“Arthur Ashe: A Life” is among the best books about tennis I’ve ever read — it’s a deep, detailed, thoughtful chronicle of one of the country’s best and most important players. I wanted to hear more, though, about Ashe’s game and what sort of player he was on the court. And the author (whose previous books include “Freedom Riders”) is on thin ice when he suggests that Ashe was more popular among whites than blacks. Among blacks who love tennis, Ashe remains a god to this day.
It’s inspiring to read about Ashe growing up to become a political figure on his own terms, every bit as political as Ali, even as he employed the measured tones of a diplomat rather than the bombastic tones of a revolutionary. In many ways, Ashe, more than Ali, is the spiritual father of Colin Kaepernick, the seminal athlete-activist of today.