Arthur Ashe – Winner of the First U.S. Open

Arthur Ashe pic
Arthur Ashe
Image: biography.com

Daniel Hewes earned a BA in urban studies at Northeastern University and an MS in urban planning from Columbia University. Beyond his professional interests, Daniel Hewes enjoys staying active through tennis, which he began playing as a youth and continued competitively through college. He annually attends the U.S. Open in late August.

The initial U.S. Open was held in 1968 as one of the first major tournaments in the open era of tennis, which allowed both amateurs and professional athletes to compete for the sport’s most prestigious titles. Though some believed the professional players would dominate the competition, the inaugural U.S. Open was won by a 25-year-old amateur, Arthur Ashe, a lieutenant in the United States Army.

In defeating the Netherland’s Tom Okker 14-12, 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, Ashe became the first African American to win a men’s singles title at the major level. As an amateur, however, he was forced to relinquish the $14,000 prize check and only received a $20 per diem. Ashe would reach the U.S. Open final once more in 1972, but won his second and third major titles in 1970 at the Australian Open and in 1975 at Wimbledon.