Arthur Ashe was an immortal in tennis and in the struggle for equality for African-American athletes in the United States and abroad. My greatest memories of him were in the final years of his life as he courageously battled the HIV and AIDS viruses that he contracted through a blood transfusion.
In terms of tennis Ashe was exceptional – a term seldom used when speaking in terms of his career.
Ashe was a freedom fighter who just happened to play tennis. He was the player to win the US Amateur Championships and the inaugural US Open. Ashe was tested when he was denied a vista by the South African government and could not participate in the South African Open. Ashe would use the setback to call out Apartheid in South Africa in the media. There was even a motion by Ashe to have the South Africa eliminated from the professional tennis circuit.
Ashe continued his fight for equality in South Africa, he was even jailed for protesting outside of the South African embassy in Washington, DC in 1985 during an anti-Apartheid rally.
But today, we remember Ashe for becoming the first and only African-American to win the Men’s singles title at Wimbledon (he also won the Austrailian and U.S. Opens), defeating Jimmy Connors in four sets.
Today we remember Arthur Ashe an immortal on and off the court.
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