Arthur Ashe hits a ball during a match (Allsport)
Arthur Ashe hits a ball during a match (Allsport)

July 5, 1975, is a noteworthy day in the annals of black sports. It was when Arthur Ashe became the first black man to win Wimbledon, according to Sports Mole, which reports that it was all the more incredible that the 31-year-old Ashe was up against 22-year-old Jimmy Connors, the title holder at the time.

… His last Slam victory had come five years prior at the Australian Open and no one had given him a chance on this day.

Why? He was up against a 22-year-old Jimmy Connors, the current holder of the title and a player who held three of the four majors. Many had said that he was unbeatable, that his power and speed would be too much for a player coming to the end of his career.

But no one had told Ashe. He knew that his best chance of victory was to play an unpredictable, tactical game and not allow Connors to settle. He slowed the game down on serve and in rallies and used the full court to the best of his ability. Suddenly he was two sets up, taking both 6-1.

In the third set it appeared as though Ashe's young compatriot had worked him out. He battled back with speed and big serving to take the third set 7-5 and there was a sense that the momentum was going Connors's way. If he went on to take the fourth set, few would have looked past him to retain his trophy.

However, Ashe had been through too much in his life already to let a minor setback such as this affect him. He had fought for fair winnings for tennis players and had taken on apartheid South Africa after he was denied entry to the 1972 South African Open.


Read more at Sports Mole.

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