“Arthur Ashe was a Wimbledon champion, of course, and he ended up coaching the United States Davis Cup Team,” Frontenac Racquet Club Manager Terry Ward said. “When Ashe was growing up, segregation was still a major issue. And St. Louis was one of the locations where he was accepted, to whatever degree, and encouraged to play tennis.”
Ashe moved to St. Louis to work under renowned tennis coach Richard Hudlin.
“Arthur made his footprint in tennis. And allowed other African-Americans to come into the sport,” said Richmond Heights resident Marylynn Simms.
Marylynn and her husband, George, live in the home where Ashe lived and trained with Hudlin. Outside the home is a plot of grass at the site of what used to be a clay tennis court.
“He was here from ’60 to ’61. He received tennis training from Mr. Hudlin,” Simms said.
A memorial will soon be established on one side of the land. The details have yet to be finalized, but city leaders in Richmond Heights have signed off on a tribute to the tennis great.
The Simms said they are pleased to see the tennis legend and his coach honored. Many people are aware Ashe graduated from Sumner High School, Marylynn said, but they are not aware of his connection to Richmond Heights.
“Because so many people who are not originally from the neighborhood are not aware of that,” she said. “And the original homeowners are slowly dying off. He is definitely a legend. Here and worldwide.”