SA sport features
Ashe's Soweto dream revived
Ashe's challengeAshe, a former world number one the first black man to win the US Open and Wimbledon, was a spirited anti-apartheid protester. In 1970, when Ashe was the top-ranked American in the game, he applied to play in the South African Open, which was at that time a prestigious event, regarded just below the level of a Grand Slam tournament. Ashe knew his chances of being granted a visa were slim, given South Africa's apartheid policies at the time, and he was right - his application was turned down. Ashe responded by calling for South Africa's explusion from the International Lawn Tennis Federation and the Davis Cup. He immediately received plenty of support, successfully drawing the world's attention to the iniquity of South Africa's former political system. His actions also lent weight to a number of other sporting codes imposing sanctions against South Africa.
Ashe in South AfricaIn 1973, Ashe was finally awarded a visa and made it to South Africa, becoming the first black man to contest the South African Open. His fight against apartheid didn't end with his admittance to the country, however. In 1985, with his playing career already over, he was arrested while taking part in an anti-apartheid protest outside the South African embassy in Washington. And in 1991 he was part of a 31-member delegation of prominent African-Americans who visited South Africa to observe political changes in the country as it moved inexorably towards becoming a democracy. Sadly, he never saw that day come to pass, as he died from Aids in 1993. He had contracted the disease from a blood transfusion during bypass surgery 10 years earlier. SAinfo reporter and City of Johannesburg
Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material