“Despite her fame, she couldn’t earn a living in the rarefied world of amateur tennis. Unable to secure steady sponsorship or lucrative endorsements, she turned professional in the late 1958, immediately reducing her public profile to an appendage of the men’s pro tour. By 1963 she had quit tennis altogether, turning to professional golf for her economic salvation.” -p.47 about Althea Gibson.
“Gibson’s bittersweet saga eventually became a cautionary tale for Ashe and other African Americans looking for tennis for economic opportunity and personal fulfillment.” p.48
“It made it easier for other blacks to follow.”
“Despite his disappointment following the Lynch match, Arthur left Clifton Park with a new understanding of the tennis world. The entire scene made a deep impression on him-especially the behavior and class background of the white players and their aggressive, hovering parents.”
“He had come a long way. Now he had a clearer vision of where he was headed; and he was beginning to realize how hard he would have to work to get there. Most important, he had earned the respect of Dr. Johnson, who had begun to treat him as a rising star.” (p.49)
“There were several young black players, in Lynchburg and elsewhere who may have had more raw talent than Arthur. But with Dr. Johnson’s help, he had turned himself into a paragon of emotional and physical control. Moreover, no one on the ATA circuit could match his determination and focus.” (p.50)
“But he left Miami with a much better sense of what to expect from the world’s best young players.” (p.55)
“To Johnson’s amazement, Arthur and the other boys were also invited to use the university’s dining facilities, and even to take in a movie at the campus theater.” (p.57)
“The legally codified hegemony of white supremacist values was still very much in evidence everywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line. ” (p.57)
” But he couldn’t avoid the feeling he was out of place and not altogether welcome at Forest Hills. The atmosphere of white privilege had been palpable at the Berkley TEnnis Club, but it was doubly so at the West Side Tennis Club.” (p.58)
“In the tennis world, even in times of crisis, racial discrimination tended to be subtler than in the world at large. As Arthur once put it, most tennis players were “too well mannered to express racism crudely.” No one ever refused to appear on court with me,” he called. No official ever called me a name. But the indirect rebuffs and innuendoes left their scars. (p.63)
“While he acknowledged that he was “as noticeable as the only raisin in a rice pudding,” the curiosity factor was a burdensome diversion for a serious athlete trying to keep his eyes, literally and figuratively, on the ball.” (p.65)
“Looking back on the situation years later, Arthur concluded that the improvement in his game more than compensated for the social sacrifices and loneliness he experienced. ” (p.70)
Raymond Arsenault does a great job describing how it was like growing up in that era. The crazy thing is it wasn’t that long ago. It really helps me understand what I take for granted growing up in Cherry Hill, NJ. I did not experience systematic racism to the same degree he has. It’s a great time to be alive!
Davidson Hang is currently in Sales at Cheetah Digital which is a Marketing technology company located in NYC.
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