The Story Of Arthur Ashe, The First Black Man To Win A Grand Slam

June 22, 2015 10:28 pm

Arthur Ashe was the first black man to win the U.S. Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon. Civil rights leader and charity worker, he used his position as the number one player to promote justice. His story is often considered the most legendary in sport history and this video tells us just how many odds were stacked against him.

At the time the country’s government enforced a strict policy of racial segregation called Apartheid. Because of this they denied him a South African visa despite his number 1 U.S. ranking.

He continued to keep applying for visas, and the country continued to deny him. In protest he used this example of discrimination to campaign for the expulsion of the nation from the International Lawn Tennis Federation. This was the beginning of his activism against Apartheid, which would become a central issue to him for the next two decades.

In January of 1970 Arthur won the Australian open, the second of his three career grand Slam singles titles. By the early 70s he had become one of the most famous tennis players. He has partnered in creating the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) in 1972 with Jack Kramer and others. The ATP was formed to represent the interests of male tennis pros.
South Africa eventually granted Arthur a visa in 1973. He was the first black pro to play in the national championships there.
The next man of African descent to win a grand slam title was Frenchman Yannick Noah, in 1983. In this video Noah speaks of the profound impact that Ashe had and continues to have on his own life. As Noah says, “He was my hero.”

The main stadium at Flushing Meadows in New York, the home of the US Open, is named in Arthur Ashe’s honour.

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