Ashe becomes first black man to win Wimbledon - HISTORY
Year
1975

Ashe becomes first black man to win Wimbledon

On this day in 1975, Arthur Ashe defeats the heavily favored Jimmy Connors to become the first black man ever to win Wimbledon, the most coveted championship in tennis.

Arthur Ashe began playing tennis as a boy in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. After winning a tennis scholarship to UCLA, Ashe was taken under the wing of tennis star Pancho Gonzales, who recognized the young player’s potential. In 1968, Ashe became the first black man to win the U.S. Open. Two years later, he captured the Australian Open for his second Grand Slam title. Over the next seven years, Ashe won his share of tournaments, but no more majors, and, frustrated, he set his sights on victory at Wimbledon, one of the most celebrated championships in tennis.

Arthur Ashe was 31 years old in 1975, and seemingly well past his prime, so his advancement to the 1975 Wimbledon finals came as somewhat of a surprise to the tennis establishment. While Ashe’s best finishes at Wimbledon had been losses in the semi-finals in 1968 and 1969, his opponent, the brash 22-year-old Jimmy Connors, was the defending Wimbledon champion. In their three previous meetings, Connors had handled Ashe easily. Furthermore, Connors was coming off an impressive semi-final win against Roscoe Tanner, whose intimidating serve observers called the hardest hitting ever at Wimbledon.

Though many thought he didn’t have a chance, Ashe formulated a game plan for the match: hit nothing hard. He planned to serve strongly and then give Connors nothing but “junk” as Ashe himself described it. Connors won the first game of the first set, but then dropped the rest of the set in just 20 minutes, 6-1. Although Connors won just one game off Ashe in the second set, he took the third set 7-5. His confidence restored, Connors strutted around the court, while Ashe closed his eyes between sets, concentrating on the moment at hand. Finally, with the shocked crowd cheering him on, Ashe finished Connors off in the fourth set, 6-4.

Ashe retired from competitive tennis in 1980 after suffering a heart attack. For his career, he won 51 tournaments. In retirement, Ashe wrote the three-volume book A Hard Road to Glory, first published in 1988, which detailed the struggle of black athletes in America. In 1983, after double-bypass surgery, Ashe was infected with HIV during a blood transfusion. After revealing his disease to the world in 1992, he set about educating the public about HIV and AIDS. He died of AIDS-related complications on February 6, 1993. In 1997, the U.S. Open’s new home court was named Arthur Ashe Stadium.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

First U.S. fatality in the Korean War

Near Sojong, South Korea, Private Kenneth Shadrick, a 19-year-old infantryman from Skin Fork, West Virginia, becomes the first American reported killed in the Korean War. Shadrick, a member of a bazooka squad, had just fired the weapon at a Soviet-made tank when he looked up to ...read more

Bikini introduced

On July 5, 1946, French designer Louis Reard unveils a daring two-piece swimsuit at the Piscine Molitor, a popular swimming pool in Paris. Parisian showgirl Micheline Bernardini modeled the new fashion, which Reard dubbed “bikini,” inspired by a news-making U.S. atomic test that ...read more

Salvation Army founded

In the East End of London, revivalist preacher William Booth and his wife Catherine establish the Christian Mission, later known as the Salvation Army. Determined to wage war against the evils of poverty and religious indifference with military efficiency, Booth modeled his ...read more

First successful cloning of a mammal

On this day in 1996, Dolly the sheep–the first mammal to have been successfully cloned from an adult cell–is born at the Roslin Institute in Scotland.Originally code-named “6LL3,” the cloned lamb was named after the buxom singer and actress Dolly Parton. The name was reportedly ...read more

Bill Doolin escapes from jail

The famous outlaw Bill Doolin escapes from an Oklahoma jail after only a few months of captivity.Like many outlaws, William Doolin only gradually fell into a life of crime. Born in Arkansas in 1858, the tall and slim Doolin went west at the age of 23. He found work as a cowboy on ...read more

George Bernard Shaw quits his job

On this day, George Bernard Shaw, 23, quits his job at the Edison Telephone Company in order to write.Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland, and left school at the age of 14 to work in a land agent’s office. In 1876, he quit and moved to London, where his mother, a music teacher, had ...read more

Edie Falco born

On this day in 1963, the actress Edie Falco, best known for her role as mob wife Carmela Soprano on the hit television drama The Sopranos, is born in Brooklyn, New York.The Sopranos, proclaimed by some critics to be the greatest TV series of all time, debuted on HBO in January ...read more

Pilot error causes crash in Toronto

An Air Canada DC-8 crashes while landing in Toronto, killing 108 people on this day in 1970. The crash was caused by poor landing procedures and inadvertent pilot error. The terrible accident came less than two days after another jet crash had killed more than 100 people in ...read more

Sox accused of throwing World Series

After Judge Hugo Friend denies a motion to quash the indictments against the major league baseball players accused of throwing the 1919 World Series, a trial begins with jury selection. The Chicago White Sox players, including stars Shoeless Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, and Eddie ...read more

United States passes Export Control Act

On this day in 1940, Congress passes the Export Control Act, forbidding the exporting of aircraft parts, chemicals, and minerals without a license. This prohibition was a reaction to Japan’s occupation of parts of the Indo-Chinese coast.Now that the Germans occupied a large swath ...read more