Arthur Ashe Commemorative Stamp Unveiled at U.S. Open
Arthur Ashe, humanitarian and world-class tennis star, will be immortalized on a commemorative postage stamp to be issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 2005.
The announcement came last month during the unveiling of the stamp image as part of the Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess, which kicks off the 2004 U.S. Open. The ceremonies took place in the stadium bearing the tennis legend’s name. Ashe’s image, a photo by Michael O’Neill used on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine naming Ashe 1992 Sportsman of the Year, is the first Sports Illustrated cover photo ever featured on a postage stamp.
“Arthur Ashe was a man who was unafraid to redefine the boundaries of his world,” said Henry A. Pankey, vice president, emergency preparedness, U.S. Postal Service, at the unveiling. “Through his efforts — on and off the court — he pushed us all to make the world a better place.”
As the first African American man to win Grand Slam tennis tournaments — Wimbledon, and the U.S. and Australian Opens — Ashe followed his on-court accomplishments with a lifetime of activity devoted to humanitarian efforts.
His commitment to social issues led him to establish foundations that help disenfranchised youth, and support the fight against AIDS, which he had contracted from a blood transfusion during heart surgery. Ashe also organized efforts to oppose South Africa’s apartheid rule, which ended in 1994. Before succumbing to AIDS-related pneumonia in 1993, Ashe spoke before the United Nations General Assembly and urged nations to increase their efforts and funding in the war against AIDS.
A heart attack and ongoing heart problems forced him to retire from competition in 1980, but not from tennis. As the first African American to captain the Davis Cup team, Ashe led the team to win the cup in 1981 and 1982.
He died Feb. 6, 1993, and is survived by his wife, photographer Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, and their daughter, Camera, now 17 years old.
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