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Bibliophile price: £7.00
Arthur Ashe was a Wimbledon champion and human rights activist whose mid-life death from AIDS, contracted through a blood transfusion, was a loss to sport and to public life. This big biography does full justice to the subject, often admiring, but sometimes revealing Ashe's weaknesses as well. Born in Richmond, Virginia, to the descendants of slaves, Ashe was legally consigned to second-class citizenship, but from the age of 6 tennis was an outlet. At a young players' tournament in Washington, DC in 1955, a 15-year-old girl was without an opponent and the 11-year-old Ashe stepped in. To the astonishment of the spectators, he needed less than an hour to win the match. His tennis got him to UCLA, and as he gained trophies as a sportsman, Ashe developed the confidence to date white girls. Money was a problem, but following an exhibition match a well-dressed white woman asked him how much he needed to get to Wimbledon. She went straight to the card room, persuaded eight gamblers to fork out 100 dollars, and Ashe was on his way. Finally in 1975 he reached the Wimbledon final against Jimmy Connors, who had filed a lawsuit against Ashe for describing him as "brash, arrogant and unpatriotic", so there was no love lost. The odds were hugely in Connors's favour, a big hitter at the top of his game. Ashe was a big hitter too, but this time he went for a chip-and-lob game down the centre, targeting Connors's weak point. It paid off, and Ashe raised a Black Power salute in victory. In later years as captain of the Davis Cup team Ashe was able to exert an influence over racial politics. His final illness he kept secret but when his condition was known, honours poured in. 767pp, statistics, black and white photos. Remainder mark.

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