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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Arthur Ashe, 49, dies of pneumonia
By Larry Schwartz
Special to

Feb. 6, 1993

Arthur Ashe, the first African-American to win the U.S. Open (1968), Australian Open (1970) and Wimbledon (1975), dies of pneumonia, a complication of AIDS, at New York Hospital in Manhattan.

Ashe, who said he believed he contracted HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, through a transfusion of tainted blood during heart bypass surgery in 1983, first learned of his infection after undergoing emergency brain surgery in 1988. Ashe didn't reveal his illness to the public until April 1992, when he learned that news articles were being prepared about his condition.

A serious and thoughtful man, he was among the first African-American athletes to urge other blacks in sports to use their success to promote civil rights at home and abroad. After retiring from tennis, he spent the rest of his life as a scholar and activist, using his fame in sports as a platform to address inequities in society.

"He was one of the best men of his generation," said Magic Johnson, also infected with the virus that causes AIDS, "and his loss is a loss for all of us."

Arthur Ashe was 49.

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