Looking to the past can offer important lessons for the present and future, as well as inspiring stories. One of those stories is embodied by Bertrand Milbourne Clark. He did not win Grand Slam titles or garner major international victories, but he paved the way for the fight for racial equality, strove to spread the need for respect for black people, and endured everything bearable in order to fulfill his dream: to play in Wimbledon. He achieved it in 1924, defying all the limitations of the time when traveling from Jamaica, where he became national champion 19 times in tennis; and it is convenient to make the qualification because it was also a figure of worldwide success in golf.
Son of a dentist, he excelled on the tennis court since he was a child and assumed the difficult role that lay ahead; fight racism with a tennis racket. He traveled to the United States, went on to play a doubles match pairing with Prince Albert of Monaco to promote respect and racial equality and tried to promote tennis on his island, combining the work of coach with his work as a public official. His privileged position made him able to fight for the rights of the black population and abolish the embers of slavery and the still latent hatred that existed towards blacks. He died in 1958 and it has taken more than 50 years for a family member to resume his story, told in Telegraph.
Althea Gibson, Wimbledon’s first black champion, is known for breaking the US tennis color barrier in 1950. We recently discovered that Wimbledon’s first black competitor was Jamaican tennis player Bertrand Clark, back in 1924. Images from our collection #BlackHistoryMonth pic.twitter.com / xMLGtj3lN2
– Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum (@WimbledonMuseum) October 22, 2019
Searching the Wimbledon archives, it can be seen that Bertrand Clark He played in the tournament twice: 1924 and 1930. On the first, he began in a sort of qualifying group stage for the final draw, in which he won three games and lost one. He harvested a ticket to the main tournament, where he fell in five rounds against Vincent Burr. Six years later he would try his luck again, meeting again in the first round with a local who cut his aspirations, such as Herman David. It must have been a memorable image to see a black man rub shoulders with an oppressive elite in many cases with people of his race. His memory lives on and these are key moments to be inspired by it. Bertrand Milbourne Clark He was passionate about tennis who fulfilled his dream and wanted others to be able to fulfill it too.