July 10: Happy Birthday to Legendary Tennis Player, Arthur Ashe

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Arthur Robert Ashe was a World No. 1 professional tennis player. He won three Grand Slam titles, ranking him among the best tennis players from the United States.

Ashe was the 1st black player ever selected to the United States Davis Cup team and the only black man ever to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open.

He retired in 1980. He was ranked World No. 1 by Harry Hopman in 1968 and by Lance Tingay of The Daily Telegraph and World Tennis Magazine in 1975. In the ATP computer rankings, he peaked at No. 2 in May 1976.

In the early 1980s, Ashe contracted HIV from a blood transfusion he received during heart bypass surgery. Ashe publicly announced his illness in April 1992 and began working to educate others about HIV and AIDS. He founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS and the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health before his death from AIDS-related pneumonia on February 6, 1993.

On June 20, 1993, Ashe was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton.

?In 1979, Arthur Ashe was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. In commenting on his induction, the Hall noted that ”Arthur Ashe was certainly a hero to people of all ages and races, and his legacy continues to touch the lives of many today. For Arthur Ashe, tennis was a means to an end. Although he had a lucrative tennis career, it was always more than personal glory and individual accolades. He used his status as an elite tennis player to speak out against the moral inequalities that existed both in and out of the tennis world. Ashe sincerely wanted to bring about change in the world. What made him stand out was that he became a world champion along the way.”

?He was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Hall of Fame in 1983.

?In 1985, Ashe was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

?In 1986, Ashe won a Sports Emmy for co-writing the documentary “A Hard Road to Glory,” co-written with Bryan Polivka.

?The city of Richmond posthumously honored Ashe’s life with a statue on Monument Avenue, a place traditionally reserved for statues of key figures of the Confederacy. This decision led to some controversy in a city that was the capital of the Confederate States during the American Civil War.

?On June 20, 1993, Ashe was posthumously awarded thePresidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton.

?The Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center at Ashe’s alma mater, UCLA, is named for him. The center opened in 1997.

?The main stadium at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Park, where the US Open is played, is named Arthur Ashe Stadium in his honor. This is also the home of the annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day.

?In 2002, Ashe’s achievement at Wimbledon in 1975 was voted 95th in Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Sporting Moments.

?In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Arthur Ashe on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.

?In 2005, the United States Postal Service announced the release of an Arthur Ashe commemorative postal stamp, the first stamp ever to feature the cover of a Sports Illustrated magazine.

?Also in 2005, TENNIS Magazine put him in 30th place in their list of the 40 Greatest Players of the TENNIS Era.

?His wife wrote a book, Daddy and Me, a photographic journey told from the perspective of his young daughter.

?Another book, Arthur Ashe and Me, also gives young readers a chance to learn about his life.

?ESPN’s annual sports awards, the ESPY Awards, hands out the Arthur Ashe for Courage Award to a member of the sports world who best exhibits courage in the face of adversity.

?Philadelphia’s Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center and Richmond’s Arthur Ashe Athletic Center are named for Ashe.

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