The Australian Open starts today at Melbourne Park. 53 years ago, Richmonder Arthur Ashe became the first Black man to win the singles title at the Australian Open — two years after accomplishing the same feat at the US Open.
As a child, Ashe developed his talent for tennis at Brook Field playground, where his father was supervisor. Virginia Union student Ronald Charity became his coach and connected him with the American Tennis Association in 1953. He started working his way up amateur rankings, facing difficulties due to racial segregation at competitions.
Decades later, Ashe was winning bigger titles, including a singles victory at Wimbledon in 1975. He won a men’s doubles title at the Australian Open with partner Tony Roche in 1977.
Bonus: Get an insight on Ashe’s strategic mind in this 1980 segment from “The Dick Cavett Show.”