Five Things To Know About Tennis Legend Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe

One of the African American trailblazers of professional tennis was Arthur Ashe.

Ashe died 30 years ago on February 6, 1993, but his legacy remains alive.

He may be gone but will never be forgotten.

Here are five important facts about Arthur Ashe.


1. Five-Time Grand Slam Champion

Ashe won three singles and two doubles Grand Slam titles.

The singles titles were the 1968 U.S. Open, 1970 Australian Open, and 1975 Wimbledon.

With Tony Roche as his partner, he won the 1971 French Open and the 1977 Australian Open.

To this day, he remains the only black man to win singles titles at the US Open, Australian Open, and Wimbledon.

2. Pioneer In Highlighting Genetic Heart Health Issues

Ashe was a pioneer in many respects of his life.

His personal health issues in the 1970s shone a light on how genetic heart issues could affect anyone even a professional athlete long before these issues were discussed in public.

Ashe’s mother had heart disease prior to her death at the age of 27, and his father had his first heart attack at the age of 55.

He had a heart attack at 36 years of age in July 1979 while conducting a tennis clinic in New York.

Ashe underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 1979 and was planning a tennis comeback when he developed chest pains.

He eventually had a second bypass surgery in 1983.

3. Contracted HIV From Blood Transfusion

In September 1988, Ashe was hospitalized for right arm paralysis.

Tests revealed that he was HIV positive which his physicians believed happened as a result of a blood transfusion from his 1983 bypass surgery.

Ashe and his wife Jeanne kept the diagnosis a secret to protect their daughter who was only two years old at the time he was diagnosed with AIDS.

4. A Man Of Many Titles, Not Just On The Tennis Court

Ashe was a commentator, author, activist, and also a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

He endured many challenges finding access to practice courts and playing partners in the formative years of his tennis career.

He advocated for equal rights and also paid it forward to children by establishing the National Junior Tennis League.

Prior to his death, he finished writing a three-volume book called A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete.

Ashe was a worldwide civil rights activist, arrested several times while advocating for the rights of others.

He focused his attention on the atrocities in South Africa and also publicly spoke out about the treatment of Haitian refugees in the U.S.

5. Became a Father In His Mid-40s

Arthur and his wife Jeanne adopted a child in 1986 who they named Camera in honor of Jeanne’s profession as a graphic artist and photographer.

She was his pride and joy.

We can only imagine what a wonderful father Ashe would have been as Camera grew up if his time on Earth had not been cut short.

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