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|playername = Athur Ashe |image = C9186-21Reagan-Ashe.jpg |caption = Arthur Ashe greets President Reagan in 1982 |country =  United States |residence = Petersburg, Virginia |datebirth = July 10, 1943|placebirth = Richmond, Virginia, USA |datedeath = February 6, 1993 (aged 49) |placedeath = New York City, New York, USA |height = 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) |weight = 160 lb (73 kg; 11 st) |turnedpro = 1969 |retired = 1980 |plays = Right-handed; |careerprizemoney = US$2,584,909 |tennishofyear = 1985 |tennishofid = 45 |singlesrecord = 818-260 |singlestitles = 33 |highestsinglesranking = No. 2 (May 2, 1976) |AustralianOpenresult = W (1970) |FrenchOpenresult = QF (1970, 1971) |Wimbledonresult = W (1975) |USOpenresult = W (1968) |doublesrecord = |doublestitles = 18 |highestdoublesranking = |updated = July 24, 2007 }}

Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr. (July 10, 1943 – February 6, 1993) was a professional tennis player, born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. During his career, he won three Grand Slam titles, putting him among the best ever from the U.S. Ashe, an African American, is also remembered for his efforts to further social causes.


Early life and tennis career

Ashe was coached by Ronald Charity, and later coached by Robert Walter Johnson. Tired of having to travel great distances to play Caucasian youths in segregated Richmond, Ashe accepted an offer from a St. Louis tennis official to move there and attend Sumner High School.[1] Young Ashe was recognized by Sports Illustrated for his playing.[2]

Ashe was awarded a tennis scholarship to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1963. That same year, Ashe became the first black player ever selected to the United States Davis Cup team.

In 1965, Ashe won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) singles title and contributed to UCLA's winning the team NCAA tennis championship. While at UCLA, Ashe was initiated as a member of the Upsilon chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

The Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center, on the campus of UCLA

In 1968, Ashe won the United States Amateur Championships and the inaugural US Open and aided the U.S Davis Cup team to victory. He is the only player to have won both of these amateur and open national championships in the same year.[3] Concerned that tennis professionals were not receiving winnings commensurate with the sport's growing popularity, Ashe supported formation of the Association of Tennis Professionals. That year would prove even more momentous for Ashe when he was denied a visa by the South African government, thereby keeping him out of the South African Open. Ashe used this denial to publicize South Africa's apartheid policies. In the media, Ashe called for South Africa to be expelled from the professional tennis circuit.

In 1969, Ashe turned professional. In 1970, Ashe won his second Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open.

In 1975, Ashe won Wimbledon, unexpectedly defeating Jimmy Connors in the final. He played for several more years, but after being slowed by heart surgery in 1979, Ashe retired in 1980.

Ashe remains the only African American player ever to win the men's singles at Wimbledon, the US Open, or Australian Open. He is one of only two men of black African ancestry to win a Grand Slam singles title (the other being France's Yannick Noah, who won the French Open in 1983).

In his 1979 autobiography, Jack Kramer, the long-time tennis promoter and great player himself, ranked Ashe as one of the 21 best players of all time.[4]

Grand Slam singles tournament timeline

Tournament 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 19771 1978 1979 Career SR Career Win-Loss
Australia A A W F A A A A A QF A SF A 1 / 4 16–3
French Open A 4R QF 4R 4R A 4R A 4R 3R A A 0 / 8 25–8
Wimbledon SF SF 4R 3R A A 3R W 4R A 1R 1R 1 / 9 27–8
US Open W SF QF SF F 3R QF 4R 2R A 4R A 1 / 10 38–9
Win-Loss 11–1 13–3 15–3 15–4 6–1 5–2 9–3 10–1 7–3 3–1 10–4 2–2 N/A 106–28
SR 1 / 2 0 / 3 1 / 4 0 / 4 0 / 1 0 / 2 0 / 3 1 / 2 0 / 3 0 / 1 0 / 4 0 / 2 3 / 31 N/A

1The Australian Open was held twice in 1977, in January and December.
A = did not participate in the tournament
SR = the ratio of the number of Grand Slam singles tournaments won to the number of those tournaments played

Activities after retirement from professional tennis

After his retirement, Ashe took on many new tasks, including writing for Time magazine, commentating for ABC Sports, founding the National Junior Tennis League, and serving as captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team. In 1983, Ashe underwent a second heart surgery. He was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985. He also founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS.[5]

Personal life

Ashe served in the U.S. Army from 1966–68, reaching the rank of first lieutenant. On February 20, 1977, Ashe married Jeanne Moutoussamy, a photographer he had met four months earlier. Andrew Young, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, performed the ceremony at the U.N. chapel in New York. Arthur and Jeanne adopted one child together, a daughter, who was born on December 21, 1986. She was named Camera after her mother's profession. Camera was only six years old when her father died.

In 1979, Ashe suffered a heart attack, an event that surprised the public in view of his high level of fitness as an athlete. His condition drew attention to the hereditary aspect of heart disease. Ashe underwent a quadruple bypass operation, performed by Dr. John Hutchinson on December 13, 1979.[6] A few months after the operation, Ashe was on the verge of making his return to professional tennis. However, during a family trip in Cairo, Egypt, he developed chest pain while running. Ashe stopped running and returned to see physician and close friend Douglas Stein, who had accompanied the family on the trip. Stein urged Ashe to return to New York City so he could be close to his cardiologist and surgeon.[6]

In 1983, Ashe underwent a second round of heart surgery to correct the bypass surgery he received back in 1979. In 1988, Ashe fell ill and discovered he had apparently contracted HIV during the blood transfusions he had received during his second heart surgery. He and his wife kept his illness private until April 8, 1992, when reports that the newspaper USA Today was about to publish a story about his health condition because of his increasingly gaunt physical appearance forced him to make a public announcement that he had the disease. In the last year of his life, Ashe did much to call attention to AIDS sufferers worldwide. Two months before his death, he founded the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health to help address issues of inadequate health care delivery and was named Sports Illustrated magazine's Sportsman of the Year. He also spent much of the last years of his life writing his memoir Days of Grace, finishing the manuscript less than a week before his untimely death.

Ashe died from complications from AIDS on February 6, 1993. He had toxoplasmosis, an infection related to AIDS. Whether this contributed to his death is unknown.[7]

Civil rights leader

Arthur, the first African-American male to win a Grand Slam event, was an active civil rights supporter. He was a member of a delegation of 31 prominent African-Americans who visited South Africa to observe political change in the country as it approached racial integration.

He was arrested on January 11, 1985, for protesting outside the South African embassy in Washington, D.C. during an anti-apartheid rally. He was also arrested again on September 9, 1992, outside the White House for protesting on the recent crackdown on Haitian refugees.


The Arthur Ashe Stadium at the 2007 US Open.


There are a number of schools honoring Arthur Ashe.

  • In Henrico County, Virginia (adjacent to Richmond), an elementary school in his honor was opened in the fall of 1994 as Henrico County's first volunteer uniform school, with grades kindergarten through five, a PEDD program, and a Head Start program.[11]
  • The Arthur Ashe Charter school in New Orleans, LA.[12]
  • P.S. 161 - Arthur Ashe school within New York School district #28 is located in Jamacia, NY.[13]
  • The Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr Middle School in Fort Lauderdale, FL.[14]
  • The Arthur Ashe Academy in Michigan is part of the Southfield School district offering sixth through eleventh grades.[15]
  • The Arthur Ashe Learning center (using[16]

Major finals

Grand Slam finals

Singles: 7 finals (3 titles, 4 runner-ups)

Outcome Year Championship Surface Opponent in the final Score in the final
Runner-up 1966 Australian Championships Grass Australia Roy Emerson 6–4, 6–8, 6–2, 6–3
Runner-up 1967 Australian Championships Grass Australia Roy Emerson 6–4, 6–1, 6–4
Winner 1968 US Open Grass Netherlands Tom Okker 14–12, 5–7, 6–3, 3–6, 6–3
Winner 1970 Australian Open Grass Australia Dick Crealy 6–4, 9–7, 6–2
Runner-up 1971 Australian Open Grass Australia Ken Rosewall 6–1, 7–5, 6–3
Runner-up 1972 US Open Grass Romania Ilie Năstase 3–6, 6–3, 6–7(1–5), 6–4, 6–3
Winner 1975 Wimbledon Grass United States Jimmy Connors 6–1, 6–1, 5–7, 6–4

All finals


Wins (33)

1. 1968 U.S. National Championships, USA
2. August 29, 1968 US Open, New York City, USA Grass Netherlands Tom Okker 14–12, 5–7, 6–3, 3–6, 6–3
3. January 19, 1970 Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia Grass Australia Dick Crealy 6–4, 9–7, 6–2
4. 1970 Berkeley, California
5. 1970 Paris, France
6. 1971 Charlotte, USA
7. 1971 Paris, France
8. 1971 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 1972 – Louisville WCT, Montreal WCT, Rome WCT, Rotterdam WCT
  • 1973 – Chicago WCT, Washington
  • 1974 – Barcelona WCT, Bologna WCT, Stockholm
  • 1975 – Barcelona WCT, Dallas WCT, Los Angeles, Munich WCT, Rotterdam WCT, San Francisco, Stockholm - WCT, Wimbledon
  • 1976 – Columbus WCT, Indianapolis WCT, Richmond WCT, Rome WCT, Rotterdam WCT
  • 1978 – Colombus, Los Angeles, San Jose


  • "Success is a journey, not a destination."[17]
  • "True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost."[18]
  • "You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy."[19]
  • "If one's reputation is a possession, then of all my possessions, my reputation means most to me."[20]
  • "I respected the way they stood tall against the sky and insisted on being heard in matters other than Track and Field -- on matters of Civil Rights and social responsibility. I couldn't help but admire them." --- on the Olympic athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos when they did the Black Power Salute at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City (as quoted by Samuel L. Jackson at the 2008 Espys)
  • "From what we get, we make a living; what we give, however, makes a life." (paraphrasing Winston Churchill -"You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give")[21]
  • "I believe I was destined to do more than hit tennis balls"[22]
  • “If I were to say, God, why me? about the bad things, then I should have said, God, why me? about the good things that happened in my life.”[23]


  • Wimbledon 1975 Final: Ashe vs. Connors Standing Room Only, DVD Release Date: October 30, 2007, Run Time: 120 minutes, ASIN: B000V02CTQ.

See also

Further reading

Books by Arthur Ashe.

Books about Arthur Ashe, by date published.


  1. ^ "TRAVEL ADVISORY; Black History in St. Louis", The New York Times, May 10, 1992. Accessed December 11, 2007. "Sumner High School, the first school west of the Mississippi for blacks, established in 1875 (among graduates are Grace Bumbry, Arthur Ashe, and Tina Turner)..."
  2. ^ Arthur Ashe picture
  3. ^ "Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr.". Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  4. ^ Kramer considered the best ever to have been either Don Budge (for consistent play) or Ellsworth Vines (at the height of his game). The next four best were, chronologically, Bill Tilden, Fred Perry, Bobby Riggs, and Pancho Gonzales. After these six came the "second echelon" of Rod Laver, Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall, Gottfried von Cramm, Ted Schroeder, [[Jack Crawford (tennis player)|]], Pancho Segura, Frank Sedgman, Tony Trabert, John Newcombe, Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, Björn Borg, and Jimmy Connors. He felt unable to rank Henri Cochet and René Lacoste accurately but felt they were among the very best.
  5. ^ "Arthur Ashe Biography". CMG WorldWide. Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  6. ^ a b Rampersad, Arnold; Arthur Ashe (1993). Days of Grace: A Memoir. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 35. ISBN ISBN 0-679-42396-6.. 
  7. ^ "Arthur Ashe, Tennis Star, is Dead at 49". AIDS Education Global Information System. 1993-02-08. Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  8. ^ Asante, Molefi Kete (2002). 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. pp. 400. ISBN 1-57392-963-8. Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  9. ^ "40 Greatest players of the TENNIS Era (29-32)". TENNIS Magazine. Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  10. ^ "ITA Men's Hall of Fame". ITA. Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  11. ^ "Arthur Ashe, Jr. Elementary School". Henrico County School District. Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  12. ^ "Arthur Ashe Charter School". Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  13. ^ "P.S. 161 Arthur Ashe school". New York School District. Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  14. ^ "The Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr Middle School". Broward County School district. Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  15. ^ "Arthur Ashe Academy". Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  16. ^ "The Arthur Ashe Learning Center". Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  17. ^ "QuoteWorld:Arthur Ashe". QuoteWorld. Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  18. ^ "Arthur Ashe quotes". Retrieved 2009-09-09. ; Attributed to Ashe on over 1,000 web sites.
  19. ^ "The best sports moments of 2007". jpost. Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  20. ^ Rampersad, Arnold; Arthur Ashe (1993). Days of Grace: A Memoir. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 3. ISBN ISBN 0-679-42396-6.. 
  21. ^ "Quotations:Arthur Ashe". Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  22. ^ "Ashe So Much More Than A Tennis Legend". The Seattle Times. 1992-04-12. Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  23. ^

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr. (10 July 19436 February 1993) was a prominent African American tennis player and an AIDS activist.


Don’t be angry with me if I am not there in person, alive and well, when you need me. I would like nothing more than to be with you always.
  • True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.
    • As quoted in Worth Repeating : More Than 5,000 Classic and Contemporary Quotes (2003) by Bob Kelly, p. 169

Days of Grace : A Memoir (1994)

  • I wish more of us could understand that our increasing isolation, no matter how much it seems to express pride and self-affirmation, is not the answer to our problems. Rather, the answer is a revival of our ancient commitment to God, who rules over all the peoples of the world and exalts no one over any other, and to the moral and spiritual values which were once legendary in America. We must reach out our hand in friendship both to those who would befriend us and those who would be our enemy. We must believe in the power of education. We must respect just laws. We must love ourselves, our old and or young, our women as well as our men.
    I see nothing inconsistent between being proud of oneself and one's ancestors and, at the same time, seeing oneself first and foremost a member of the commonwealth of all races and creeds.
    • p. 186
  • I may not be walking with you all the way, or even much of the way, as I walk with you now. Don’t be angry with me if I am not there in person, alive and well, when you need me. I would like nothing more than to be with you always. Do not feel sorry for me if I am gone. When we were together, I loved you deeply and you gave me so much happiness I can never repay you. Camera, wherever I am when you feel sick at heart and weary of life, or when you stumble and fall and don’t know if you can get up again, think of me. I will be watching and smiling and cheering you on.
    • Message to his daughter Camera, p. 341


  • Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can.
    • Sports Illustrated
  • From what we get, we can make a living: what we give, however makes a life.
  • Drummed into me, above all, by my dad, by the whole family, was that without your good name, you would be nothing.
  • Clothes and manners do not make the man, but where he is made they greatly improve his appearance.
  • Every time you win, it diminishes the fear a little bit. You never really cancel the fear of losing; you keep challenging it.
  • If I were to say "God, why me?" about the bad things, then I should have said "God, why me?" about the good things that happened in my life.
  • One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.
  • You've got to get to the stage in life where going for it is more important than winning or losing.
  • Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
  • Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.
  • We are 100 percent sure the cause of my HIV infection was a blood transfusion either after my 1979 bypass operation or my 1983 operation. We are 95 percent sure it was the ’83 operation.
  • Some folks call tennis a rich people’s sport or a white person’s game. I guess I started too early because I just thought it was something fun to do. Later, I discovered there was a lot of work to being good in tennis. You’ve got to make a lot of sacrifices and spend a lot of time if you really want to achieve with this sport, or in any sport, or in anything truly worthwhile.”
  • When I took the match point, all the years, all the effort, all the support I had received over the years came together. It’s a long way from Brook Field to Wimbledon.
    • Reflecting back on his 1975 Wimbledon championship
  • What it is controlled cool, in a way. Always have the situation under control, even when losing. Never betray an inward sense of defeat.
    • On his style of play
  • The ideal attitude is to be physically loose and mentally tight.
  • Regardless of how you feel inside, always try to look like a winner. Even if you are behind, a sustained look of control and confidence can give you a mental edge that results in victory.
  • I don't want to be remembered for my tennis accomplishments. That's no contribution to society. That [tennis] was purely selfish; that was for me.
  • A wise person decides slowly but abides by these decisions.
  • Trust has to be earned, and should come only after the passage of time.
  • I know I could never forgive myself if I elected to live without humane purpose, without trying to help the poor and unfortunate, without recognizing that perhaps the purest joy in life comes with trying to help others.
  • I wanted to indulge and explore my love of humanity and especially my concern for persons less fortunate than myself.
  • I keep sailing on in this middle passage. I am sailing into the wind and the dark. But I am doing my best to keep my boat steady and my sails full.
  • I accepted the face that as much as I want to lead others, and love to be around other people, in some essential way, I am something of a loner.
  • My only true regret, however, is that now that I see the world more clearly than ever, as I believe I do, I don’t seem to have the time left to translate my visions into action as I would like.
  • My potential is more than can be expressed within the bounds of my race or ethnic identity.
  • My humanity, in common with all of God’s children, gives the greatest flight to my full range of my possibilities.
  • I have always drawn strength from being close to home.
  • We must reach out our hand in friendship and dignity both to those who would befriend us and those who would be our enemy.
  • I have tried to keep on with my striving because this is the only hope I have of ever achieving anything worthwhile and lasting.


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