Arthur Ashe As we celebrate Black History Month it is important to acknowledge our Black heroes represented in any aspect of society. Whether it is politics and civil rights, entrepreneurs, or sports our people have made their presence known in America. One of the major areas Blacks dominate is sports. Mostly Basketball and football, bringing heroes such as Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali. However, we have branched out into sports such as golf, with Tiger Woods inspiring many Black youth. As well as today's hero, Arthur Ashe who paved the way for tennis stars like Venus and Serena Williams.
Arthur Ashe was born on July 10, 1943 in segregated Richmond Virginia. No one would expect him to become one of the most prominent tennis players of his time. He gained most of his inspiration from the memory of his mother, who died when he was only Six years old. After graduating from high school first in his class, he received a tennis scholarship to attend UCLA.
While working towards a BA in Business Administration, he was recognized on a national level for his tennis abilities. Before graduating and winning two NCAA championships, Ashe was selected in 1963 to represent the US in the Davis Cup; Making him the first African American to receive such an honor. After becoming disgruntled with the salary of professional tennis players, Ashe and several other players formed The Association of Tennis Professionals. This association now regulates the pay of players as well as prizes. Later on in that same year of 1969 Ashe was denied a Visa to South Africa to play in the South African Open due to the color of his skin. He became outraged and began to raise the world's awareness of the apartheid in South Africa, in turn lifting the spirits of the South Africans to believe that change was soon coming. In 1975, Arthur Ashe's career climaxed with his championship win at Wimbledon. After retiring in 1980 he went to on accumulate a host of awards, as well as he branched off into other professional areas. He did some journalism, media, and other philanthropic endeavors; his most famous publishing being the 3-volume body of work entitled A Hard Road To Glory. He was elected to the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985 and thereafter founded many charitable organizations including the national Junior Tennis League, the ABC Cities tennis Program, the Athlete-Career Connection, and the Safe Passage Foundation. Shortly after becoming a father in 1986, he was diagnosed two years later as HIV-positive. Due to the un-education of the American people on this serious epidemic, he and his family decided to keep the diagnosis private. However, the rumors became overwhelming and he announced to the world in 1992 that he had AIDS. Ashe died the following year on February 6.
What began on the public recreation courts of Richmond, Virginia, ultimately became a lucrative 10-year career. Despite his glory and fame, The true essence of Arthur Ashe lies in his knowledge that his status as an elite tennis player afforded him a unique and worldwide platform to speak out on inequities. Arthur stood out when he chose to utilize his status to bring about change, and that is what makes his legacy so important and unique.