16 Inspiring Quotes From U.S. Open Tennis Legend Arthur Ashe

The words of the great athlete and activist continue to inspire.
16 Inspiring Quotes From U.S. Open Tennis Legend Arthur Ashe
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The incomparable Arthur Ashe is still -- nearly 30 years after his death -- an inspirational figure and role model who is remembered for living a life of quiet determination, composure and grace as both athlete and activist.

Ashe was the first African-American male tennis player to win the U.S. Open and Wimbledon singles titles. He remains the only black man to accomplish these feats. Ashe was also the first African-American man to earn the No. 1 ranking in the world and the first to earn induction into the Tennis Hall of Fame.

The native of Richmond, Va., enjoyed great success during his short life after overcoming heartache and racial barriers as a child. He lost his mother when he was six, but only a year later discovered tennis. He excelled at the game early on but didn’t play in his first integrated competition until he was 15. Ranked the 5th best junior player in the country as he neared the end of high school, Ashe was rewarded for all his hard work with a full scholarship to UCLA.

Related: How Many Balls Do They Use at the US Open? 14 Amazing Facts

Ashe suffered a heart attack in July of 1979 at the age of 36. He retired from tennis soon after only to devote his life to causes that were important to him. In turn, he hoped his efforts would motivate others. He pushed to create inner-city tennis and academics programs for young people, served as the National Honorary Chairperson for the American Heart Association and spoke out against apartheid in South Africa. When he revealed to the world that he was suffering from AIDS after contracting HIV from a blood transfusion during heart surgery in 1983, he established the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS to provide treatment to AIDS patients and to promote AIDS research throughout the world.

He died from AIDS-related pneumonia on Feb. 6, 1993 at age 49.

Ashe’s unforgettable actions during his lifetime spoke to his integrity, his advocacy and his desire to be a champion. Equally memorable are his words, which still carry great motivational sway because he faced his challenges with a dogged determination and an indomitable spirit. Here are some of Ashe’s best motivational quotes to help keep you striving to reach your goals.

Arthur Ashe on success:

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.”

On building self-confidence:

 “One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”

On heroism:

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”

Related: How Maria Sharapova Built a Business Empire

On overcoming your fears:

“Fear isn't an excuse to come to a standstill. It's the impetus to step up and strike.”

On dealing with both success and failure:

“I take the good with the bad, and I try to face them both with as much calm and dignity as I can muster.”

On human connections:

“We must reach out our hand in friendship and dignity both to those who would befriend us and those who would be our enemy.”

On going for it:

“You’ve got to get to the stage in life where going for it is more important than winning or losing.”

On staying focused:

“A wise person decides slowly but abides by these decisions.”

On achieving something meaningful:

“I have tried to keep on with my striving because this is the only hope I have of ever achieving anything worthwhile and lasting.”

Related: How Venus Williams Is Serving Up Her Entrepreneurial Dreams

On attitude:

“The ideal attitude is to be physically loose and mentally tight.”

On giving:

“From what we get, we can make a living. What we give, however, makes a life.”

On competing:

“You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy.”

On inner drive:

“I have tried to keep on with my striving because this is the only hope I have of ever achieving anything worthwhile and lasting.”

On confronting racism:

“Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can.” 

On dealing with the fear of losing:

“Every time you win, it diminishes the fear a little bit. You never really cancel the fear of losing; you keep challenging it.”

On being yourself:

“I have always tried to be true to myself, to pick those battles I felt were important. My ultimate responsibility is to myself. I could never be anything else.”

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