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Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr. (July 5, 1943 – February 6, 1993) was a professional tennis player, born and raised in Richmondmarker, Virginiamarker. During his career, he won three Grand Slam titles, putting him among the best ever from the U.S.marker 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. Louismarker tennis official to move there and attend Sumner High Schoolmarker. Young Ashe was recognized by Sports Illustrated for his playing.

Ashe was awarded a tennis scholarship to the University of California, Los Angelesmarker (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 Openmarker 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. 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 Openmarker.

In 1975, Ashe won Wimbledonmarker, 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 Francemarker's Yannick Noah, who won the French Openmarker 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.

Grand Slam singles tournament timeline

Tournament 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 19771 1978 1979 Career SR Career Win-Loss
Australiamarker A A W F A A A A A QF A SF A 1 / 4 16–3
French Openmarker A 4R QF 4R 4R A 4R A 4R 3R A A 0 / 8 25–8
Wimbledonmarker SF SF 4R 3R A A 3R W 4R A 1R 1R 1 / 9 27–8
US Openmarker 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 Famemarker in 1985. He also founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS.

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. 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, Egyptmarker, 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.

In 1988, Ashe discovered he had contracted HIV during the blood transfusions he had received during one of his two heart surgeries. 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 condition 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 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.

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.marker 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.



There are a number of schools honoring Arthur Ashe.
  • In Henrico County, Virginiamarker (adjacent to Richmondmarker), 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.
  • The Arthur Ashe Charter school in New Orleans, LA.
  • P.S. 161 - Arthur Ashe school within New York School district #28 is located in Jamacia, NY.
  • The Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr Middle School in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
  • The Arthur Ashe Academy in Michigan is part of the Southfield School district offering sixth through eleventh grades.
  • The Arthur Ashe Learning center (using

Major finals

Grand Slam finals

Singles: 7 (3–4)

Outcome Year Championship Surface Opponent in the final Score in the final
Runner-up 1966 Australian Championshipsmarker Grass Roy Emerson 6–4, 6–8, 6–2, 6–3
Runner-up 1967 Australian Championships Grass Roy Emerson 6–4, 6–1, 6–4
Winner 1968 US Openmarker Grass Tom Okker 14–12, 5–7, 6–3, 3–6, 6–3
Winner 1970 Australian Open Grass Dick Crealy 6–4, 9–7, 6–2
Runner-up 1971 Australian Open Grass Ken Rosewall 6–1, 7–5, 6–3
Runner-up 1972 US Open Grass Ilie Năstase 3–6, 6–3, 6–7(1-5), 6–4, 6–3
Winner 1975 Wimbledonmarker Grass 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 Openmarker, New York City, USA Grass Tom Okker 14–12, 5–7, 6–3, 3–6, 6–3
3. January 19, 1970 Australian Openmarker, Melbournemarker, Australia Grass Dick Crealy 6–4, 9–7, 6–2
4. 1970 Berkeley, Californiamarker
5. 1970 Paris, France
6. 1971 Charlottemarker, USA
7. 1971 Paris, France
8. 1971 Stockholm, Swedenmarker

  • 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."
  • "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."
  • "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."
  • "If one's reputation is a possession, then of all my possessions, my reputation means most to me."
  • "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")
  • "I believe I was destined to do more than hit tennis balls"
  • “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.”


  • 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. 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 , 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.
  4. ; Attributed to Ashe on over 1,000 web sites.

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