Arthur Ashe


Born: 10/7/1943 Died: 6/2/1993

Australian Open 1970

Wimbledon 1975

US Open 1968

Arthur Ashe is famous not only for being a great tennis player but also for his achievements outside the sport. Ashe's mother died when Arthur was six and his father later remarried. Arthur's father was a recreation park policeman and there were tennis courts at one of the parks he worked at. Young Arthur soon felll in love with the game. Physician Dr. Walter Johnson helped fund Arthur and taught him on the same courts he had once taught Althea Gibson. Ashe made his Grand Slam debut in the US Open in 1959, where he lost in the opening round to Rod Laver. Ashe's progress was slow but steady. At the US Open in 1965 Ashe beat Roy Emerson in the quarters before losing in four sets to Manuel Santana in the semis. At the Australian Open in 1966 Ashe beat Tony Roche in the quarters and Fred Stolle in the semis before losing in the final to Roy Emerson in four sets. Ashe then enlisted in the Army, where he was assigned to the data processing office of the Military Academy at West Point, which allowed him to continue his amateur tennis career. At the 1967 Australian, Ashe beat John Newcombe in four sets in the semis before losing to Emerson in the final in straight sets. At the first Open Wimbledon in 1968 Ashe beat Newcombe in five sets in the fourth round and Tom Okker in four sets in the quarters before losing to Laver in straight sets in the semis. Having already won the US Amateur, Ashe beat Frank Parker, Roy Emerson, Clark Graebner and Okker in five sets in the final to take the first Open US Championship. Ashe left the Army in February 1969 and promptly turned professional. Over the next few years Ashe gained a reputation for being a brilliant player in spells, but he was rarely able to sustain these spells long enough to win matches against the very best in Grand Slams. At Wimbledon in 1969 Ashe beat Pancho Gonzales in the fourth round and Bob Lutz in the quarters before losing in the semis to Laver in four sets. At the US Open, Ashe beat Santana in the fourth round and Ken Rosewall in the quarters before losing to Laver again in the semis. Against a depleted field at the 1970 Australian Open Ashe made it through to the final where he met Dick Crealy. The match was played in a light drizzle. Ashe rushed Crealy and forced the Aussie into making errors. Ashe won the match with ease to take his first Australian Open title. Defending his title the following year, Ashe beat Fred Stolle, Cliff Drysdale and Bob Lutz before losing in straight set in the final to Rosewall. At the 1971 French Open Ashe lost to Frank Froehling in the quarters. At the US Open he lost to Jan Kodes in the semis having led two sets to one. At the US Open in 1972, Ashe beat top seed and defending champion Stan Smith in the quarters in straight sets and Cliff Richey in the semis before losing to Ilie Nastase in the final having led two sets to one. At Wimbledon 1975 Ashe beat Bjorn Borg in four sets in the quarters and Tony Roche in the semis in five sets. In the final Ashe totally changed his natural way of playing and softballed his opponent Jimmy Connors, who thrived off the pace of his opponent's shots. Ashe was totally focussed on what he had to do and seemed in a trance at changeovers. In contrast Connors looked edgy and never got to grips with Ashe’s sliced shots which kept low off the turf. 32 year old Ashe won in four sets to record one of the biggest upsets of modern times. At the Australian Open in 1978 Ashe lost in the semis to John Marks 9-7 in the fifth set and played his final Grand Slam event the following year at Wimbledon, where he went out in the opening round to C.Kachel in straight sets. Ashe then suffered a mild heart attack and retired. After retiring he spent much of his time campaigning for racial equality and doing charity work for underprivileged children. He was also still heavily involved with tennis. He spotted a young Yannick Noah on a trip to the Cameroon and persuaded him to come to France to further his career. Ashe was U.S. Davis Cup captain and clashed with the volatile John McEnroe, someone with a very different temperament and outlook on life to him. In 1984 Ashe had a routine blood transfusion which was later found to contain HIV. Ashe died of AIDS in February 1993 at the age of 49. In 1997 the new Centre Court at the US Open was named after him.


HEAD TO HEAD Win-Loss: B.Borg 1-1, B.Bowrey 1-0, J.Connors 1-0, M.Edmondson 1-0, R.Emerson 2-4, V.Gerualaitis 1-1, A.Gimeno 0-1, P.Gonzales 1-0, J.Kodes 1-2, R.Laver 0-4, I.Lendl 0-1, C.McKinley 0-1, I.Nastase 0-1, J.Newcombe 2-3, M.Orantes 1-1, R.Osuna 0-1, F.Parker 1-0, N.Pietrangeli 1-0, T.Roche 2-1, K.Rosewall 1-1, M.Santana 1-1, S.Smith 1-0, F.Stolle 2-1, R.Tanner 0-1, G.Vilas 1-1

Arthur Ashe's Grand Slam record