Richmond Boulevard Renamed For Arthur Ashe

Arthur Robert Ashe Jr., a native Richmonder, who has been immortalized as a statue on Monument Avenue will further be remembered in Richmond. After an 8-0-1 City Council vote, previously named Boulevard will now be Arthur Ashe Boulevard on maps. The famous tennis philanthropist is a large influence on the RVA community.

Ashe was born in Richmond on July 10, 1943. At the time, Richmond was still segregated and he began his tennis career on a separate court. Ashe graduated high school at the top of his class and received a full scholarship to UCLA. His first significant tennis breakthrough was in 1963 when Ashe became the first African-American member of a U.S. Davis Cup Team. Not even two years later in 1965, he won the NCAA individual tennis championship and ultimately helped UCLA win in the team's championship. His road to fame didn't stop there.

In 1968, he became the first African-American man to win a Grand Slam event in the U.S. Open. Only two years later he won the Australian Open and after that, he claimed gold at Wimbledon. He was the first African-American millionaire tennis player. After retiring from the sport in 1980, he was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985. His legacy is remembered in Richmond pop-culture with many murals and buildings after his honor. The Arthur Ashe Jr. Athletic Center in Richmond hosts local sporting events and teams.

In 1993, 13 years after retiring from tennis, Ashe died due to complications with AIDS. A year after his death, the city of Richmond planned a memorial for him and the initial suggestion being to rename Boulevard to Arthur Ashe Boulevard. After much deliberation, a previous idea of a statue was revisited and eventually actualized. The statue was erected in 1996 and remains there to this day.

In a way of fulfilling the 1994 wish of naming Boulevard, this new change should bring joy to all of those whose lives were changed by this man.