Having grown up in the segregated South, Arthur Ashe became the first Black man to win the U.S. Open in 1968. The victory helped him find his voice on a wide array of social-justice issues.
Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. was the first African-American male to win the US Open (1968), Australian Open (1970), and Wimbledon (1975), and was formerly USLTA No.1 ranked player (1968). Remarkably, Arthur served as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and was stationed at the U.S. Military Academy when he won the 1968 U.S. Open. In 1963 he was the first African-American chosen to play Davis Cup for the United States, and in ten years representing his country, helped the US win five championships (1963, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1978). Following his retirement from tennis in 1980, Arthur became captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team, a position he held from 1981 to 1985.
Before his illustrious tennis professional career, Ashe graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1966 with a B.A. in Business Administration. While attending UCLA, he won the 1965 NCAA Singles and Doubles Championship (partnered with Ian Crookenden) and helped lead the UCLA Men’s team to the 1965 NCAA Championship title.
Arthur Ashe was also known for his philanthropy off-court. In 1969 Arthur co-founded the National Junior Tennis League (NJTL) with Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder. The program was designed to expose children to tennis who might not otherwise have opportunities to play while fostering a sense of discipline and attention to academics. Later, in 1972, Arthur helped found the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the organization that unionized the professional tour and protected the interests of its players. Following a heart attack in 1979, at age 36, ultimately leading to his retirement and a second heart attack in 1983, Arthur subsequently contracted HIV from a blood transfusion. This led Ashe to creating the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS.