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Arthur Ashe 1943-1993
 


Country : Richmond, VA
Profession : Tennis player
Date of birth : 1943-07-10
Date of death : 1993-02-06
Cause of Death : AIDS

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athurashe

Early life and tennis career

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

Ashe was awarded a tennis scholarship to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1963. That same year, Ashe became the first African American 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.

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. 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.

 

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.

Personal life

Ashe served in the U.S. Army from 1966–68, reaching the rank of second 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 coronary-bypass operation, performed by Dr. John Hutchinson on December 13, 1979. Ashe reported that Dr. Hutchinson removed veins from his legs and implanted them in his chest to take over the functions of his clogged arteries. A few months after the operation, Ashe was on the verge of making his return to professional tennis. While on a family trip in Cairo, Egypt, Ashe saw his dreams of returning quickly fade away. He was running one afternoon when chest pain struck again. 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. Ashe 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. 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.

Honors

  • After Ashe's death, his body lay in State at the Governor's Mansion in his home state of Virginia. The last time this was done was for Stonewall Jackson of the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
  • The city of Richmond posthumously honored Ashe's life with a statue on Monument Avenue, a place that was traditionally reserved for statues of key figures of the Confederacy. This decision led to some controversy in a city that was the capital of the Confederate States during the American Civil War.
  • The main stadium at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Park, where the US Open is played, is named Arthur Ashe Stadium in his honor. This is also the home of the annual Arthur Ashe Kids Day.
  • In 2002, Arthur's achievement at Wimbledon in 1975 was voted 95th in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Sporting Moments.
  • In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Arthur Ashe on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.
  • In 2005, the United States Postal Service announced the release of an Arthur Ashe commemorative postal stamp, the first stamp ever to feature the cover of a Sports Illustrated magazine.
  • Also in 2005, TENNIS Magazine put him in 30th place in its list of 40 Greatest Players of the TENNIS era.
  • His wife wrote a book, Daddy and Me, a photographic journey told from the perspective of his young daughter. Another book, Arthur Ashe and Me, also gives young readers a chance to learn about his life.
  • ESPN's annual sports awards, the ESPY Awards, hands out the Arthur Ashe for Courage Award to a member of the sports world who best exhibits courage in the face of adversity.
  • Philadelphia's Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center and Richmond's Arthur Ashe, Jr. Athletic Center are named for Ashe.
  • The Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center at Ashe's alma mater, UCLA, is named for him. The center opened in 1997.
  • 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.

 

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