Arthur Robert Ashe Jr., legendary tennis player,human rights activist, and educator, was born on July 10, 1943, in Richmond,Virginia, to Arthur Sr. and Mattie Cunningham Ashe. At the age of four, he began playing tennis atBrook Field, a black-only park where his father worked as caretaker.
Before she died in 1950, Ashe’s mother taught him the importance ofeducation. His father, now a singleparent, sponsored his early development in tennis. Ashe developed into a prodigy in the early 1950sunder his lifelong coach Dr. Walter Johnson, who also trained professionaltennis player and golfer Althea Gibson. In1953, at the age of 10, Ashe won the American Tennis Association’s National Championship for boys 12 years and under. Determined to play in the all-white Junior United States TennisAssociation (USTA), Ashe broke its racial barrier in 1957 when he competed in Marylandboys championships. This led to hisregular inclusion in local summer UTSA tournaments from 1957 to 1960.
In 1960, 17-year-old Ashe first gained national recognition as a high schoolstudent-athlete in Sports Illustrated. The following year he entered theUniversity of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) on a full scholarship. In Ashe’s sophomore year he made the 1963 USDavis Cup team, a feat he repeated from 1964 to 1970 and again in 1975, 1976and 1978. In 1965 Ashe was named the top-ranked amateur player in men’s tennis and, asteam captain, guided the UCLA tennis team t o the NCAA teamchampionship, winning the individual and doubles titles.
From 1966 to 1968, Ashe attended the US MilitaryAcademy at West Point, New York and graduated with the rank of secondlieutenant. In 1969 he first spoke outagainst South African apartheid which he saw as an extension of his fightagainst Jim Crow in the United States. From that date he became one of the most outspoken opponents of apartheid, constantly using his own success to challenge SouthAfrica. In 1973 he forced concessions whichled to his inclusion in the 1973 South African Open.