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CoastLine is a variety news show, which airs Wednesdays from 12pm - 1pm on WHQR.Every week, we’ll look into issues that matter in the Cape Fear Region. Host Rachel Lewis Hilburn will interview expert guests and invite you to join the conversation.

CoastLine: Lenny Simpson On The Power of Love, Althea Gibson, And Arthur Ashe

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Courtesy of Mark Sinclair
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One Love Tennis
Tennis Pro Lenny Simpson launched the nonprofit One Love Tennis in 2013.

World tennis champion Althea Gibson gave Lenny Simpson his first tennis racket.   She's called one of the greatest tennis players who ever lived by the coach of Venus and Serena Williams.  She's the woman who broke the international tennis color barrier, and who now has a monument outside Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.  

Althea Gibson is also the woman who changed the trajectory of one little boy’s life.  

The boy she called “Champ” went on to become a tennis champion in his own right:  in 1964, at just 15 years old, he became the youngest person to win at a U.S. Open.   He also drew the attention of Arthur Ashe, who became another mentor – and who he played (who "beat me like a drum", said Simpson) at that same U.S. Open.

Six years ago, Lenny Simpson and his wife returned to Wilmington, where he launched the nonprofit One Love Lenny Simpson Tennis and Education Fund, a year-round program for at-risk youth that provides tennis instruction and academic support.