November 8, 2006
Ham Richardson, 73, a Star in Tennis Despite Diabetes, Is Dead
By RICHARD GOLDSTEIN
Ham Richardson, who surmounted juvenile diabetes to become a leading American tennis player in the 1950s and early ’60s, died Sunday in Manhattan. He was 73.
The cause was complications of diabetes, his family said.
When he was 15 years old and one of the best junior players in the United States, Richardson was found to have diabetes.
“The first physician we went to said I could not play competitive tennis again,” Richardson recalled in a 1997 interview with The New Orleans Times-Picayune. “So I went to a second doctor. He said the same thing, so I went to a third. When I finally found one who said I wouldn’t have to give it up, my tennis picked up right where it left off.”
Richardson, a native of Baton Rouge, La., was a two-time N.C.A.A. singles champion at Tulane University, then went on to an outstanding career in amateur tennis in the final decade before the open era.
He was the No. 1-ranked player in the United States in 1956 and 1958, won 17 national titles and played on seven Davis Cup teams with a record of 20-2. He teamed with Alex Olmedo to win the men’s doubles at the United States Nationals, the forerunner of the United States Open, at Forest Hills in Queens in 1958.
Richardson and Olmedo came back from a two-set deficit to win the doubles in the Davis Cup finals against Australia at Brisbane in December 1958, after the Aussies defeated the United States in the finals the three previous years. They outlasted Mal Anderson and Neale Fraser, 10-12, 3-6, 16-14, 6-3, 7-5, and the Americans went on to a 3-2 victory.
Hamilton Farrar Richardson’s triumphs came among continuing struggles with diabetes.
When he won the 1950 French junior championship, he had to spend every night at a Paris hospital while doctors tried to stabilize his fluctuating blood-sugar levels. He passed out as a result of low blood sugar on the way to a party the evening before he was to play in the finals of a Newport, R.I., tournament in 1951, then won the championship in a five-set match.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in economics at Tulane, Richardson was a Rhodes scholar. He was studying at Oxford University, from which he received a master’s degree, the first time he was ranked No. 1.
He worked in the investment field for the past 35 years and at his death was president of Richardson and Associates, a New York investment and venture capital firm.
Richardson is survived by his wife, Midge Turk Richardson, a past editor in chief of Seventeen magazine; his sons, Kevin, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and Kenneth, of Eastchester, N.Y., and a daughter, Kathryn Ann Sawers, of Dallas, from a previous marriage that ended in divorce; and five grandchildren.
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
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