Days of Grace: A Memoir

Front Cover
Alfred A. Knopf, 1993 - Biography & Autobiography - 317 pages
1 Review
A remarkable and inspiring memoir by a remarkable and inspiring human being: Arthur Ashe, embodiment of courage and grace in every aspect of his life, from his triumphs as a great tennis champion and his determined social activism to his ordeal in the face of death, a casualty of AIDS.
As he brings us into his childhood in Richmond, Virginia, where he was born in 1943, where his mother died when he was six, and where he was raised by a loving but demanding father who set before his son the goals of self-reliance, discipline, and responsibility. He recalls his exit from the then segregated South and his entry into the world of tennis: a black intruder in an all-white enclave, experiencing from the start every variety of rude or "polite" exclusion and yet becoming, despite it, one of his generation's great players. He takes us inside the tennis world of his championship years and his captaincy of the Davis Cup team.
He describes the full emotional shock of the discovery in 1988, in the aftermath of a brain operation, of his infection with AIDs - an infection that was traced back to a transfusion after a heart bypass operation in 1983. He tells what took place when he confided his condition to his wife and to a few close friends and colleagues. And he fully recounts for the first time what happened when, in April 1992, the possibility of a newspaper report forced him to reveal his illness to the world, the ordeal that ensued, and his feelings about it.
We see how, during the last five years of his life, Ashe devoted the brilliance and strength that had made him a great tennis champion to the championship of great causes: justice for black men and women, the fight against all prejudice, the battle against AIDS, and active opposition to South Africa's apartheid and to U.S. policy toward Haitians seeking asylum here.
With a quiet and moving openness Ashe talks about the athlete's life and about his contemporaries on the tennis court, among them Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, and John McEnroe. He gives us vivid images of the separate worlds of men and women on the tour. He addresses straightforwardly the subject of sexual promiscuity in the world of professional sport and the controversies over educational standards for college athletes.
He tells us about the burden of race he felt throughout his life, about the comfort he found in his religion and in the spiritual life, about his passionate devotion to his wife and daughter, about the people he has known, about himself.
This is the story of a life too soon ended - a memoir that will endure.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review


User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A genuinely affecting testament from the quietly activist champion-athlete who died young this past February. With an unobtrusive assist from Rampersad (The Life of Langston Hughes, 1988), Ashe offers ... Read full review

Days of Grace: A Memoir

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Days of Grace begins with an understandably annoyed Ashe holding a TV press conference to preempt a newspaper report that he has been stricken with the AIDS virus. After a diatribe against the ... Read full review


Middle Passage
Cup Wars
Protest and Politics

8 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1993)

Arnold Rampersad is Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature at Princeton University and a MacArthur Foundation Fellow.

Bibliographic information