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Ashe defeats Connors in historic Wimbledon final

Ashe defeats Connors in historic Wimbledon final

On this day in 1975, Arthur Ashe became the first Black man to win the men’s singles title at Wimbledon, beating Jimmy Connors in a stunning upset.

Ashe, who was ranked No. 6 in the world at the time, defeated the top-seeded Connors 6-1, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 in front of a packed crowd at the All England Club.

It was the first all-American final since 1947, when Jack Kramer beat Tom Brown.

Ashe, who had lost to Connors in their previous three meetings, used a clever strategy of slicing and chipping the ball to keep his opponent off balance and prevent him from unleashing his powerful groundstrokes.

Connors, who had won three of the four Grand Slam titles in 1974, was the overwhelming favorite to win his second Wimbledon crown. He had also sued Ashe for $5 million earlier that year, accusing him of libel and restraint of trade for his role in the creation of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).

Ashe, who was also the president of the ATP, had led a boycott of Wimbledon in 1973 to protest against the exclusion of Nikola Pilic, a Yugoslav player who had been suspended by his national federation.

The lawsuit added more tension to the already heated rivalry between Ashe and Connors, who represented different styles and values of tennis.

Ashe was a graceful and elegant player who advocated for social justice and racial equality. Connors was a brash and aggressive player who challenged the establishment and flaunted his wealth.

After winning the match point, Ashe raised his arms in triumph and walked to the net to shake hands with Connors. He then received a standing ovation from the crowd, which included his wife Jeanne and his parents.

Ashe became the first Black man to win Wimbledon, following in the footsteps of Althea Gibson, who had won the women’s singles title in 1957 and 1958.

He also became only the second man to win Wimbledon as an amateur and as a professional, after Rod Laver.

Ashe would go on to win three Grand Slam titles in his career, along with four Davis Cup titles as a player and a captain for the United States.

He died in 1993 at the age of 49 from complications related to AIDS, which he had contracted from a blood transfusion during a heart surgery.

He is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential tennis players of all time, as well as a humanitarian and a civil rights activist.

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