Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Arthur Ashe was 10 years older than Jimmy Connors when he defeated him to become the first black men's champion at Wimbledon in 1975. He retired from competition in 1980, and in 1987 wrote "A Hard Road to Glory,, a history of black athletes in America. His untimely death in 1993 of pneumonia brought on by the AIDS virus was attributed to a blood transfusion. His triumphal picture from Wimbledon was featured on the front page, while the story ran in the Sports section. An excerpt from The Post of July 6, 1975:
By Barry Lorge
Special to the Washington Post
WIMBLEDON, England, July 5 --
Arthur Ashe, fulfilling a dream he has chased for 13 years, won the men's singles title of the Wimbledon tennis championships today by outthinking and outstroking Jimmy Connors, the heavily favored defending champion, 6-1, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4.
The Richmond, Va. native, five days short of his 32nd birthday, is the first black to win the men's title here. Althea Gibson won the women's singles in 1957-58.
Ashe used an imaginative and brilliantly executed attack to dethrone the 22-year-old champ who had devastated six opponents without losing a set en route to the final.
The emotion-charged match -- containing far more superb tennis than most major tournament finals, which often are nervous affairs -- electrified the 14,000 spectators for 2 hours 5 minutes.
At the end, the cool, usually undemonstrative Ashe turned and raised his fist in a triumphant salute to his friends in the competitors' guest box.
"That was for the friends who have stuck with me," said Ashe, who is president of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). "It was for Donald Bell and Jack Kramer and Bob Briner and the whole ATP board."
Both players said today a Connors libel suit against Ashe had no effect on the match, but it added a dimension of drama unprecedented in Wimbledon's 98-year-history. This was clearly a grudge match.
When it was over, Ashe and Connors shook hands coolly and said nothing to each other. They walked off court within a few feet of each other, but not together.
The victory was Ashe's third in singles in the "Big Four" championships that make up the traditional grand slam of tennis. He won the U.S. Open in 1968 and the Australian Open in 1970. . . .
"My greatest moment in tennis was winning the Davis Cup for the United States in 1968," he said. "That thrilled me to bits and will always be No. 1 for me. I rate Wimbledon on a par with Forest Hills, simply because I'm an American and you love to win your own national title. This and Forest Hills in '68 are my second greatest thrills." . . .
Usually a slasher who attacks every shot in a hit-or-miss assault, Ashe today played a controlled, temperate game. He mixed an assortment of junk -- chips, lobs, dinks and off-pace shots of all varieties -- with his powerful serves, volleys and overhead smashes. He was a killer with patience, opening up the court for his slashing shots instead of trying to make them earlier against bad odds. . . .
His volleying was perhaps the sharpest it has ever been for a whole match. Usually his forehand volley lets him down, but today it was firm and reliable, partly because Connors kept hitting screamers instead of the low, dipping shots that give Ashe the most trouble.
"All I have to do when he gives me that much pace," Ashe said, "is meet the ball."
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