# 2 – Arthur Ashe – “Do what you can”
Born in a tennis world that was dominated by Caucasians and Whites, the struggles that Arthur Ashe had to face even to enter the tennis arena were difficult. But that didn’t stop him. Ashe often said, “To achieve greatness, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”
And that is what he did. His journey started from Richmond, Virginia and never ended.
Ashe started playing tennis because his father wouldn’t allow him to play football. He lost his mother when he was 8. He is till date, the only black man to have won a singles Grand Slam title at the Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open.
In 1979, Ashe retired from professional tennis due to a heart attack. He underwent surgeries in 1979 and 1983. Later, in 1988, it was reported that Arthur Ashe was HIV positive due to a wrongful blood transfusion that had taken place during his second heart surgery in 1983.
Ashe went public with his story. At that time, people were not much aware about HIV and AIDS. The people who suffered with the disease were discriminated against. Ashe went on a mission. He educated people regarding safe sex and founded the Arthur Ashe foundation for the defeat of AIDS. Sports Illustrated named him the Sportsman of the Year even though he didn’t participate in a single match.
In February 1993, Arthur Ashe died. When the world knew that he was HIV positive, a young child had sent Ashe a letter asking “Why did God choose you for this disease?”, Ashe replied:
“There are 50 million kids who start playing tennis. Only 5 million learn to play tennis. Out of that, only 500,000 learn tennis professionally. Among them, 50,000 are ready to join the tournaments. Then there are 5000 tennis player who make it into the Grand Slam tournament. There are 50 tennis players who join the Wimbledon tournament. Then only 4 make it to the semifinals. Then 2 make it to the final. When I held the trophy with my hands, I did not ask God, “why me.” Today when I am ill, I will not ask God, “why me?”
# 1 – Esther Vergeer, The girl who can’t lose
If you don’t know who Esther Vergeer is, then it is most unfortunate. She is a wheelchair tennis player who according to many, is the most dominant professional sports star that the world has seen.
Vergeer retired in 2013. Prior to that, she had achieved 148 career titles, 21 singles and 23 doubles Grand Slams, 4 singles and 3 doubles Paralympic Gold medals.
From 2003 till retiring in 2013, Esther didn’t lose a single game. Not even one bad day. How do you explain these? In these ten years, she had won 120 consecutive tournaments that amounted to 470 consecutive matches. Over the course of all these matches, she had lost only 18 sets and was pushed to a match point only once.
Despite all these, we judge her because she is in a wheelchair. Esther calmly says, “People judge me based on the fact I’m in a wheelchair. Probably 70 percent of the people have that opinion. It’s our job to let people know. You’re obviously open to it.’’
So, if Hollywood can’t make a movie about the most dominant professional sports player in the history of the world, I don’t know what can it do.