LOS ANGELES: Trophies and treasures belonging to black tennis icon Arthur Ashe, including the passport he used to enter apartheid-era South Africa, sold at auction Wednesday on the 20th anniversary of his death.
Other items which went under the hammer included Ashe’s personal diaries from 1972-1993, handwritten copies of his speeches on black athleticism, civil rights and AIDS, and personal items including Davis Cup jackets. His passport, including a visa “issued for the purpose of participating in the S.A. tennis tournament 16-25 Nov. 1973,” went under the hammer for $4,153 at the sale held by Nate D. Sanders Auctions.
Among the highest prices fetched were $21,013 for his 1971 Wimbledon Men’s Double runner-up medal, and $13,045 for his jacket from the 1962 US Junior Davis Cup.
His death certificate went for $4,652, according to the auctioneer’s website. His wisdom teeth were included in items announced for sale before the auction, but there was no immediate sign of them having been sold Wednesday.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale will benefit the Arthur Ashe Learning Center, a non-profit group that promotes Ashe’s legacy of scholarship, sports, health and service.
Ashe was the first black man to win at the US Open, doing so in 1968, and at Wimbledon, taking that title in 1975. As a tennis pioneer he tore down barriers in sport and civil rights.
“Arthur Ashe’s life and career is really about the highest highs and lowest lows,” Sanders said ahead of the auction.
“As the first African-American to win the men’s singles at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open, he rose to the very pinnacle of success in tennis and, in the process, willingly became ambassador to the next generation of black athletes.
“Ashe’s career was shortened by heart disease and he contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion after heart surgery. This was just before the medical community began checking the blood supply. But, never defeated by his health challenges, Ashe continued his impassioned social advocacy and scholarly pursuits right up until his death.”