The Official Site of Arthur Ashe
The Official Site of Arthur Ashe The Official Site of Arthur AsheThe Official Site of Arthur Ashe The Official Site of Arthur Ashe The Official Site of Arthur Ashe
The Official Site of Arthur Ashe  

BIOGRAPHY (page 2)

By the mid-1970’s, people began to whisper that perhaps Arthur was spending too much time on his causes and not enough time on his game. It was from this realization that Arthur began to refocus on his game, determined to reach the level of play he once enjoyed. In 1975, at the age of 31, Arthur Ashe enjoyed one of his finest seasons ever and one of the shining moments of his career by winning Wimbledon. He also attained the ultimate ranking of #1 in the world.

Following his retirement in 1980, and unexpected heart surgeries in 1979 and 1983, Arthur began reaping awards and branching off into other professional areas, including journalism, the media and philanthropic endeavors. Included among those were positions as a commentator for HBO Sports and ABC Sports, as a columnist for The Washington Post and Tennis magazine, the publishing of Arthur’s 3-volume body of work, “A Hard Road To Glory,” a stint as captain of the US Davis Cup team, a well-deserved election to the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985, and the founding of numerous charitable organizations, including the National Junior Tennis League, the ABC Cities Tennis Program, the Athlete-Career Connection, and the Safe Passage Foundation.

Arthur looked to be making a smooth transition into the second-half of his life, even becoming a father in 1986, when his daughter Camera Elizabeth arrived. During a doctor’s exam in 1988, however, the Ashe’s lives were irrevocably changed.

While in the hospital for brain surgery, Arthur received the overwhelming news that he was HIV-Positive. He had contracted the virus through a tainted transfusion during his two heart surgeries, almost certainly the second in 1983. Wishing to maintain his and his family’s privacy, and well-aware of the prejudice and paranoia that was often associated with the disease during its first years of existence, the Ashe’s, with help from close friends and trusted medical advisors, were able to keep the startling information from the public’s awareness. At issue were Arthur and Jeanne’s desire to raise their daughter Camera in as normal an environment as possible, a desire that would have been made impossible with a public disclosure.

Because of pressure from a national newspaper that was indicating they had on good record that he had AIDS, Arthur, rather than let the rumors persist, elected to make his condition known to the world through a scheduled a press conference on the morning of April 8, 1992. The knowledge that his life and the lives of his family members would forever be altered was foremost on Arthur’s mind. After his admission to the world, an outpouring of compassion and support arrived, inspiring Arthur to begin AAFDA. This outpouring can only perhaps be compared to the day Lou Gehrig announced his retirement and contraction of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Arthur Ashe passed away on February 6, 1993, having raised awareness of AIDS to a level where paranoia was no longer the overriding emotion.

For Arthur Ashe, tennis was a means to an end. What began on the public recreation courts in Richmond, Virginia, ultimately became a lucrative, illustrious 10-year career. In between were many honors and awards, including three Grand Slam singles titles and over 800 career victories. But for Arthur, it was always more than personal glory and individual accolades. Rather, it was the knowledge that his status as an elite tennis player afforded him a unique and worldwide platform to speak out about inequities, both in the tennis world and society as a whole. That in and of itself was unique, but not outstanding. Arthur stood out when he chose to utilize his status to bring about change. That is what makes his legacy so unique and important.

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