Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe

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Arthur Ashe was someone who was able to touch people with not only his superb tennis skills, but also his abilities off the court, like his superb speaking skills and knowledge of the world around him. He was willing to put aside his tennis in order to try to change what was wrong with the world. Arthur Ashe was a brave and gifted person willing to take risks to make a difference and influenced many people's lives.
In 1970, Arthur Ashe became a familiar name after Ashe easily won the 1970 Australian Open. He immediately used his new status as a popular, well-known figure in order for him to be able to address social issues and be listened to. During Apartheid, Ashe attempted to ban South Africa's participation in the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF). By calling for South Africa to be banned from the Federation, he immediately saw how great his influence was, as his call was immediately granted. This made all of America take note of Ashe's powerful personal opinions and desire to get them across. Ashe spent the next couple of months after this speaking out against unfair on racial policies. This made everybody stand up and take notice and in addition to getting banned form the ILTF, South Africa was also excluded from Davis Cup competition as a direct result of Ashe's influence with his words. Though he was unable to stop Apartheid with his words, he was able to make people aware of the horrors going on and also weakened it by getting the tennis organizations to exclude them from competitions, mainly the Davis cup.
During this time, Ashe still hadn't given up on tennis, and continued to play well in addition to his large and ever-growing influence. In an unforgettable match, Ashe defeated popular player and Hall of Famer, Jimmy Connors and won the singles title of Wimbledon in 1975. The victory made Ashe the first black man ever to win this extremely prestigious tournament. Even now, no other black man has been able to win Wimbledon. Ashe went on to end the season ranked number one in tennis. He is also the first and only black man ever to achieve that honor.
Ashe's career tragically came to an end when he suffered a heart attack while participating in a New York tennis clinic in 1979.

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Ashe ended up hospitalized and was never the same again. After suffering acute chest pain during practice and workout sessions he finally decided to stop playing professional tennis, and retired in 1980. However, his influence in the tennis world showed to be extremely great. Immediately after Ashe's retirement, he was offered the job of being the United States Davis Cup team captain (coach). He decided to accept the position and served as the captain for the next five years.
One of the few criticisms people had about Ashe was that he wasn't thoroughly outspoken about the racial issues in the US. Ashe realized this and decided to use his retirement to partake in many civil rights activities. In addition to this, he became the national chairman of the American Heart Association, and used his time to help teach young children about the game of tennis. Even though he still was battling heart trouble, he worked very hard over the next few years. However, in 1983 he was told that he must have double bypass surgery. Ashe had the operation the following day. Ashe is given a blood transfusion, after complaining of weakness. This would prove to be a very costly transfusion, as he would end up paying with his life later.
After Ashe was released from the hospital, he continued his work by writing a three-volume history of African American athletes. However, shortly after his book was printed, in 1988, he felt numbness in his right hand. He admitted himself to the hospital, where they ran tests on him in order to properly diagnose him. The tests showed that he had toxoplasmosis, which was an infection commonly found in HIV positive patients. After a blood test, Ashe discovered that he was HIV-positive. He was told that the 1983 transfusion was most likely how he contracted the disease.
Even with his world being turned upside down, he continued to attempt to make a difference. After announcing to the world that he was HIV positive, his friends and family rallied around him. With this, Ashe dedicated the remainder of his life to AIDS education. He spoke in schools and neighborhoods, at sporting events, and addressed the United Nations General Assembly on World AIDS Day in 1992. He continued to educate people on AIDS until his death on February 6, 1993.
I hope that after reading my paper, you see that Arthur Ashe was a tremendous person who put the education and well-being of others before himself. Unlike most other athletes, he addressed issues such as Apartheid and civil rights and made more people aware of worldly issues. Even after being diagnosed with a disease such as AIDS, he continued to serve others the same way as he did before. Ashe was able to take his disability and make it into an ability, and very few people are able to say that, especially when that ability is to help others. Hopefully there will be people who follow Ashe's example and choose serve people first and foremost, regardless of their accomplishments.

Bibliography
Arthur Ashe- http://www.cmgworldwide.com/sports/ashe/about/bio.htm
Tribute to Arthur Ashe- http://partners.nytimes.com/library/sports/040992ashe.html
Arthur Ashe Biography- http://library.thinkquest.org/10615/no-frames/games/arthurarticle.html
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