General Arthur Robert
Ashe jr
Male
United States of America
1943-07-10
Richmond, VA, United States of America
1993-02-06
Richmond, VA, United States of America


About

A singular figure in the game\'s history as the first black male to win a major singles titles - the first three in fact - Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr., also set a record in 1968 that is most unlikely to be equaled: He won both the U.S. Amateur and Open championships, the first time such a double was possible. No one has come remotely close since. That first season of the open era was a whirlwind year for him, then 1st Lt. Ashe of the U.S. Army. In order to maintain Davis Cup eligibility and gain time away from duty for important tournaments, Ashe was required to maintain his amateur status. Determining that the traditional (and previously amateur) U.S. Singles Championships at Forest Hills would become the inaugural U.S. Open in 1968, the USTA designated Longwood Cricket Club in Boston as the site for a U.S. Amateur tournament. Seeded first in Boston, Ashe came through to the title by surging past teammate Bob Lutz in the exciting final, 4-6, 6-3, 8-10, 6-0, 6-4. However, with pros introduced to Forest Hills, Ashe was a lightly regarded fifth seed.

Nevertheless, at 25, he came of age as an internationalist. Unflappable over the New York fortnight, he served-and-volleyed splendidly. In the final he clocked 26 aces, returned with precision, and held his cool in a five-set final-round victory over pro Tom Okker. An amateur would never do so well again. As the last remaining pro, Okker got the $14,000 first prize while Ashe was happy to settle for $20 daily expenses for his historic triumph, the first major for an African American since Althea Gibson\'s Forest Hills triumph a decade before. Ashe\'s victory also boosted American morale by ending the U.S. male championship drought that dated back 13 years to Tony Trabert\'s 1955 win.

That year Ashe was also a Davis Cup drought-buster, spearheading the U.S. drive to the sterling tub last won five years before. He won 11 straight singles (the most in one campaign for an American) in the drive to retrieve the Cup from Australia in Adelaide. In the final he started slowly but beat lefty Ray Ruffels on opening day for a 2-0 lead. After the Cup was clinched by Lutz and Stan Smith in doubles, he finally gave way, losing to Bill Bowrey in a meaningless third-day match. The season closed with Ashe winner of 10 of 22 tournaments on a 72-10 match record. He would win both his singles in 1969 as the U.S. successfully defended the Cup, 5-0, against Romania. He beat Ilie Nastase on the first day. Next came West Germany, 5-0, at Cleveland in 1970, and his first-day win over Willy Bungert. In the latter his third-day defeat of Christian Kuhnke, 6-8, 10-12, 9-7, 13-11, 6-4, was the longest match (86 games) in a Cup-deciding round.

Eight years later he reappeared for a vital cameo that led to another Cup for the U.S. His singles victory over Kjell Johansson was the clincher over Sweden, 3-2, in the semi-final at Goteborg. Ashe put in 10 years of Davis Cup, topped for the U.S. only by John McEnroe\'s 12 and Bill Tilden and Stan Smith\' 11 each, and won 27 singles, third to McEnroe\'s 41 and Andre Agassi\'s 30. He returned in 1981 as captain for five years, piloting the victors of 1981 and 1982.

Ashe was born July 10, 1943, in Richmond, Va., where he grew up. Since racial segregation was the law at that time, he could not play in the usual junior tournaments. With the aid of the concerned Lynchburg, Va., physician, Dr. Walter Johnson (who had also befriended and helped Althea Gibson), Ashe finished high school in St. Louis, where he could get the necessary tennis competition. In 1961, after Dr. Johnson\'s lobbying got him into the previously segregated U.S. Interscholastic tourney, Ashe won it for Sumner High. Four years later (in 1965), leading man of his alma mater\'s varsity (University of California at Los Angeles), he won the U.S. Intercollegiate (NCAA) singles.

Although Ashe was a man of strong character, poised and able to overcome racial blocks, it took him a while to harness his power, groove his groundstrokes and become a thoughtful player, comfortable on all surfaces. He won 35 amateur singles tournaments. As one whose career overflowed the amateur and open eras, he followed the 1968 breakthrough with 11 sterling years as a professional that netted 33 singles titles including the 1970 Australian and the gloriously unexpected Wimbledon, 1975. In 1975, days before his 32nd birthday, seeded sixth, he was a longer shot than he had been seven years earlier at Forest Hills. Defending champ Jimmy Connors, seemingly inviolable, was a 10-to-1 favorite in the final, but Ashe was too slick and cerebral in one of the momentous upsets, 6-1, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4. Changing pace and spin cleverly, startling Connors with a sliced serve wide to the two-fisted backhand, Ashe out-foxed the man a decade his junior. This was the centerpiece of Ashe\'s preeminent year, a heavy-duty season when he won nine of 29 tourneys on a 108-23 match record and wound up No. 1 in the U.S., No. 4 in the world. He reached No. 2 in 1976.

Improving with age, he unfortunately was grounded pre-maturely, and permanently, by a heart attack in July 1979. In 1992, he revealed that he\'d contracted AIDS through a 1988 blood transfusion. For nine years he was in the World Top 10. He was one of the founders of the ATP in 1972, served as president and had been a reasoned, intelligent spokesman for the game, serving on numerous corporate boards and received several honorary degrees. A long-time protester of apartheid in South Africa, he was, after several refusals, granted a visa to visit that country in 1973, and became the first black to win a title there, the doubles (with Okker) in the South African Open, over Lew Hoad and Rob Maud, after losing the singles final to Connors. \"You have shown our black youth that they can compete with whites and win,\" poet Don Mattera lauded him. He was gratified to return again after the overturning of apartheid and meet with president Nelson Mandela (who identified himself as \"an Ashe fan\").

Ashe lent himself, his name and his money to various enlightened causes. He was arrested not long before his death in a protest against what he regarded as cruel U.S. policies toward Haitian refugees. His principal cause was fostering and furthering education for needy kids, and he was the guiding light in the Safe Passage Foundation for that purpose. He was also a warrior in the fight against AIDS. A tennis player who went well beyond the game, Arthur upheld the qualities that distinguished him as a champion: He showed that it was possible to compete ferociously while maintaining personal honor and sportsmanship. Having entered the Hall of Fame in 1985, he died Feb. 6, 1993, leaving his wife, Jeanne, and 6-year-old daughter, Camera. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton.

Arthur was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985.



Media


Archive statistics 1959 - 1979
86
1481
1127


Tournament wins 1978 - Pacific Southwest Championships (Open)
1978 - Columbus Open (Open)
1978 - San Jose International (Open)
1976 - Rotterdam (Grand Prix Circuit)
1976 - WCT - Columbus (WCT Circuit)
1976 - WCT - Indianapolis (WCT Circuit)
1976 - Richmond Indoor Championships (WCT Circuit)
1976 - WCT - Rome (WCT Circuit)
1975 - ABN AMRO Rotterdam (ATP)
1975 - WCT - Barcelona (WCT Circuit)
1975 - WCT - Munich (WCT Circuit)
1975 - WCT - Stockholm (WCT Circuit)
1975 - WCT Finals (WCT Circuit)
1975 - Pacific Southwest Championships (Open)
1975 - Pacific Coast Championship (Amateur)
1975 - Kent Championships (Open)
1975 - Wimbledon (Grandslam)
1974-B - Caracas International Round Robin ()
1974 - WCT - Barcelona (WCT Circuit)
1974 - Bologna Indoor (WCT Circuit)
1974 - Stockholm Open (Grand Prix Circuit)
1973 - WCT - Chicago (WCT Circuit)
1973 - Washington Open (Open)
1972 - WCT Montreal (WCT Circuit)
1972 - ABN AMRO Rotterdam (ATP)
1972 - Louisville Open (Grand Prix Circuit)
1972 - WCT European Finals (WCT Circuit)
1971 - Stockholm Open (Grand Prix Circuit)
1971 - Brussels Covered Court Round-Robin Tournament (Amateur)
1971 - Charlotte (WCT Circuit)
1970 - Pacific Coast Championship (Amateur)
1970 - Seattle Open Invitation (Professional)
1970 - Kansas City Open (Open)
1970 - Central California Championships (Open)
1970 - Bacardi Round Robin (Amateur)
1970 - Richmond Indoor Championships (WCT Circuit)
1970 - Paris Indoor (Open)
1970 - Denver International Open (Open)
1970 - Nottingham Round Robin ()
1970 - båstad Champions Cup (Open)
1970 - Jacksonville Invitation (Open)
1970 - Australian Open (Grandslam)
1970 - Caribe Hilton International Championships (Amateur)
1969 - Caribe Hilton International Championships (Amateur)
1968 - Queensland Championships (Amateur)
1968 - Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Championship (Open)
1968 - Desert Inn Invitation (Amateur)
1968 - West of England Championships (Amateur)
1968 - Charlotte (WCT Circuit)
1968 - New York Indoor (Amateur)
1968 - Concord Indoor Championships (Amateur)
1968 - Richmond Indoor Championships (WCT Circuit)
1968 - Caribe Hilton Championships (Amateur)
1968 - US National Amateur Championships (Amateur)
1968 - US Open (Grandslam)
1967 - Concord indoor invitation (Amateur)
1967 - Long Island Masters (Amateur)
1967 - US Clay Courts (Open)
1967 - Pan American Trials (Amateur)
1967 - Western Indoor Championship (Open)
1967 - Sugar Bowl (Open)
1967 - Philadelphia Open (WCT Circuit)
1966 - Thunderbird Invitation (Amateur)
1966 - Dallas Invitation (Amateur)
1966 - Caribe Hilton International Championships (Amateur)
1966 - Western Australia Championships (Open)
1966 - Tasmanian Championships (Amateur)
1966 - Southern California Championship (Open)
1965 - Queensland Championships (Amateur)
1965 - Athletic Association of Western Universities Champ (Amateur)
1965 - Intercollegiate Championships (Amateur)
1965 - Fort Worth (Open)
1965 - Pacific Intercollegiate Championships (Amateur)
1965 - South Australian b (Open)
1964 - Perth Amboy Invitation (Amateur)
1964 - Eastern Grass Court Championships (Amateur)
1964 - Southern California Intercollegiates (Amateur)
1964 - Pacific Intercollegiate Championships (Amateur)
1964 - California State Championship (Open)
1963 - Pacific Southwest Championships (Open)
1963 - US Hard Courts (Open)
1962 - Detroit Invitation (Amateur)
1962 - American Tennis Association Championships (Open)
1962 - Ojai Championships (Amateur)
1961 - American Tennis Association Championships (Open)
1961 - Eastern Clay Court Championships (Open)


Tournaments Wimbledon - 1979 Roland Garros - 1979 Austrian International Championships - 1979 Queens Club Tournament - 1979 US International Indoor Championships - 1979 Richmond Indoor Championships - 1979 Florence International - 1979 Philadelphia Indoors - 1979 Washington Indoor - 1979 World Cup - 1979 Denver - 1979 Las Vegas - 1979 Nations Cup - 1979 Australian Open - 1978 Wimbledon - 1978 Roland Garros - 1978 US Open - 1978 New South Wales Championships - 1978 Pacific Coast Championship - 1978 Italian International Championships - 1978 Pacific Southwest Championships - 1978 US Pro Championships - 1978 Wimbledon Plate (Consolation) - 1978 ATP World Tour Finals - 1978 Richmond Indoor Championships - 1978 Indian Wells - 1978 Hall of Fame Championships - 1978 Washington Open - 1978 Washington Indoor - 1978 Columbus Open - 1978 Denver - 1978 Las Vegas - 1978 Australian Indoors - 1978 Dayton Classic - 1978 South Pacific - 1978 North Conway - 1978 Stockholm Open - 1978 Wembley Indoor - 1978 San Jose International - 1978 Grand Prix Masters - 1978 Birmingham Open - 1978 Tokyo Indoor - 1978 West Orange - 1978 Australian Open - 1977 South Australian Championships - 1977 Louisville Open - 1977 North Conway - 1977 Quito Invitational - 1977 Wimbledon - 1976 Roland Garros - 1976 US Open - 1976 New South Wales Championships - 1976 Austrian International Championships - 1976 Pacific Coast Championship - 1976 Pacific Southwest Championships - 1976 Nottingham - 1976 Richmond Indoor Championships - 1976 Indian Wells - 1976 Washington Open - 1976 Philadelphia Indoors - 1976 WCT Finals - 1976 World Cup - 1976 Las Vegas - 1976 Rotterdam - 1976 Vienna International Indoor - 1976 World Invitation Tennis Classic - 1976 Maui Island Holidays Classic - 1976 North Conway - 1976 Dewar Cup - 1976 WCT - Columbus - 1976 WCT - Indianapolis - 1976 Lagos - 1976 WCT - Rome - 1976 WCT - Caracas - 1976 WCT Challenge Cup - 1976 Pepsi Grand Slam - 1976 Wimbledon - 1975 Monte Carlo - 1975 US Open - 1975 Pacific Coast Championship - 1975 US Clay Courts - 1975 Pacific Southwest Championships - 1975 US Pro Championships - 1975 South African Championships - 1975 Kent Championships - 1975 Nottingham - 1975 ATP World Tour Finals - 1975 ABN AMRO Rotterdam - 1975 Richmond Indoor Championships - 1975 Washington Open - 1975 Philadelphia Indoors - 1975 Paris Indoor - 1975 WCT Finals - 1975 Bologna Indoor - 1975 Louisville Open - 1975 World Cup - 1975 Las Vegas - 1975 WCT Johannesburg - 1975 WCT - Munich - 1975 World Invitation Tennis Classic - 1975 CBS Classic - 1975 WCT - Barcelona - 1975 Tucson - ATP - 1975 Nations Cup (Jamaica) - 1975 Stockholm Open - 1975 Dewar Cup - 1975 WCT - Stockholm - 1975 Caracas International Round Robin - 1974-B Wimbledon - 1974 Roland Garros - 1974 US Open - 1974 Pacific Coast Championship - 1974 Pacific Southwest Championships - 1974 River Oaks Tournament - 1974 US Pro Championships - 1974 South African Championships - 1974 Nottingham - 1974 Conde de Godo - 1974 Washington Open - 1974 Philadelphia Indoors - 1974 Paris Indoor - 1974 WCT - London - 1974 WCT Finals - 1974 WCT- Sao Paulo - 1974 Dewar Cup Finals - 1974 Bologna Indoor - 1974 Louisville Open - 1974 Columbus Open - 1974 World Cup - 1974 Aryamehr Cup - 1974 Denver - 1974 Las Vegas - 1974 WCT - Tokyo - 1974 CBS Classic - 1974 WCT - Barcelona - 1974 Tucson - ATP - 1974 WCT - Palm Desert - 1974 Stockholm Open - 1974 Roland Garros - 1973 US Open - 1973 Canadian International Championships - 1973 Pacific Coast Championship - 1973 Queens Club Tournament - 1973 Italian International Championships - 1973 Pacific Southwest Championships - 1973 River Oaks Tournament - 1973 US Pro Championships - 1973 South African Championships - 1973 Charlotte - 1973 Madrid Open - 1973 Washington Open - 1973 Paris Indoor - 1973 Milan Indoors - 1973 WCT - London - 1973 WCT Finals - 1973 Dewar Cup Finals - 1973 Louisville Open - 1973 WCT - Chicago - 1973 Washington Indoor - 1973 WCT - Vancouver - 1973 World Cup - 1973 WCT Cologne - 1973 WCT-Hilton Head - 1973 Denver - 1973 Las Vegas - 1973 WCT-Cleveland - 1973 Rainier Classic - 1973 WCT - Copenhagen - 1973 World Invitation Tennis Classic - 1973 Stockholm Open - 1973 US Open - 1972 Pacific Southwest Championships - 1972 River Oaks Tournament - 1972 US Pro Championships - 1972 Philadelphia Open - 1972 ABN AMRO Rotterdam - 1972 Richmond Indoor Championships - 1972 Charlotte - 1972 Washington Open - 1972 Colonial Pro Invitation - 1972 WCT - St. Louis - 1972 WCT Finals - 1972 WCT - Toronto - 1972 Louisville Open - 1972 WCT-Quebec - 1972 WCT - Chicago - 1972 WCT - Vancouver - 1972 World Cup - 1972 WCT - Miami - 1972 WCT-Hilton Head - 1972 Denver - 1972 Las Vegas - 1972 Bretton Woods International - 1972 WCT-Cleveland - 1972 WCT Montreal - 1972 WCT Alamo - 1972 WCT Essen - 1972 WCT European Finals - 1972 WCT - Gothenburg - 1972 Australian Open - 1971 Wimbledon - 1971 Roland Garros - 1971 US Open - 1971 Canadian International Championships - 1971 Pacific Coast Championship - 1971 Italian International Championships - 1971 US Pro Championships - 1971 Conde de Godo - 1971 Richmond Indoor Championships - 1971 Charlotte - 1971 Wills Open Championships - 1971 Washington Open - 1971 Philadelphia Indoors - 1971 Colonial Pro Invitation - 1971 WCT Finals - 1971 Bologna Indoor - 1971 Brussels Covered Court Round-Robin Tournament - 1971 Louisville Open - 1971 WCT-Quebec - 1971 WCT - Chicago - 1971 WCT - Vancouver - 1971 Aventura Classic - 1971 World Cup - 1971 WCT Dallas - 1971 Aryamehr Cup - 1971 Sea Pines Pros - 1971 WCT Cologne - 1971 Dakar - Second Meeting - 1971 Stockholm Open - 1971 Australian Open - 1970 Wimbledon - 1970 Roland Garros - 1970 US Open - 1970 Victorian Championships - 1970 Pacific Coast Championship - 1970 US Clay Courts - 1970 Pacific Southwest Championships - 1970 US International Indoor Championships - 1970 US Pro Championships - 1970 Central California Championships - 1970 British Covered Court Championships - 1970 Tasmanian Championships - 1970 ATP World Tour Finals - 1970 Philadelphia Open - 1970 Richmond Indoor Championships - 1970 Macon Indoor - 1970 Thunderbird Invitation - 1970 Caribe Hilton International Championships - 1970 London Hard Courts - 1970 Jacksonville Invitation - 1970 Kansas City Open - 1970 Washington Open - 1970 Paris Indoor - 1970 Hampton - 1970 Dunlop Slazenger International Open - 1970 båstad Champions Cup - 1970 Bacardi Round Robin - 1970 John Player Challenge Trophy - 1970 Columbus Open - 1970 Seattle Open Invitation - 1970 World Cup - 1970 Denver International Open - 1970 Nottingham Round Robin - 1970 Stockholm Open - 1970 Wimbledon - 1969 Monte Carlo - 1969 Roland Garros - 1969 US Open - 1969 Victorian Championships - 1969 Pacific Coast Championship - 1969 Eastern Grass Court Championships - 1969 Cincinnati - 1969 US Clay Courts - 1969 Italian International Championships - 1969 Pacific Southwest Championships - 1969 British Hard Court Championships - 1969 Championships of Berlin - 1969 Belgian International Championships - 1969 Madrid - 1969 Philadelphia Open - 1969 Richmond Indoor Championships - 1969 Caribe Hilton International Championships - 1969 St. Petersburg Masters Invitation - 1969 Balboa Bay Club Invitation - 1969 Garden Challenge Trophy Open - 1969 Coupe Albert Canet - 1969 Wills Open Championships - 1969 Washington Open - 1969 US National Amateur Championships - 1969 Howard Hughes Open - 1969 Denver VASS Invitation - 1969 Hawaiian Davis Cup Classic - 1969 Wimbledon - 1968 US Open - 1968 Pacific Coast Championship - 1968 US Clay Courts - 1968 Queens Club Tournament - 1968 Pacific Southwest Championships - 1968 US International Indoor Championships - 1968 Central California Championships - 1968 Queensland Championships - 1968 West of England Championships - 1968 British Covered Court Championships - 1968 Caribe Hilton Championships - 1968 Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Championship - 1968 Philadelphia Open - 1968 Bobby Riggs Masters Invitation - 1968 Richmond Indoor Championships - 1968 Concord Indoor Championships - 1968 Mexico International - 1968 New York Indoor - 1968 Charlotte - 1968 Bastad - 1968 Desert Inn Invitation - 1968 US National Amateur Championships - 1968 Australian Open - 1967 Nassau Bowl - 1967 Eastern Grass Court Championships - 1967 Sugar Bowl - 1967 US Clay Courts - 1967 US International Indoor Championships - 1967 Atlanta Invitation Tournament - 1967 Western Indoor Championship - 1967 Tasmanian Championships - 1967 Philadelphia Open - 1967 Western Australia Championships - 1967 Richmond Indoor Championships - 1967 New York Indoor - 1967 Long Island Indoor - 1967 Concord indoor invitation - 1967 Pan American Trials - 1967 Pan American Games - 1967 Long Island Masters - 1967 Australian Open - 1966 South Australian Championships - 1966 US Open - 1966 Victorian Championships - 1966 Newport Casino Tournament - 1966 Pacific Coast Championship - 1966 Southern California Championship - 1966 Pacific Southwest Championships - 1966 US International Indoor Championships - 1966 Kent Championships - 1966 Tasmanian Championships - 1966 Western Australia Championships - 1966 Richmond Indoor Championships - 1966 Kingston International Invitation - 1966 Thunderbird Invitation - 1966 Caribe Hilton International Championships - 1966 South American Championship - 1966 Dallas Invitation - 1966 Philadelphia Indoors - 1966 Wimbledon - 1965 US Open - 1965 Victorian Championships - 1965