my own success and I think Centre Court is going to be a great place for me in years to come."

Althea Gibson cracked the colour barrier at Wimbledon. Besides making history like Jackie Robinson, Althea Gibson felt the same sting of racism as the baseball pioneer did just a few years before her. In 1956, Gibson made history by becoming the first black person to win the French championships. The next year, she made more history by winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals, the first black to win either. She must have liked winning the world's two most prestigious tournaments, too, because she repeated the accomplishments in 1958. In 1957, Gibson gained control of the women's game. First, she beat Darlene Hard 6-3, 6-2 to win Wimbledon In 1957, she was the first black to be voted by the Associated Press as its Female Athlete of the Year. She won the honour again in 1958.

above Anthea Gibson photo at Wimbledon 1957


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