National Tennis Champion David Williams Talks About The Important Stuff: Girls & Dating

Editor’s Note: Every great champion has a mountain to climb, and the steeper and the higher the mountain, the more mental and physical strength required to reach the top. David Williams of Atlanta, Georgia, national champion in the A Divisionwheelchair division – of the United States Tennis Association, talks today about something more challenging than winning a national title: Dating.  Part 2 of a four-part series.

David Williams is a champion on and off the tennis court.

David Williams is a champion on and off the tennis court.

Question: David, tell us about this defining moment (see Day 1) when you knew that you’d probably never walk again.

Williams: When I went back to high school, I had crutches at first. I was 14 years old, and I had been very involved in sports, mainly basketball. All the guys I played basketball with and competed against in junior high were now playing basketball at the high school. After nearly a year, I still believed that one day I’d play basketball again. I was sitting at the bottom of the stairs at the gym watching my friends practice, and at that moment I realized I’d never play basketball again.

That was a very-difficult time in my life. From that moment, I spent about 4 years trying to heal from that disappointment. Most people didn’t know that I was dealing with this, because I kept smiling and telling everyone I was fine, while inside I was dealing with the fact that I’d never play basketball, walk or run again. That was really tough. I just couldn’t get my mind wrapped around that idea. I went through a four-year period of depression and anxiety, because I didn’t know what my future held.

After his paralysis, David learned about the power of positivity from his supportive family. Now, he's passing it on to his son, Eli.

After his paralysis, David learned about the power of positivity from his supportive family. Now, he's passing it on to his son, Eli.

Question: How were you able to hang-on through that 4-year depression?

Williams: I had an amazing, faith-based family who always kept me pointed in the right direction and always made me feel loved. They demonstrated their love by making me go to wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis practice. They also introduced me to other new activities. They would tell me, “Okay, so you can’t do some of the things that you used to do, the same way you used to do them, but there are other ways to do these things.”

David takes the court wearing his favorite red shorts at a recent exhibition match benefitting Multiple Sclerosis.

David takes the court wearing his favorite red shorts at a recent exhibition match benefitting Multiple Sclerosis.

My family was very pro-active about my getting back into living life. I didn’t want to play wheelchair tennis. I had absolutely no interest in it. My mom made me play. She said, “If you don’t like it, fine, but you’re going to try to play it.” I ended-up falling in love with tennis.

Since then, tennis has been a major driving force in my life, even now. Even 27 years after my mom made me try wheelchair tennis, the sport is still positively impacting my life. I’m very grateful that my mom made me learn the game. My family forced me out of my depression, although helping me do that took 4 years.

One thing that also helped me was I had a tremendous amount of confidence before my illness, because of sports and my relationships with girls (all the things that are important to a 14-year old). As I went through my depression, I noticed that some of the girls were taking an interest in me, and I started having success in wheelchair sports. I also found that many people became interested in my prowess as an athlete. My self-confidence began to slowly return.

Question: When did you know that you had beat your depression?

Williams: I don’t think there was ever a defining moment when I said, “Wow! I’m not depressed anymore.” I just slowly crept out of that deep, dark hole and finally began to believe that everything would be okay with my life. Through sports and social interaction with others, I came to believe that my life and my future would be fine.

Question: How did you find out that girls liked you, even though you were in a wheelchair?

David and Emily Williams

David and Emily Williams

Williams: When I went out with a group of friends, I’d see an occasional interest from some of the girls in the group. But I was so gun-shy and short on confidence that the only way I ever really knew that anyone was interested in me was if someone came up and told me. I just assumed that because I was in a wheelchair, no girl would ever be interested in me.

Now I count my disability as a blessing. I’m really glad that I met my wife when I was already in a wheelchair and not when I was able-bodied and had something happen to put me in a wheelchair. I knew when I met my wife that there would be no surprises. She knew exactly what she was getting into, and she accepted me for who I was. That was what I began to see in high school. Girls accepted me for who I was and not as a guy in a wheelchair.

Question: When did your dating life change?

Williams: I was about 21 years old before I started dating a lot and with confidence. I only went on one date when I was in high school. If a girl I thought was mildly attractive started to talk to me in high school, I’d turn purple with embarrassment. I had a severe lack of confidence, and when you mix that with severe depression, functioning socially is hard. I just couldn’t believe a girl would be interested in a guy in a wheelchair.

Question: What happened at age 21 to make you believe that a girl could be interested in you as you were?

Williams: There were several factors. I was teaching able-bodied tennis players how to play better, I was winning tennis tournaments, I was more comfortable in group settings, and I realized that people were truly interested in what I was doing. So, why should this be different in a one-on-one dating setting?

I had to mature and grow personally before I could mature and grow socially. I finally realized that I was in a wheelchair, and whether I wanted to be or not didn’t matter. That’s where I was. I was still David Williams, and I would always be myself. I wasn’t going to let the chair dictate who I was. Yes, it was a part of me, but it wasn’t me. The chair was only a mode of transportation. It would certainly change me forever, but I wouldn’t let it define me.

The entire Williams family took Disney World by storm this summer.

The entire Williams family took Disney World by storm this summer.

David Williams’ story has a special place in our heart because David has been part of the UroMed family for more than 10 years. He currently works with clinicians and patients across the Southeast as a Territory Representative for UroMed.  David also volunteers as a peer counselor for UroMed’s non-profit program: Life After Spinal Cord Injury.

David was also recently featured in an article by Inside Healthcare magazine. See the story here.

Next: National Champion David Williams Didn’t Intend to Be a Tennis Player

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com

About UroMed Catheters
Headquartered in Suwanee, GA [a suburb of Atlanta], UroMed is one of the nation’s leading providers of single-use catheters, urological and disposable medical supplies, including intermittent catheters, closed system catheters, condom catheters, pediatric catheters and continence care products. UroMed is nationally accredited for Medicare reimbursement and most state Medicaid plans, and partners with private health insurance providers and health plans to provide patients with single-use catheters, catheter kits and incontinence products. UroMed also has seven staffed regional offices located in Boston, MA; Columbia, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Dallas, TX; Carlsbad, CA; Knoxville, TN; Richmond, VA; and Baton Rouge, LA; enabling next-day delivery after a customer’s initial medical supply order. For more information, please visit http://www.uromed.com or call 1-800-841-1233.

2 Responses to National Tennis Champion David Williams Talks About The Important Stuff: Girls & Dating

  1. Pingback: Wheelchair Tennis Champion David Williams Shares His Competitive Success & Spirit « UroMed Catheter Health Blog

  2. Pingback: Wheelchair Tennis Champion David Williams Shares His Competitive Success & Spirit

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