Winning a championship at Wimbledon is the most coveted win for tennis players. In 1975 tennis star Arthur Ashe became the first African American athlete to win it. After the match, Ashe said in an interview:
“I always thought I would win because I was playing so well and was so confident.” (source)
Though he broke barriers with his Wimbledon championship, Ashe was known for a lot of other things, including protesting against the Bush administration for the rights of Haitian refugees and raising awareness of HIV and AIDS, which he suffered from.
Ashe’s Battle With AIDS
During heart bypass surgery in 1983, Ashe received a blood transfusion that carried the HIV virus. He wasn’t diagnosed until 1988 but chose to keep his condition under wraps. It wasn’t until 1992 that he went public and immediately began raising awareness of the deadly disease.
Toward the end of his life, Ashe became a face for the fight against HIV. He organized a philanthropic effort that raised $5 million for fighting AIDS. He could be seen on billboards and advertisements offering courage to those who suffered as he did.
“The foundation was something I always knew I wanted to do, long before I went public on April 8,” Ashe said.
Ashe passed away on February 6, 1993 from AIDS-related pneumonia. (source)
Though he was known for his struggle with AIDS, Ashe’s legacy rests with his natural talent and tennis skills. You don’t just start off a career by winning Wimbledon. Ashe came up the ranks like everyone else in sports. He began playing tennis as a seven-year-old. In 1958 he reached the semi-finals of the national juniors championship. His skills impressed scouters and he won a full-ride scholarship to UCLA in 1962. In 1968, he became the first African American to win a grand slam. And in 1970 he won the Australian Open.
Countless more accolades came to Ashe throughout his lifetime. He’s an all-time great athlete who we still remember today. But he’s also an all-time great man that suffered from a deadly disease that still impacts many. He never cowered and was an inspiration to the end.
Ashe’s story goes to show that nobody is immune to contracting HIV. A rapid HIV test can determine if you carry the virus and results are ready within 20 minutes or less. New treatment is available to prolong life, prevent HIV from progressing into AIDS and stopping the spread of the HIV virus. To be tested for HIV, find the nearest ARCpoint Labs to you.