Tennis pioneer Billy Davis is dead; looks after Arthur Ashe – Nach Welt

Before there was Arthur Ashe, there was Billy Davis. The soft-spoken man, who grew up in Harlem and moved to San Diego in 1996, became a tennis trailblazer in the shadows.

When he was told on a tournament-bound train that a black player had to ride in the last car, he asserted himself calmly but firmly. When he was confronted with racism with the female star Althea Gibson on tour in England, he refused to appreciate the hatred.

Congestive heart failure challenged the person who played at the US Open and Wimbledon on December 21 at the age of 91.

The posts speak far louder than the man himself.

“He basically opened the door so Arthur could go through,” said Davis’ wife, Pat. “Arthur felt that way too. In 23 years (marriage) we never had a fight. He wasn’t that person. People trying to mock him while he was playing blocked everything.

“It made it a little easier when Arthur got there.”

Davis was strolling through Harlem one day in 1940 before coincidence changed his résumé.

When the 10-year-old broke the corner of 149. reachedthat Street and Convent Avenues, two blocks west of what is now Jackie Robinson Park, a voice in a dark doorway sparked a lifelong tennis obsession.

A man asked Davis if he would like to become a ball boy for the national championship of the American Tennis Association, the country’s oldest black sports organization, founded in 1916.

Segregation forced black doctors, lawyers, and other professionals to create their own club called Cosmopolitan.

“For me it was ‘Alice in Wonderland,'” Davis once wrote. “… that day I fell in love with the world of tennis.”

The connection was instant and unbreakable.

“That’s where he found tennis,” said Pat Davis. “It became his life. I always laughed and said that tennis was his mistress. “

When Davis returned from his service in Korea with the Marines, he immersed himself in the game. He lacked the polishes and tool kit from Ashe, who became a lifelong friend. He won and won and won anyway.

Davis accumulated eleven national ATA titles over three decades.

“Bill wasn’t exactly a great athlete,” said Pat Davis. “He had a great mind. Most of the opponents he defeated were much stronger and hit the ball much harder. Bill addressed their weaknesses and took advantage of them.

“People laughed at his serve because he had a weak serve. But he still hit her. “

Davis, 13 years older than him, looked after Ashe on tennis street. The couple eventually starred in the same US Open, 1960 in Forest Hills, Queens, NY, Ashe fell in the second round of a tournament he would win in 1968.

On the way to this shared memory, the two met at an ATA tournament in Ohio.

The result still creates a smile.

“I met Arthur at that tournament in Ohio and later became his girlfriend,” said Pat Davis. “Billy hit him there. Even though Arthur was 15 or 16 years old, Billy always boasted, “Hey, I hit Arthur Ashe.”

“They became very good friends.”

Forty years later, Pat reunited with Billy after raising a family and her husband passing away.

“Billy was a handsome guy and the women threw themselves on him but he just wanted to play tennis,” she said. “He said he was probably selfish because he doesn’t have children. I said no, it would be selfish to have children if you knew that all you care about is tennis. “

All that time and passion was rewarded when Davis was voted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame.

Davis, a friend of the late New York City Mayor David Dinkins, was named the city’s parks commissioner after a career at IBM. He was lured to San Diego when his sister’s husband became a professor at San Diego State and her parents moved in the process.

The ability to play tennis all year round was also no small factor.

Davis became a member of the Balboa and Peninsula tennis clubs. The game continued to anchor his life even as he crossed the country to haunt it.

“It was the ideal situation for him,” said Pat Davis.

What if he hadn’t walked past the Cosmopolitan that day?

“Who knows,” said Pat Davis. “He would have been just another kid who grew up in Harlem. It changed the life of his brother (Bob), who also played tennis. It was a wonderful day. It changed everything. “

Unlike yawning, there is no tennis facility named after Davis Arthur-Ashe-Stadion, Location of the US Open in Flushing Meadows, NY. There is no Presidential Medal of Freedom, which Ashe was awarded posthumously in 1993.

Although a photo from Ashe to Davis is signed, “From Champion to Champion,” Davis took a calmer path.

Not all trailblazers are in the spotlight.

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