(JTA) — A Jewish British tennis champ who won the women’s doubles at Wimbledon 63 years ago says an exclusive sport club refused to accept her because she is Jewish.
Angela Buxton, who won at Wimbledon in 1956 with her American partner Althea Gibson, who was African-American, applied shortly after her win to join the All England Club, to which she had expected to be accepted due to her status as a top player.
The duo also won the doubles title at the French Open in 1956. Gibson died in 2003. Her application also was never accepted.
Buxton told The Sunday Times that she believes anti-Semitism was the reason she was never accepted though she has continued to wait and reapply.
“It’s an unfortunate example of how the British really treat Jews in this country,” she told the newspaper. “This sort of thing exacerbates the feeling towards Jews. It’s perfectly ridiculous, it’s laughable. It speaks volumes.”
The club disagreed with Buxton’s characterization. ‘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,’ a statement from the club said, according to The Daily Mail.
Buxton also said that she had experienced anti-Semitism during her career.
Author Bruce Schoenfeld in his book “The Match: How Two Outsiders — One Black, the Other Jewish — Forged a Friendship and Made Sports History” reported that Simon Marks, the Jewish owner of the department store Marks & Spencer, allowed her to practice on his private tennis court.
As a teenager, Buxton applied to join the Cumberland Club, the top tennis facility in North London. Coach Bill Blake reportedly rejected Buxton, saying: “You’re perfectly good, but you’re Jewish. We don’t take Jews here.”