70 Facts About Arthur Ashe


Arthur Ashe started to play tennis at six years old.


Arthur Ashe was the first black player selected to the United States Davis Cup team, and the only black man ever to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open.


Arthur Ashe was ranked world No 1 by Rex Bellamy, Bud Collins, Judith Elian, Lance Tingay, World Tennis and Tennis Magazine in 1975.


That year, Ashe was awarded the 'Martini and Rossi' Award, voted for by a panel of journalists, and the ATP Player of the Year award.


Arthur Ashe is believed to have acquired HIV from a blood transfusion he received during heart bypass surgery in 1983.


Arthur Ashe publicly announced his illness in April 1992, and began working to educate others about HIV and AIDS.


Arthur Ashe was born in Richmond, Virginia, to Arthur Ashe Sr.


Arthur Ashe had a brother, Johnnie, who was five years younger than he.


Arthur Ashe started playing tennis at seven years of age and began practicing on the courts where his natural talent was spotted by Virginia Union University student and part-time Brookfield tennis instructor Ron Charity, who as the best black tennis player in Richmond at the time began to teach Arthur Ashe the basic strokes and encouraged him to enter local tournaments.


Arthur Ashe was coached and mentored by Johnson at his tennis summer-camp home in Lynchburg, Virginia, from 1953 when Arthur Ashe was aged 10, until 1960.


Arthur Ashe was told to return every ball that landed within two inches of a line and never to argue with an umpire's decision.


In 1958, Arthur Ashe became the first African American to play in the Maryland boys' championships.


In 1960, Arthur Ashe was precluded from competing against white youths in segregated Richmond during the school year, and unable to use the city's indoor courts that were closed to Black players.


Arthur Ashe accepted an offer from Richard Hudlin, a 62-year-old St Louis teacher, tennis coach, and friend of Johnson, to move to St Louis and spend his senior year attending Sumner High School, where he could compete more freely.


Arthur Ashe lived with Hudlin and his family for the year, during which time Hudlin coached and encouraged him to develop the serve-and-volley game that Arthur Ashe's now-stronger physique allowed.


Arthur Ashe was able to practice at the National Guard Armory indoor courts and in 1961, after lobbying by Johnson, was granted permission to compete in the previously segregated US Interscholastic tournament and won it for the school.


In December 1960 and again in 1963, Arthur Ashe was featured in Sports Illustrated, appearing in their Faces in the Crowd segment.


Arthur Ashe became the first African American to win the National Junior Indoor tennis title.


Arthur Ashe was awarded a tennis scholarship to the University of California, Los Angeles in 1963.


Arthur Ashe was a member of the ROTC, which required him to enter active military service after graduation in exchange for money for tuition.


Arthur Ashe completed his basic training in Washington and was later commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Adjutant General Corps.


Arthur Ashe was assigned to the United States Military Academy at West Point where he worked as a data processor.


Arthur Ashe was temporarily promoted to 1st Lieutenant on February 23,1968, and was discharged from the Army on February 22,1969, as a 1st Lieutenant.


Arthur Ashe was awarded the National Defense Service Medal for his service.


Arthur Ashe served a total of 2 years in the United States Army.


In 1963, Arthur Ashe became the first black player ever selected for the United States Davis Cup team.


In 1965, ranked the number 3 player in the United States, Arthur Ashe won both the National Collegiate Athletic Association singles title and the doubles title, helping UCLA win the team NCAA tennis championship.


In 1966 and 1967, Arthur Ashe reached the final of the Australian Championship but lost on both occasions to Roy Emerson.


In 1968 Arthur Ashe won the United States Amateur Championships against Davis Cup Teammate Bob Lutz, and the first US Open of the open era, becoming the first black male to capture the title and the only player to have won both the amateur and open national championships in the same year.


In December 1968, Arthur Ashe helped the US team become Davis Cup champions after victory in the final in Adelaide against defending champions, Australia.


In September 1969, the US Davis Cup team retained the cup, beating Romania in the final challenge round, with Arthur Ashe winning both his singles matches.


Arthur Ashe continued to apply for visas in the following years and the country continued to deny him one.


In January 1970, Arthur Ashe won his second Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open.


In September 1970, shortly after helping the US Davis cup team defeat West Germany in the challenge round to win their third consecutive Davis Cup, Arthur Ashe signed a five-year contract with Lamar Hunt's World Championship Tennis.


In March 1971, Arthur Ashe reached the final of the Australian Open again but lost in straight sets to Ken Rosewall.


At this tournament, concerned that men's tennis professionals were not receiving winnings commensurate with the sport's growing popularity and to protect players from promoters and associations, Arthur Ashe supported the founding of the Association of Tennis Professionals.


Arthur Ashe went on to become its elected president in 1974.


In June 1973, as a result of an ATP boycott, Arthur Ashe was one of 13 seeded players and 81 players in total who withdrew from the Wimbledon tournament to much public criticism.


In November 1973, with the South African government seeking to end their Olympic ban and re-join the Olympic movement, Arthur Ashe was finally granted a visa to enter the country for the first time, to play in the South African Open.


Arthur Ashe lost in the final to Jimmy Connors, but won the doubles with partner Tom Okker.


Arthur Ashe reached the singles final again in 1974, losing in straight sets to Connors for the second consecutive year.


In 1977, Arthur Ashe addressed a small crowd of boycott supporters at the US Open and admitted that he had been wrong to participate in South Africa and supported the boycott of South African players after he had tried to purchase tickets for some young Africans for a tennis match in South Africa, and was told to use an "Africans only" counter.


In May 1975, Arthur Ashe beat Bjorn Borg to win the season-ending championship WCT Finals in Dallas, Texas.


On July 5,1975, in the first all-American Wimbledon final since 1947, Arthur Ashe, seeded sixth and just a few days short of his 32nd birthday, won Wimbledon at his ninth attempt, defeating the overwhelming favourite and defending champion, Jimmy Connors.


Arthur Ashe had never beaten Connors in any of their previous encounters and Connors had not dropped a set in any of the six earlier rounds, but Arthur Ashe played an almost perfect game of tactical tennis to win in four sets.


Arthur Ashe played for a few more years and won the Australian Open doubles with Tony Roche in January 1977, but a left foot heel injury requiring surgery a month later and subsequent long-term rehabilitation saw his world ranking drop to a lowly 257th before a remarkable comeback saw him rise back to 13th in the world again the following year at the age of 35.


However, after undergoing heart surgery in December 1979, Arthur Ashe officially retired on April 16,1980, at the age of 36.


Arthur Ashe remains the only Black man to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, or Australian Open.


Arthur Ashe is one of only two men of black African ancestry to win any Grand Slam singles title, the other being France's Yannick Noah, who won the French Open in 1983.


Arthur Ashe led the United States to victory for three consecutive years in the Davis Cup.


Arthur Ashe was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985.


In July 1979, at the age of 36, Arthur Ashe had suffered a heart attack while holding a tennis clinic in New York.


Cardiac catheterization revealed one of Arthur Ashe's arteries was completely closed, another was 95 percent closed, and a third was closed 50 percent in two places.


Arthur Ashe underwent a quadruple bypass operation, performed by John Hutchinson on December 13,1979.


Arthur Ashe stopped running and returned to see a physician accompanied by his close friend Douglas Stein.


Arthur Ashe 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.


Arthur Ashe was arrested on January 11,1985, for protesting outside the Embassy of South Africa, Washington, DC, during an anti-apartheid rally.


Arthur Ashe was arrested again on September 9,1992, outside the White House for protesting on the recent crackdown on Haitian refugees.


In September 1988, Arthur Ashe was hospitalized after experiencing paralysis in his right arm.


In 1988, Arthur Ashe published a three-volume book titled A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete, after working with a team of researchers for nearly six years.


Arthur Ashe stated that the book was more important than any tennis titles.


In 1992, a friend of Arthur Ashe who worked for USA Today heard that he was ill and called him to confirm the story.


Arthur Ashe decided to preempt USA Todays plans to publish the story about his illness and, on April 8,1992, publicly announced he had contracted HIV.


Arthur Ashe blamed USA Today for forcing him to go public with the news but stated that he was relieved that he no longer had to lie about his illness.


Arthur Ashe fielded questions about his own diagnosis and attempted to clear up the misconception that only homosexual and bisexual men, or IV drug users were at risk for contracting HIV.


Arthur Ashe 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.


The governor Douglas Wilder, who was a friend of Arthur Ashe, allowed his body to lie in state at the Governor's Mansion in Richmond.


Arthur Ashe requested that he be buried alongside his mother, Mattie, who died in 1950, in Woodland Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.


On February 12,1993, a memorial service for Arthur Ashe was held at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in Manhattan.


In October 1976, Arthur Ashe met photographer and graphic artist Jeanne Moutoussamy at a United Negro College Fund benefit.