Quotes by Arthur Ashe

    • “Drummed into me, above all, by my dad, by the whole family, was that without your good name, you would be nothing.”
    • “Clothes and manners do not make the man, but where he is made they greatly improve his appearance.”
    • “Every time you win, it diminishes the fear a little bit. You never really cancel the fear of losing; you keep challenging it.”
    • “If I were to say ‘God, why me?’ about the bad things, then I should have said ‘God, why me?’ about the good things that happened in my life.”
    • “One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”
    • “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”
    • “You’ve got to get to the stage in life where going for it is more important than winning or losing.”
    • “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.”
    • “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.”

    • April 8, 1992 press conference:
      “We are 100 percent sure the cause of my HIV infection was a blood transfusion either after my 1979 bypass operation or my 1983 operation. We are 95 percent sure it was the ’83 operation.”
    • “Some folks call tennis a rich people’s sport or a white person’s game. I guess I started too early because I just thought it was something fun to do. Later, I discovered there was a lot of work to being good in tennis. You’ve got to make a lot of sacrifices and spend a lot of time if you really want to achieve with this sport, or in any sport, or in anything truly worthwhile.”
    • Reflecting back on his 1975 Wimbledon championship:
      “When I took the match point, all the years, all the effort, all the support I had received over the years came together. It’s a long way from Brook Field to Wimbledon.”
    • On his style of play:
      “What it is controlled cool, in a way. Always have the situation under control, even if losing. Never betray an inward sense of defeat.”
    • To his daughter Camera, as published in Days of Grace:
      “I may not be walking with you all the way, or even much of the way, as I walk with you now. Don’t be angry with me if I am not there in person, alive and well, when you need me. I would like nothing more than to be with you always. Do not feel sorry for me if I am gone. When we were together, I loved you deeply and you gave me so much happiness I can never repay you. Camera, wherever I am when you feel sick at heart and weary of life, or when you stumble and fall and don’t know if you can get up again, think of me. I will be watching and smiling and cheering you on.”
    • “The ideal attitude is to be physically loose and mentally tight.”
    • “Regardless of how you feel inside, always try to look like a winner. Even if you are behind, a sustained look of control and confidence can give you a mental edge that results in victory.”
    • “I don’t want to be remembered for my tennis accomplishments,” he once said. “That’s no contribution to society. That [tennis] was purely selfish; that was for me.”

“A wise person decides slowly but abides by these decisions.”

  • “Trust has to be earned, and should come only after the passage of time.”
  • “I know I could never forgive myself if IU elected to live without humane purpose, without trying to help the poor and unfortunate, without recognizing that perhaps the purest joy in life comes with trying to help others.”
  • “I wanted to indulge and explore my love of humanity and especially my concern for persons less fortunate than myself.”
  • “I keep sailing on in this middle passage. I am sailing into the wind and the dark. But I am doing my best to keep my boat steady and my sails full.”
  • “I accepted the face that as much as I want to lead others, and love to be around other people, in some essential way, I am something of a loner.”
  • “My only true regret, however, is that now that I see the world more clearly than ever, as I believe I do, I don’t seem to have the time left to translate my visions into action as I would like.”
  • “My potential is more than can be expressed within the bounds of my race or ethnic identity.”
  • “My humanity, in common with all of God’s children, gives the greatest flight to my full range of my possibilities.”
  • “I have always drawn strength from being close to home.”
  • “We must reach out our hand in friendship and dignity both to those who would befriend us and those who would be our enemy.”
  • “We must believe in the power of education. We must respect just laws. We must love ourselves, our old and or young, our women as well as our men.”
  • “I have tried to keep on with my striving because this is the only hope I have of ever achieving anything worthwhile and lasting.”

Quotes about Arthur Ashe

    • “He (Ashe) took the burden of race and wore it as a cloak of dignity.”
      — Andrew Young, former U.S. delegate to the United Nations
    • “From the first time I saw him play, I knew Arthur Ashe was destined for success as a tennis champion. He was never satisfied with his performance, always feeling he could do better.
      — Pancho Gonzales
    • “Sport is the American factory for children’s heroes because kids play games; they can relate and be awed. But Ashe was a rarer kind of hero, an example of what to do when playing stops; a role model for adults.”
      — S.L. Price, Sports Illustrated 9-19-1994
    • “To me Arthur was a shining light. He was a gentleman’s gentleman. I rejoiced when he won. I cried when he lost.”
      — Ivie Mitchell, Ashe’s former elementary school teacher
    • “Arthur was a good friend. Our families were close. I’ll miss him very much. It’s not just my loss. It’s everybody’s loss. Mine is just more personal. My kids and his daughter are friends. My wife, his wife and I are friends … I’m sorry there are no more words to say.”
      — Bryant Gumble
    • “I have always remembered when I first saw him practicing playing tennis by himself. For those who knew him, they knew he was not a lonely man, but that image says so much: solitary, strong and proud,”
      — Former Governor L. Douglas Wilder, Virginia’s first Black head of state
    • “Arthur Ashe’s life represents the very best of America, the opportunity to work hard and succeed.”
      — President Clinton

“Words cannot suffice to capture a career as glorious, a life as fully lived, or a commitment to justice as firm and as fair as was his.”
— New York Mayor David N. Dinkins

  • Arthur was the amazing one. He was a wonder to watch and behold.”
    — Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe
  • “I owe [Ashe] a great debt of gratitude for being able to deal with the pressures and situations. It took a great man and a great athlete like him to do that … to really break the color barrier in tennis and be such a great champion; and to be so well respected as a sportsman to where people could really add no disparaging remarks about him with any valid basis … I’m very grateful.”
    — James Blake, tennis star
  • “Arthur was–and through the example he set, still is–a role model to people throughout the world.”
    — Harry Marmion, president of the USTA
  • “Arthur Ashe Jr. is a true Virginia hero… He met the challenges of life with dignity, poise and grace.”
    — Johnnie Ashe, Arthur’s brother
  • “He saw it as his life’s work to leave behind a lasting memorial to all African-American athletes… Arthur returned to his roots. Let his legacy grow, in your soil. Water it, nurture it, and it will be the shining star that Arthur was for all of us.”
    — Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe