What the Life of One of the First Black Tennis Superstars Can Teach Us About Playing the Long Game

Arthur Ashe’s Struggles with Segregation and AIDS Are a Model for Championing a More Just Society

We tend to recognize heroes like Arthur Ashe in a kind of short-hand: first African-American man to win singles tennis titles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and the Australian Open; first African-American to be selected to represent the U.S. at the Davis Cup; and, at the university where I teach—UCLA—one of the most famous alums, period.

But these accolades aren’t the main reason I teach a seminar focusing on Ashe’s life. The trajectory of this tennis player’s life—from his birth in the Jim Crow South of the 1940s to his …