Quotes on the legendary Arthur Ashe

Ashe died on February 6, 1993.© Getty Images
"I was grateful to have the opportunity to award Arthur Ashe a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom during my first year in office. His place as one of the greatest tennis players in history is secure, but that was just one dimension of an amazingly rich life. Never allowing himself to be defined by tennis alone, he championed against racial discrimination on behalf of African-American tennis players and took the first visionary steps to combat the socially debilitating stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, the disease that eventually ended his life. On the tenth anniversary of his death, we are reminded of our own responsibilities to forge ahead down the path he blazed, toward a world where inequalities are erased and people can finally be judged on the merit of their minds and hearts rather than the color of their skin or the status of their health. Arthur Ashe is an American hero, and an inspiration to all of us committed to building this better world."  – President Bill Clinton

“Arthur Ashe was my hero growing up. His name in my hometown of Richmond, Va., was magic, especially when he was at his competitive peak. I was the first so impressed with his tennis ability, but his contributions to improving the world around him will last for a long time.”
Rodney Harmon, former tennis pro and USTA High Performance Director of Men’s Tennis, who, like Ashe, grew up in Richmond, Va.

“Arthur Ashe’s integrity and courage remind us all of what the possibilities are for an athlete who cares about the larger world. Ashe not only changed tennis, but he enriched the lives of all those with whom he came into contact.” – Former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley

“Arthur Ashe is truly a role model in every sense of the word to all people, not just tennis players. He used his fame and fortune for good and to help others. Instead of selfishly just taking, he chose to give back and did so to amazing lengths. He overshadowed his amazing tennis career with being a much more admirable person, and that is a goal I believe that any person can look up to and aim for.” – James Blake, member of the U.S. Davis Cup Team and highest-ranking African-American man in the ATP rankings.

“Even with all of the grace and talent Arthur brought to tennis, I will always remember that he did so much off the court to help humanity. Arthur and I cared a lot about many of the same things, and while we often had different approaches, we were always comparing notes to make sure that the job was getting done. He and I talked a lot about making tennis more hospitable. We saw it as our job to make sure everyone felt welcome in our sport and that no one was left standing at the door. I know he is watching down on all of us as we all try to carry on with his dreams, and I hope he really sees what a great contribution he made to tennis and to humanity.” – Tennis legend Billie Jean King

Ashe rips a forehand from behind the baseline.© Getty Images
"My first experience in Davis Cup was when Arthur invited me to be a Davis Cup practice partner when I was a junior player in 1983 when the USA played against Ireland. Now, more than 20 years later, to be in the position that he held with such dignity and class is a real privilege. What I find interesting and noble about Arthur and his tennis career is that he held the Davis Cup and representing his country at the highest level. After he won Wimbledon in 1975, he still said that winning the Davis Cup for the United States was a more memorable moment for him."
Patrick McEnroe, captain of the U.S. Davis Cup Team and general manager of USTA Player Development

"I was impressed more by Arthur's off-court achievements than how well he could hit a tennis ball. There are a lot of tennis players who won more majors than Arthur, but I can't think of a single player who has impacted the world community as much as he did and still does. Whether it was his dedication to youth, fighting AIDS or fighting for human rights, he realized his purpose on earth went far beyond hitting a tennis ball. That to me is inspirational." – Mal Washington, 1996 Wimbledon finalist and former U.S. Olympic and Davis Cup Team member

"It's great his legacy continues after all these years. He was a wonderful humanitarian and sports icon who has had a tremendous influence. It's also wonderful to see the programs that bear his name still continue and remain successful. The ideals he promoted will hopefully live on for a long time." – Chanda Rubin, former U.S. Olympic and Fed Cup Team member
 
“Arthur always has been and will continue to be a mentor to me. Beyond the serve-and-volley game, Arthur taught me, through his example, how to be a humanitarian. I can only hope to fill half of his shoes. And I say that because he always impressed upon me to be more than a good tennis player but to be a good person.” – Zina Garrison, 1990 Wimbledon finalist and 1988 Olympic gold medalist

Ashe was the first African American to play Davis Cup for the United States.© Getty Images
"Arthur was special in every way - as a player, teammate, a reformer and, mostly, as a close friend. No one cared more deeply about others than Arthur. As he once said, ’I could never forgive myself if I elected to live without a humane purpose, without trying to help the poor and unfortunate, without realizing that perhaps life's purest joy comes with trying to help others. " – Donald Dell, Ashe’s U.S. Davis Cup Captain, agent and close friend

"I met Arthur when I was eight years old at a charity tennis event for Bjorn Borg's comeback. Arthur was a television commentator. He talked to me about school, not tennis. He told me that words would take me miles and miles and to continue to support my mother's goal to make education a priority. I remember squinting up at his face, and the sun was right behind him when he spoke to me. My mother said I told her he looked like an angel with a halo. He called our house a few times while I was growing up, and he always had time to ask about me. At the time of his death, I didn't really understand what a legend meant. Now, after miles and miles of words, I understand." – 1999 Wimbledon semifinalist Alexandra Stevenson

 
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