July 5, 1975: Arthur Ashe becomes the 1st black man to win Wimbledon, defeating Jimmy Connors in a shocking upset.
Ashe accomplished a great many firsts in his tennis career. He was the 1st African-American to win the National Junior Indoor tennis title and the 1st to be selected to the United States Davis Cup team.
In 1968, he became the 1st black man to win the United States Open.
In 1975, the 31-year-old entered Wimbledon as the No. 6 seed. Connors was the heavy favorite, having destroyed his opponents in his march toward the title match.
Yet The New York Times reported:
“Before a stunned center-court court crowd, Ashe won, 6-1, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4. […] Ashe confounded him. He threw ‘junk’ at Jimmy, he chipped and dinked, mostly to the backhand. He tossed up lobs. He served solidly all the way through, and his forehand volley, admittedly his weakness, was a tower of strength at the infighting around the net.”
A key to Ashe’s victory was his demeanor.
The Times article peppered a description of the match with observations of Ashe’s methodical manner:
“On the changeovers Ashe sat still, eyes closed, meditating, relaxing for the task ahead. Outwardly unemotional, Ashe pressed on with the plan. Deliberate and careful, Ashe stuck to the battle plan.”
This unemotional, steady demeanor served Ashe well in much larger battles.
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