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19 Jun 2022

Arthur Ashe, revolutionary

While tennis has always been a popular sport, it wasn’t until the ’70 that it became what it is today, and that was largely due to famous players like Björn Borg, Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe.

The transition period was also crossed by Arthur Ashe – the first and only black man to win Wimbledon and one of Obama’s main influences – whose journey from South African apartheid protester to AIDS activist toward the end of his life. He died in 1993 from the disease, contracted as a result of a heart surgery.

Born in the segregated South of the United States, Ashe infiltrated predominantly white tennis just as the Civil Rights movement began to increase visibility. However, not taking part in the popularization of the radical discourse, he was welcomed with open arms.

The film’s structure is standard for a sports documentary, and captures the star’s story with clarity, with archival footage being presented alongside images of contemporary sports activists from Naomi Osaka and Colin Kaepernick, who show how much things have changed in recent decades. A fascinating portrait of a complex character, Citizen Ashe runs today, June 19, from 5:45PM at Cinema Victoria, and Sunday, June 26, from 10AM at Cinema ARTA.

Today's screening, June 19, will be preceded by the work in progress short film Nasty (dir. Tudor Giurgiu). The original bad boy of world tennis, but also one of the most performant and appreciated tennis players of all time, Ilie Năstase will be present at the screening, together with director Tudor Giurgiu. The film documents the life and career of the athlete (his record includes 64 ATP titles, two Grand slams, three Davis Cup finals) and includes archival footage, as well as interviews with guests such as Boris Becker or Rafael Nadal.

Article written by Laurențiu Paraschiv