Arthur Ashe was a pro-tennis player who was the first Black player selected to the US Davis Cup team and the only Black man to win the singles title at Wimbledon to name a few of his great accomplishments.
Ashe was born in Richmond, Virginia January 10, 1943. In his senior year he was sent to live with a friend of his coach, Richard Hudlin, in Missouri for more tennis training and to escape some of the southern discrimination – some! Missouri was what it was too. Hudlin once had been captain of the tennis team at the University of Chicago and was the most prominent figure in St. Louis’ black tennis community. Hudlin also taught at Sumner High School; established in 1875 as the first high school for black children west of the Mississippi.
One day, the now pro tennis player Ashe, came to visit Sumner and a young star struck teenager managed to worm her way into the private reception they were holding for him in the home economics department. That teenager was me. I attended Sumner High and even though he spelled my name wrong – and I was NOT about to correct him – I have treasured that moment and this autograph since. I remember him being such a soft spoken warm person.
Ashe died February 6, 1993 from HIV contracted from a blood transfusion he received during heart surgery in 1983. He publicly announced his illness in April 1992 and became an ardent educator about HIV and AIDS. He founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS and the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health before his death from AIDs related pneumonia at the age of 49 on February 6, 1993. On June 20, 1993, Ashe was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then United States President Bill Clinton.
Read more about Ashe here which includes his time in the Army, playing with his idol Pancho Gonzales and his other accomplishments.