Arthur Ashe

arthur-asheArthur Ashe (1943-1993) was one of the most exceptional tennis players in the history of the sport. Born in Richmond, Virginia, Ashe served in the United States Army and had a good early amateur career. By the end of his life in 1993, Ashe was recognized not only for his tennis, but also for his political campaigns on behalf of racial equality in the United States, Haiti, and South Africa. Also, as a victim of AIDS, Ashe campaigned for AIDS research near the end of his life.  

When Ashe turned professional in 1969, he was an African American player in a sport completely dominated by whites. At the peak of his career in the 1970s, Ashe won the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and doubles titles at the French and Australian Opens.
Interestingly, Ashe encouraged young blacks not to waste their energies on sports. Instead, he recommended channeling energy into academic and vocation-related studies. His recommendation seems appropriate to this day. While it is the case that sports can provide positive role models and encourage hard work and discipline, it is also the case that many young athletes dream unrealistically of professional careers at the exclusion of school. The odds of successfully making a professional league are statistically next to impossible. Despite his own success, Ashe recognized this.  

Mindful of racism in American society, Ashe always thought of his own career in terms of the general experience of blacks in America. He wrote several books recounting these ideas. Ashe’s historical writing on the history of African Americans in sport spawned a multimedia series, A Hard Road to Glory.  

Today, while a few more blacks have been successful in sports traditionally dominated by whites, it is still the case that whites dominate. The recent successes of athletes like the Williams sisters in tennis and Tiger Woods in golf sometimes conceal the fact that these sports are still predominantly white. According to Ashe’s thinking, it would be a mistake to take one role model, such as Tiger Woods, and from that conclude that race problems in sport no longer exist. Like any institution, race relations in sport should be thought of for their long-term trends, not individual exceptions.  

Arthur Ashe contracted the HIV virus through a blood transfusion and died of AIDS in 1993, aged 50. While since his death he has become revered and respected, in the 1980s near the end of his life he was unpopular for his ideas. However, his combination of political campaigning and athletic prowess has made him a revered figure in American history.

1 thought on “Arthur Ashe

  • exceptional

    unusually good
    ᅳsynonym outstanding

    Richard is an exceptional student.
    exceptional bravery
    All her children are intelligent, but the youngest girl is really exceptional. (=unusually intelligent)
    It was an exceptional game.
    The firefighters showed exceptional bravery.
    exceptional talent  
    she is exceptionally qualified for this job

    On behalf of


    to have or exercise control or power (over):
    The committee works well together, although sometimes the chairman tends to dominate.


    [sentence adverb] used to introduce a fact that you think is interesting
    Interestingly, none of their three children ever married. Interestingly enough , Pearson made no attempt to deny the rumour.
    in an interesting way
    His essay was clearly and interestingly written.


    past tense and past participle channelled present participle channelling British English
    past tense and past participle channeled present participle channeling American English
    to control and direct something such as money or energy towards a particular purpose
    ᅳsynonym direct
    channel something into something
    Most of his energy was channeled into writing and lecturing.
    channel something to somebody
    Profits are channelled to conservation groups.
    channel something through something
    The famine relief money was channelled through the UN.


    a job, esp. one done because of a special fitness or ability to give service to other people:
    Teaching children ought to be a vocation as well as a way of earning money.
    At 17 she found her true vocation as a writer.


    unrealistic ideas or hopes are not reasonable or sensible
    it is unrealistic to do something
    It is unrealistic to expect these changes to happen overnight.
    Some parents have totally unrealistic expectations of teachers.

    ᅳunrealistically / -kli / adverb



    the odds
    how likely it is that something will or will not happen
    The odds are (=it is likely) that he will commit the same crime again.
    the odds of
    You can narrow the odds of a nasty accident happening in your home by being more safety-conscious.
    the odds against
    The odds against a plane crash are around a million to one.
    I’m afraid that the odds are heavily against her winning (=it is not likely) .

    The odds are in favour of a Russian victory (=it is likely) . What are the odds (=how likely is it) that they will mess up?
    a new company that has beaten the odds and succeeded (=it was not likely to succeed, but it did)





    giving attention (to); not forgetful (of):

    ᅳsynonym conscious of
    Mindful of the need to maintain efficient communications, the committee makes the following proposals. . .
    The school is mindful of its responsibilities towards all the children.


    to tell (a story):

    She recounted her adventures.

    in this book, he recounts the adventures of his journey  
    recount how/what
    Alan recounted how he and Joyce had met.


    to bring into existence, esp. in large numbers, to make a series of things happen or start to exist:
    The computer industry has spawned a lot of new companies.
    New technology has spawned new business opportunities.


    to hide; keep from being seen or known: He concealed his feelings/his debts from his wife.
    He was found to be carrying a concealed weapon.
    She tried to conceal how she felt.
    The path was concealed by long grass.


    mostly, mainly
    The city’s population is predominantly Irish.
    Jamaica’s population is predominantly black.
    this school’s students are predominantly Black


    to decide that something is true after considering all the information you have
    ᅳsee also conclusion
    conclude that
    The report concluded that the school should be closed immediately.
    conclude from something that
    Richardson concluded from his studies that equality between the sexes is still a long way off.


    a general tendency in the way a situation is changing or developing
    trend towards
    Lately there has been a trend towards hiring younger, cheaper employees.
    trend in
    recent trends in education
    The current trend is towards more part-time employment.
    the general trend towards the centralization of political power
    A disturbing trend is that victims of violence are getting younger.
    The growing trend is for single mothers to bring up children by themselves.
    Even so, the underlying trend is positive.
    national and international economic trends
    the downward trend in the price of gold
    Successive presidents have tried to reverse this trend , but without success.


    to get an illness
    Two-thirds of the adult population there has contracted AIDS.
    he contracted syphilis


    formal to respect and admire someone or something very much
    be revered as something
    He is revered as a national hero.
    a poet revered by all  
    they were taught to revere their country’s past glories to the point of worship   
    revere your parents  
    to revere the memory of a great leader
    a much revered institution


    great skill at doing something
    his physical prowess

    military prowess


    someone who is important or famous in some way
    a leading/key/central
    figure Several leading figures resigned from the party.
    the outstanding political figure of his time

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