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Arthur Ashe

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Arthur Ashe was born on July 10, 1943. He was only about 4 years old when he learned how to play tennis. When Arthur was 7 years old, he met Ronald Charity, one of the best black tennis players in the nation and also a coach. Ronald started to coach him and teach him how to stroke the ball with proper form. In 1953, Ronald thought that the only way he could keep improving was by giving him a new coach. He then introduced him to Dr. Walter Johnson, the coach of the only African-American competing in world tennis at the time. Dr. Johnson would become his lifelong coach. As Arthur was doing this, he was at the top of his class for school with straight A?s.


In 1958, Arthur played his first tournament. After this he started to travel all around the country for tennis tournaments. It was very hard for him to practice his tennis because he lived in Richmond, Virginia and the only outdoor tennis courts were either labeled white, or colored and there were not many black tennis players that could keep up with his level of play. The only way for him to keep getting better now was to go somewhere else. So before he started his senior year in high school, he was sent to St. Louis, Missouri. In St. Louis he stayed with one of Dr. Johnson?s friends. As Arthur got better, he started winning tournaments and was put in the December 12, 1960 issue of Sports Illustrated and he was becoming well known. After seeing this, the University of California, Los Angeles offered him a full scholarship for college.


After graduating from high school, first in his class, he took the scholarship and went to UCLA. At the time UCLA was one of the best college tennis programs. In the same year he was put in the U.S. Davis Cup team as its first African-American player. He played on this team until 1970, then again in 1975, 1976, and 1978. In 1966 he graduated from UCLA with a degree in business administration.


In 1966-1968 Arthur served his country by joining the U.S. Army. He reached the rank of second lieutenant. While he was in the army he hadn?t stopped playing tennis, by playing in the Davis Cup and a few other tournaments. In 1968 he won the U.S. Open as an amateur ranking, but they gave the prize money to the other finalist because he had an amateur ranking. Arthur was now the only African-American to win a title. After returning to his station in West Point, he co-founded the National Junior Tennis League.


In 1970 Arthur won the Australian open and then in 1975 he defeated Jimmy Connors in Wimbledon to win his third grand slam. When Arthur won this tournament he was given the #1 men?s ranking in the world. After winning Wimbledon, Arthur met a photographer named Jeanne Moutoussamy, who he married on February 20, 1977.


In 1979, while holding a tennis clinic in New York, Arthur had a heart attack. He was hospitalized for ten days. Later that year, Arthur underwent quadruple-bypass surgery. Because of all of this he suffered chest pains and in 1980 decided to retire from tennis. Arthur had a record of 818 wins, 260 losses and 51 titles. But that didn?t stop him, he started many new things like writing for Time Magazine, the Washington Post and the Tennis Magazine. Arthur was also appointed captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team and was the chairman of the American Heart Association.


Arthur had a second bypass surgery in 1983. After the surgery, in order for him to recover he received a blood transfusion. It was because of this that led to Arthur getting HIV. In 1985 he was put into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. A year after this on December 21, 1986 Arthur and Jeanne?s daughter, Camera, was born. About the time his daughter was born he agreed to teach a course at Florida Memorial College. The name of this course was ?The Black Athlete in Contemporary Society.?


In 1988, Arthur felt numbness in his right hand and was hospitalized. The tests showed that he had an infection that happened mostly in people with HIV. After more testing, it was confirmed that Arthur had HIV, which could cause AIDS. Arthur decided to keep the information that the tests showed private at the time.


In 1992, USA Today contacted Arthur about his chest pains and how his illness was. He then decided to tell the paper and everyone else that he had AIDS by holding a press conference on April 8, 1992. He wanted to do something about AIDS, so he founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS. This foundation was made to raise money for research so they could hopefully treat, cure and prevent AIDS. Later that year Arthur was named Sports Illustrated?s Sportsman of the Year. At the end of the year he founded the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health. Arthur also took his last few months of his life to write ?Days of Grace,? his memoir that he finished only days before his death.


On February 6, 1993, Arthur Ashe died of AIDS at the age 49. He was given the honor of having his body laid in state at the Governor?s Mansion in Richmond, VA, his hometown. This made him the first person to lie in state there since general Stonewall Jackson. Arthur Ashe was a great man. He did so much not just for tennis, but also for African-American?s in professional sports, AIDS, fighting Apartheid, and peoples health.





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