Arthur Ashe was a rare kind of American sports hero and trailblazer. An African American growing up in segregated Virginia, by the age of six he demonstrated a natural gift for tennis, a sport that historically was dominated by whites. Ashe went to UCLA on a tennis scholarship and broke down a social barrier as the first of his race selected to represent the USA in Davis Cup play In 1968 he won the U.S. Open and joined with several other tennis players to form the Association of Tennis Professionals, an organisation that remains one of the most influential sports bodies in the world. As great a tennis player as Ashe was, his life transcended sports. Even though he was the topranked American male tennis player, in 1969 he was denied a visa to play in the South African Open. His subsequent call for the boycott of South Africa by the tennis tour and in Davis Cup play, which received international support in and out of sports, was a profound historical moment for raising the world's awareness of apartheid.
Even as political and social activism became a more central part of his life, Ashe continued to excel as a tennis player, adding victories in the 1970 Australian Open and at Wimbledon in 1975 to his sparkling slate of on-court accomplishments. Ashe retired from tennis in 1980, by which time he had already had the first of two heart surgeries. The second one, in 1983, had dire long-term consequences: he was given a transfusion with blood contaminated by the AIDS virus. He and his family managed to keep his condition secret until 1992, when, confronted by a newspaper with knowledge of his illness, Ashe reluctantly came forward to acknowledge his condition. He died age 49 on February 6, 1993 but not until he had raised AIDS awareness to unprecedented levels, much as he had done with racial injustice decades earlier.
Series: I Remember
Number Of Pages: 224
Published: 20th February 2001
Publisher: Cumberland House Publishing,US
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.32 x 13.34
Weight (kg): 0.35