Wimbledon champ says anti-Semitism led top UK club to snub her for decades

British Jew Angela Buxton has yet to be accepted into tennis’s All England Club, 63 years since applying, shortly after historic victory at Wimbledon

Tennis champion Angela Buxton (Howard Blas/The Times of Israel)
Tennis champion Angela Buxton in 2014 (Howard Blas/The Times of Israel)

A Jewish tennis player has accused a top UK club of anti-Semitism for refusing to accept her as a member, 63 years after her historic victory at Wimbledon.

Angela Buxton, 84, told the Times she applied for membership in the exclusive All England Club in 1956, shortly after winning the women’s doubles at Wimbledon with American partner Althea Gibson.

Buxton was the first Jewish woman to win at Wimbledon, and Gibson was the first black woman to do so. Their victory was hailed as a sign of progress for minorities.

That same year Buxton also won the French Open with Gibson and reached the singles final at Wimbledon. Buxton says she was told that a top player such as herself could expect to be accepted into the club.

But Buxton told the Times over the weekend that she believed her Jewishness had led the top Wimbledon club to shun her since 1956. (Gibson, her partner, died in 2003 without her application being approved either.)

Doubles partners Althea Gibson and Angela Buxton in 1956. (Courtesy)

“It’s an unfortunate example of how the British really treat Jews in this country,” she said. “This sort of thing exacerbates the feeling towards Jews. It’s perfectly ridiculous, it’s laughable. It speaks volumes.”

She said that when she inquired about the status of her application in 1988, she was told she had “refused it” and was sent to the back of the queue. “I never refused it and there are so many players who didn’t do anything like me and got membership.”

Buxton added that she had experienced anti-Semitism on several occasions during her career, though she did not give details.

A spokeswoman for the Wimbledon club said: “While the decision-making process for membership of the All England Club is a private matter, we strongly refute any suggestion that race or religion plays a factor.”

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