Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe Biography

American tennis player

Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. was born on July 10, 1943, in Richmond, Virginia, to Arthur Sr. and Mattie.

He became a motherless child when he was not yet seven years old and was raised with his brother Johnnie – five years younger than him – by his father alone.

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The adult imposes a very strict discipline that encourages him to excel both in school and in a sport.

His father, however, prevented him from playing football, a sport very popular with black children, because of his slight physical condition.

Arthur Ashe’s childhood

As a child, Arthur Ashe begins to play tennis. And his natural talent is noted by a Virginia Union University student, Ron Charity, who is also a tennis instructor at Brookfield. He teaches Ashe the basics of the sport and invites him to participate in local tournaments.

It was my father’s attitude that made me realize that the liberation of Black people had not come with the end of the war of secession, nor with subsequent laws.

It was in progress. My great-great-grandmother had been sold for a tobacco bullet, my grandfather had been less free than my father, who was less free than me, but he did not complain about it. He would have been the first black man admitted to a white man’s sport.

Once she joined Maggie L. Walker High School, Ashe continues to play tennis: Charity introduces her to Robert Walter Johnson, the founder of the Ata Junior Development Program, the American Tennis Association.

When he saw me, he had to punch me in the face. I was skinny, had a longer racket than me. He thought I was hungry because he sent me straight to the kitchen to feed me.

Until 1960, Ashe was trained by Johnson at his summer campuses in Lynchburg, and from him, he also learned the importance of socializing between careers through sports.

Tennis studies and training

In 1958, Arthur Ashe became the first African-American to play in the Maryland Championship.

In 1960 he accepted an offer from Richard Hudlin, a 62-year-old St. Louis teacher and friend of Johnson’s, to move to St. Louis to attend Summer High School, where he could have competed more freely.

Ashe, therefore, will be living with Hudlin with her family, having the opportunity to strengthen her physique.

Later, he became the first African American to win the national youth indoor title.
Then UCLA awards him a scholarship in Los Angeles.

After graduating in business administration, Arthur Ashe joined the U.S. Army on August 4, 1966, first in Washington and then at West Point. He laid down his weapons in 1969.

This is exactly the year he spends among professionals. Winner of the first US Open of the open era, he helps lead the United States to succeed in Davis Cup, a kind of world championship for nations.

Arthur Ashe and apartheid

The important figure in the birth of the ATP, the Association of Tennis Professionals, has to deal with the government of Johannesburg, which by the color of its skin does not allow it to play the Open scheduled in South Africa.

Arturo decided to give international resonance to this event by launching a real campaign to denounce apartheid. He even called for the South African federation to be expelled from the professional tennis circuit.

Winning at Wimbledon

After winning his first Australian Open, the American tennis player spent a few years fogging up until 1975, a year destined to be the best of his career.

This season, in fact, he won Wimbledon, the most prestigious tournament on the planet, defeating Jimmy Connors in the final unexpectedly, who had reached the final without losing a single set.


On February 20, 1977, he married Jeanne Moutoussamy, an artist and photographer he had only met a few months earlier, in October of the previous year, at a charity event of the United Negro College Fund.

The ceremony is hosted by Andrew Young, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. The wedding takes place in a UN chapel in New York City.

Ashe is married with a striking bandage on her left foot, the result of an operation she had undergone a few days earlier.

The Tennis Retreat

After that, Ashe will play until 1980. The year before, he was hit by a heart attack that convinced him to retire.

The heart attack surprised him in July 1979, while Arthur was teaching a tennis lesson in New York.

As his physique is as healthy as that of an athlete, it is evident that this event is due to a hereditary pathology.

Ashe’s mother died of cardiovascular problems at the age of only 27, while her father suffered a first heart attack at the age of 55 and a second heart attack at the age of 59, just one week before Arthur’s. She died of a heart attack at the age of 55.

However, after hanging the racket on his fingernail, Arthur Ashe does not leave the scene: he becomes a commentator for ABC Sport and writes for”Time”.

But he is also the captain of the American Davis Cup team and founded the National Youth Tennis League.

Abstinence and tennis disease

In 1983 he had to face another heart attack, from which he still recovered. After entering the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985, in December 1986 Ashe and his wife adopted a boy, who was given the name Camera, in honor of Jeanne’s profession (“Camera” means”camera”).

A couple of years later, however, the Ashe family’s life changed tragically. In 1988, Arthur discovered that during a blood transfusion during one of the two heart operations he had undergone, he contracted the HIV virus.

From that moment on, he pays the utmost attention to the spread of AIDS, even if he decides to keep the news of his illness secret.

The world did not know until 8 April 1992, when his serious state of health was revealed by USA Today.


You have to have hope all the time. I hope that, if remedies for this disease are not yet possible, they will be found in the future.

A few months before his death, he founded the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, an organization that aims to help people who have health insurance that is not appropriate for their state of health and which, thanks to this activity, is also named”Sports Illustrated” of the year by the sports magazine.

A week before her death, Ashe concluded her autobiography, entitled”Days of Grace”.

The African-American tennis player died at the age of 49 in New York on February 6, 1993, due to complications caused by AIDS.

At Flushing Meadows, the venue where the US Open is held each year, the centre field – the largest in the world by spectator capacity – bears the name of his memory.

Win 4 tournaments

He was the first black player to win one of the four major tournaments.
His amateur titles include the U.S. Intercollegiate Championship (1965), the U.S. National clay court championship (1967) and the U.S. Open (1968).

If you remember him, it’s because no other African-American tennis player has won the Wimbledon men’s trophy.

He won it when he was 31 years old, that is, in the descending phase of the parable of his career.

And if that wasn’t enough, he beat in the final the young talent, the world number one, his compatriot, Jimmy Connors.

The odds were against it, and secretly, a heart problem too, although that’s not what’s important right now.

Tennis player Arthur Ashe won Wimbledon in 1975 and since then no other black man has ever won it.

Grand Slam

Individual Champion

  1. 1968 United States Open
  2. 1970 Australian Open
  3. 1975 Wimbledon

Individual finalists

  1. 1966 Australian Open
  2. 1967 Australian Open
  3. 1971 Australian Open
  4. 1972 United States Open

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