When Martin Luther King Jr. Wrote a Letter to Tennis Legend Arthur Ashe

January 19, 2021 3:50 pm

Tennis legend, Arthur Ashe created history in the world and in American tennis. He won three Grand Slam titles, first at the US Open in 1968, followed by the Australian Open in 1970, and finally at the Wimbledon in 1975. Even in doubles, he earned a considerable amount of success, winning at the French Open in 1971 and the Australian Open in 1977.

The American great first played at a Grand Slam in 1959 at the US Open and his last one was in 1979 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. He also helped the United States of America win the Davis Cup on four occasions, in 1963 and then again from 1968-1970. 

Recently, an old letter surfaced in which Martin Luther King Jr., the American freedom fighter, wrote to the American tennis great. Martin was well aware of Arthur’s qualities and position in the world of sports. He also expressed his wish to meet the tennis player in person. 

Tennis player Arthur Ashe was an eminent individual

The letter said, “Your eminence in the world of sports and athletics gives you an added measure of authority and responsibility. If we can ever be of assistance to you, do not hesitate to call upon us… I look forward to the pleasure of meeting you in person when the opportunity presents itself.”

The letter was written on February 7, 1968, from Washington D.C. At that time, Arthur was not yet an established star and had not won a Grand Slam title. 

Prior to winning his first Grand Slam title, Arthur was a two-time finalist at the Australian Open in 1966 and 1967. The only major he never won was the French Open, although his best performance at the tournament was reaching the quarterfinal rounds in 1970 and 1971. 

A general view of Arthur Ashe Stadium is seen as Alexander Zverev of Germany serves the ball in the third set during his Men’s Singles final match against and Dominic Thiem of Austria on Day Fourteen of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 13, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Post-retirement, Arthur wrote for The Washington Post and the Time magazine. Thereafter, he commentated for ABC Sports. The American great captained the United States of America Davis Cup team from 1981-1985. The Centre Court at the US Open is also named after the American legend. 

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Rohan Kollare

Rohan Kollare is a tennis author at EssentiallySports and is based in Mumbai. Prior to this, he has studied Business Management before which he worked at Disney Hotstar in content operations. During his early years, Rohan used to play tennis at the state and district levels. He idolizes Roger Federer.

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