New York: Former tennis champion Dick Williams’ story of how he survived the Titanic tragedy in 1912 has been narrated in a new book.
Williams nearly had his legs amputated after waiting hours in freezing water but later won the US tennis title twice.
‘Titanic: The Tennis Story’, a “historical novel” by Lindsay Gibbs, tells of Williams and fellow tennis star Karl Behr, who both survived the disaster and met on the rescue ship Carpathia.
They went on to become Davis Cup teammates, and Williams won the tournament later known as the US Open in 1914 and 1916.
“This story is even more fascinating and romantic than the James Cameron movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet — and this story is true!” the New York Post quoted Gibbs as saying in a press release.
But Lydia Williams Griffin, Philadelphia-based granddaughter of the tennis star said that all of it wasn’t true.
“It is true that my grandfather survived the Titanic and became a tennis champion. But the rest is false. They have spun a fictional tale on a bare scaffold of real events,” she said.
In an e-mail to Gibbs and publisher Randy Walker, Griffin blasted the book as “inaccurate, unacceptable and distasteful.
“My family and I are outraged that you have hijacked my grandfather’s story. The fabrications, misrepresentations and sensationalism that you . . . are now selling in such an irresponsible and deceptive fashion should weigh heavily on your consciences,” she added.
Griffin calls depictions of her family “horrifying,” such as claims that Williams was pushed into tennis by his father. Nor did Behr help save his legs from amputation.
“They never researched the story with us or the Behr family. The real story is better than [Gibbs’] preposterous tale. My grandfather would be horrified,” she said.
Walker said that parts of the book were factual and other parts were creative license.
“This is the greatest story in the history of tennis.
“He survived the Titanic against incredible odds then went on to win major US titles,” he said.