Ashe is born in segregated Richmond, Va., to Arthur Ashe, Sr. and Mary Cordell Cunningham Ashe. Their father raises Ashe, and his younger brother Johnnie, after Mary Ashe dies in 1950.
At the age of 16, Ashe makes his debut at the U.S. National Championships at Forest Hills (later known as the US Open). He is defeated in the first round by Australian Rod Laver.
Ashe makes his debut on the U.S. Davis Cup team. Ashe goes on to play Davis Cup for the USA in 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1975, 1977 and 1978 and compiles a 28-6 record (27-5 in singles.) Ashe plays an integral part in helping the United States win the Davis Cup in 1968, 1969 and 1970.
Ashe wins the NCAA singles crown as a junior at UCLA, becoming the first African-American to win that prestigious tennis title. Ashe graduates from UCLA in 1966.
Ashe wins the first US "Open" - the first time that the US National Tennis Championships were open to both professionals and amateurs. Ashe, a 25-year-old lieutenant in the U.S. Army, was an amateur and thus isn't eligible to receive the $14,000 first prize. Instead, the Richmond, Va., resident collects $280 in expenses, at $20 per diem for 14 days. Ashe becomes the first African-American man to win a Grand Slam men's singles title. The New York Times calls Ashe's victory "the most notable achievement made in the sport by a Negro male athlete."
Arthur Ashe, along with Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder, found the National Junior Tennis League, a tennis program designed to provide tennis opportunities to economically disadvantaged youngsters. In 2002, the program features nearly 200,000 children and in over 900 programs nationwide. The program served as the first organized tennis program that Venus and Serena Williams participated in.
Ashe wins the Australian Open men's singles title - his second career Grand Slam singles title - defeating Dick Crealy in the final.
After being turned down for a visa three previous times, Ashe travels to South Africa for the first time and becomes the first black man to compete in the South African Open, winning the doubles title with Tom Okker. South African poet Don Mattera told Ashe, "You have shown our black youth that they can compete with whites and win." The Black South Africans gave Ashe a nickname during his trip to South Africa - "Sipho," which means "a gift from God" in Zulu.
Ashe stages one of the greatest upsets in tennis history, defeating No. 1 seed Jimmy Connors to win the men's singles title at Wimbledon - becoming the first black man to win the prestigious singles title. Wrote Richard Evans of Ashe's victory in World Tennis, "It was a destiny richly deserved, a triumph that spread happiness and satisfaction throughout the world of tennis because it had turned a good man into a great champion."
While still on crutches following heel surgery, Ashe marries Jeanne Moutoussamy at the United Nations Chapel in New York, with Andrew Young, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, performing the ceremony.
Ashe plays in his final US Open, reaching the round of 16 before losing to Raul Ramirez. More importantly and symbolically, Ashe pairs in doubles with an 18-year-old Frenchman of African-descent named Yannick Noah. Seven years earlier, Ashe discovered Noah while visiting Cameroon and calls the French Tennis Federation President Philippe Chatrier to help in Noah's development. Noah goes on to become the most successful black tennis player since Ashe by winning the French Open singles title in 1983.
Ashe suffers a heart attack that ultimately forces him to retire from professional tennis. Ashe concludes his career with 33 singles titles in 65 singles finals. He also won 18 doubles titles in 46 doubles finals. His highest career ranking was No. 2 in the world in 1976.
Ashe takes on the reigns as captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team and leads the United States to Davis Cup victories in 1981 and 1982. He coaches the U.S. team until 1985.
Ashe becomes a board member for Aetna Life and Casualty Company, where he represented minority concerns, the causes of the sick, and better health care for American citizens.
Ashe suffers a second attack, and, after heart-surgery, becomes the national campaign chairman for the American Heart Association.
Ashe is inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. He is also arrested while protesting against apartheid in front of the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Ashe publishes Hard Road To Glory: A History of the African American Athlete, a book that is regarded as the authority on the history of African-American athletes. Ashe also starts the Safe Passage Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Newark, N.J., that provides "safe passage" for youngsters into adult life. After brain surgery that year, Ashe also discovers that he is HIV-positive, having likely been infected during either his 1979 or 1983 heart surgeries.
Ashe founds the Athlete Career Connection, an association to assist athletes after they finished college.
On the eve of the US Open, the United States Tennis Association holds the first-ever Arthur Ashe AIDS Day, an event that Ashe described in his book Days of Grace as "one of the brightest days, literally and metaphorically, of my life." The event, a fund-raiser for the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS, becomes an annual tradition at the US Open and has grown into what is now called "Arthur Ashe Kids' Day." Later in the year, Ashe is arrested outside of the White House protesting the treatment of Haitian refugees and is named by Sports Illustrated as its "Sportsman of the Year." Also during the year, Ashe addresses the UN General Assembly, urging increased funding for AIDS research, and starts the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, an organization that brings programs to the inner city to educate and promote better health care.
Ashe dies of AIDS-related pneumonia at the age of 49.
The city of Richmond erects The Arthur Ashe Monument on Monument Avenue, surrounded, ironically, by the city's heroes of the Confederacy. The statue features Ashe holding tennis racquets and books over his head, with the books raised slightly higher than the racquets symbolizing Ashe's emphasis on education.
The United States Tennis Association dedicates "Arthur Ashe Stadium" - the main stadium for the US Open Tennis Championships and the largest tennis stadium in the world.
The United States Tennis Association dedicates the Arthur Ashe Commemorative Garden at the USTA National Tennis Center. The garden features the statue, "Soul in Flight," as well as an engraving of Ashe's quote, "From what we get, we make a living; what we give, however, makes a life."
Former President Bill Clinton, who who met Arthur Ashe in 1992 and posthumously awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, inducted the legend into the US Open Court of Champions at the 2009 US Open.