Arthur Ashe: Citizen of the World (HBO, 10-11 p.m.): He pioneered the path of black tennis players to the top ranks of the game, and he did it with grace and discipline. Before succumbing to AIDS - acquired through a blood transfusion - he became a world-renowned spokesman for people diagnosed with the disease. He was a low-key and highly effective champion of civil rights. And he was among the classiest tennis players in recent history.
Narrated by Ossie Davis, this film explores the many sides of Ashe and follows his life story from its beginnings in Richmond, Va., where his father was caretaker for the city's largest black playground - a place that just happened to have some public tennis courts.
The show records Ashe's early encounters with racism and how his visibility as a world-class player grew until he became the first black to win a Grand Slam event and be ranked No. 1 in the world.
The program includes Ashe's controversial role as a player in a South African tennis tournament (despite his strong opposition to that country's racial policies at the time), his role in the 1973 Wimbledon boycott, and his noted humanitarian efforts. The show also covers Ashe's medical problems, which until his death didn't stop his quiet brand of activism.
World of Wonder (The Discovery Channel, 8-8:30 p.m.): Even for a magazine format, it would be hard to think of more eclectic topics than these: lobsters who march on the ocean bottom to avoid violent currents; conceptual artist Christo and his works that sometimes cover whole landscapes; a storm-chaser who videotapes terrifyingly violent weather.
But they're all represented in the premiere episode of this weekly series about how humans relate to science and nature. The host is Mae Jemison - engineer, astronaut, physician, linguist - well, the list goes on, and it helps explain the inclusive nature of this new program.
Please check local listings for these programs.