Today we recognize Game Changer Arthur Ashe, a tennis icon and social activist.
Arthur Ashe rose through the tennis ranks in the late 1960s and 70s. He became the first black man to win a Wimbledon, US Open, or Australian Open, and remains the only one til this day. Along with Yannick Noah (French Open), father of NBA player Joakim Noah, he is one of two players to have ever won any Grand Slam singles title. Ashe was the first black player selected to an US Davis Cup team. Throughout his career, he won numerous singles and doubles championships. In 1979, he was ranked as one of the 21 best players of all time.
Throughout his sports career, Ashe began his foray into sociopolitical activism. After being denied a spot in the 1972 South African Open, Ashe used the incident to publicize the atrocities of apartheid in South Africa. However it was after his retirement in 1980 that his political activism really came into fruition. Ashe was arrested for protesting apartheid outside the South African embassy in Washington, D.C. He also fought for Haitian refugees and immigration reform in the US. But it is his work as an advocate for AIDS awareness for which he is most known.
After his HIV/AIDS diagnosis was made public in 1992, Ashe began to advocate for greater awareness of the virus. He fought for safe sex education, and wanted to dispel the notion that HIV/AIDS was a disease only contracted by homosexuals and IV drug users. He went on to found the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS, and the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health. Ashe passed away on February 6, 1993, and his body was allowed to lie in state at the Governor’s mansion in his home city of Richmond, Virginia.
Arthur Ashe fought for his titles as an athlete, and fought for the rights of humans around the world as a man.