Tennis’ Greatest Ambassador Arthur Ashe
From No. 1 tennis player in the world to fierce humanitarian, Arthur Ashe knew no limits in every chapter of his exceptional life.
via Black Past
Ashe won 33 singles titles as a professional, including three Grand Slam events before forced retirement at age 36 after he suffered from a heart attack in 1979.
For many, this could have been career-ending, but for Ashe, it became an opportunity. Ashe began to transition his superstar tennis career into the realm of public service, becoming an advocate of many social causes — causes that were ceaseless until the end of his life.
“I know I could never forgive myself if I elected to live without human purpose,” he said, “without trying to help the poor and unfortunate, without recognizing that perhaps the purest joy in life comes with trying to help others.”
In January, we’re auctioning hundreds of Ashe’s items from his personal collection, including scores of awards he was bestowed at different points in his life, from his early tennis career at UCLA to the countless accolades, honorary degrees, even an Emmy Award.
In the realm of tennis, we’re auctioning major awards from some of his greatest tennis wins in history, including his Davis Cup award from the U.S. victory in 1979.
In 1963 Ashe made history as the first black player selected for the U.S. Team and in 1979, the year of this award, he was awarded a trophy for being part of the team that won first place.
“Since no black American had ever been on the team, I was now a part of history,” Ashe wrote in his memoir, Days of Grace. “Despite segregation, I loved the United States.”
We’re also auctioning Arthur Ashe’s other Davis Cup-related memorabilia over the years, including his personalized vest from his service as U.S. Davis Cup Team Captain in 1981.
We’re auctioning his prestigious “Sports Illustrated” Sportsman of the Year trophy awarded to Arthur Ashe in 1992, in the final year of his life.
Representing his new life post-tennis retirement, we’re auctioning his Yale University Kiphuth Award, given to tennis legend in 1983. This award is symbolic of his transition into the realm of public service.
Arthur Ashe’s Silver Olympic Order, the highest award of the Olympic movement, which he was awarded posthumously in 1993.
Additionally, the “George Thomas ‘Mickey’ Leland Award” presented to Arthur Ashe posthumously by the Congressional Black Caucus, the organization that represents all African American Congress members.
Also up for auction is Ashe’s Documentary Emmy Award for the teleplay adaptation of his 1988 book, “A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete.”
Throughout his entire life, “He took the burden of race and wore it as a cloak of dignity,” as Andrew Young, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations & friend of Arthur Ashe’s so aptly put it.
Be sure to check out all the Ashe items in our upcoming January auction.