My history hero: Tracy Austin chooses Arthur Ashe

The former women’s No 1 tennis player Tracy Austin chooses Arthur Ashe (1943–93)

Arthur Ashe in action at Wimbledon, where he won the men's singles title in 1975. (Photo by Ed Lacey / Popperfoto / Getty Images)

Arthur Ashe was an American tennis player who won three Grand Slam singles titles, and is still the only black man to have won the men’s singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open. He was also the first black player to be selected for the US Davis Cup team. Ashe, who became known for his social activism after retiring, is believed to have contracted HIV from a blood transfusion he received during heart bypass surgery.

When did you first hear about Ashe?

As a girl of 12, growing up and passionate about tennis, I first became aware of him when he won the final against Jimmy Connors at Wimbledon in 1975. Arthur played a thoughtful, tactical match: it wasn’t so much about power as about backhand slices, hitting the ball low and not allowing Jimmy his rhythm. I’ll always remember everyone at my tennis club sitting around and watching the game, aware that history was being made.

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