Days of Grace Essay - Critical Essays

Days of Grace

The eleven chapters of Ashe’s memoir are reserved in tone yet deeply personal. Initially upset by his “outing” as an AIDS patient, Ashe turned the situation around by becoming a respected voice for victims of the disease while persisting in his struggles against racism.

In addition to facing early retirement from a brilliant tennis career because of heart disease, Ashe felt constantly battered by racial prejudice. Raised in the segregated South, Ashe also experienced racial taunting on the courts by other tennis professionals and saw the effects of apartheid firsthand on travels to South Africa. All this reinforced his commitment to help fight for equity.

While working both publicly and privately against racism, Ashe had to contend with criticism from fellow African Americans. A moderate by temperament and conviction, he was at odds with radical black factions. In DAYS OF GRACE he urges a renewed commitment to education and moral training in the black community; he criticizes other black athletes (Wilt Chamberlain and Earvin Johnson) for reinforcing stereotypes of black sexual irresponsibility and anti-intellectualism.

Ashe’s last days were spent reflecting on the philosophical ideals which he passes on to his daughter in a closing letter—a poignant epistle that serves as a spiritual last will and testament.

Sources for Further Study

Chicago Tribune. June 13, 1993, XIV, p.1.

The Christian Science Monitor. June 29, 1993, p.14.

Ebony. XLVIII, September, 1993, p.18.

Los Angeles Times Book Review. July 4, 1993, p.3.

The New York Times Book Review. XCVIII, June 13, 1993, p.1.

Tennis. XXIX, September, 1993, p.30.

Time. CXLI, June 21, 1993, p.70.

The Times Literary Supplement. July 30, 1993, p.28.

The Washington Post Book World. XXIII, June 27, 1993, p.3.