I have the most incredible story to share with you. As we know, it was 100 years ago today, that the RMS Titanic sank. After being struck by an iceberg, around midnight on April 14th 1912. The ship quickly took on water and sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. There weren’t nearly enough life boats for the passengers. As a result, some 1,500 people lost their lives. It’s probably one of the greatest tragedies ever, because there were so many ways it could have been avoided.
Since my blog is about tennis, I was curious to see if there were any stories of tennis players, who were on board the Titanic. I was astonished by what I found. An article on two professional tennis players, who happened to be sailing on the ship. The first man Karhl Behr, was traveling to America with his fiance and her family. He was fortunate enough to get in a life boat and survived the disaster. Along with his soon to be wife and her parents. He actually proposed to his fiance in the life boat and they were married the following year.
The other guy. Richard Norris Williams II, was not so lucky. After witnessing the death of his father (who was killed by a collapsing smoke funnel.) Williams, was washed overboard, near a collapsible life boat. He and several other survivors, spent the next few hours clinging to the lifeboat. Eventually, they were picked up by passengers in lifeboat 14. William’s legs were badly frost bitten and when he was taken aboard the Carpathia, a doctor recommended amputating them. He refused the offer and chose to walk around the ship’s deck, in an effort to regain the feeling in his legs. Incredibly, it worked. Allowing him to avoid the amputation. Several months later, he went on to reach the quarter-finals of the US Open and win in mixed doubles. This would be the first of many slam wins for Williams, including two US Open titles in 1914 and 1916. Later on he served in World War 1 and then returned to tennis, once the war had ended. Winning the Wimbledon doubles in 1920. Four years later, in 1924 he won the gold medal in mixed doubles. Then the US Open doubles in 1925 and 1926. He retired from professional tennis in 1935 at the age of 44.
Amazing, isn’t it. The more I think about the story of Richard Norris Williams II, the more it blows my mind. He must have been a person with incredible fortitude to have survived the Titanic, World War 1 and still win six grand slams on top of it. If you want to read the full article, I found it here on irishtimes.com.
I’d highly recommend reading it. It’s a very unique story and proves that even after 100 years, we’re still learning new things about the Titanic.