Arthur Ashe – Tennis Legend….Activist….Man of True Greatness

“To achieve greatness, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”

These were the words of tennis legend Arthur Ashe, whose life was a prime example of such greatness. Arthur was an incredibly gifted tennis player – he made great strides as he won one national and world championship after another, often the first African-American to do so. But over and above his tennis success, Arthur also made a lasting impact through his work as a social activist.

As a competitor in a sport that was dominated by caucasians at the time, Arthur felt firsthand some of the injustices suffered by African-Americans during this period. And so he worked hard to raise awareness and fight against these injustices. In addition, health setbacks Arthur suffered became the focus of more activism on his part, as he worked to raise awareness about AIDS and help those inflicted by it. Today, the legacy of Arthur Ashe reaches far beyond his tennis achievements……he is remembered as a man of true greatness who helped change the world for the better.

This video shows Arthur in action as he won Wimbledon in 1975.

Additional Resources:

  • Here is the official website for Arthur Ashe, where you can learn all about this inspirational man.
  • Here is another website devoted to Arthur Ashe and his legacy.

Topics for Discussion:

  • Why was Arthur not content to simply bask in his tennis success?
  • Arthur took issues that affected him and worked to make them better. Is there an issue affecting your life that you could work to make better?

Take Action:

  • Arthur Ashe’s quote about greatness says to “start where you are, use what you have, do what you can”. What can you do today to put his words into action on your own path to greatness?
  • Visit the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health website to learn more about this great organization and how you can support it!

Teacher Features:

  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.


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