Tennis player William Augustus Larned was popularly known as one of the Big Three in U.S. Tennis. Similar to Bill Tilden who came after him and Richard Sears who led tennis before him, William won seven titles. This included his success in the 1911 Davis Cup. He was inducted to the International World of Tennis Hall of Fame in 1956.
Born on December 30, 1872 and died on December 16, 1926, Larned grew up with his father, William Zebedee Larned, in their estate at Summit, New Jersey. A place called Larned Road in Summit was named in honour to both father and son. The roots of the Larned family can be tracked down after the Mayflower visited the area.
William Augustus was the eldest child. In 1890, he joined Cornell University to complete a degree in mechanical engineering. He was the only, actually the first student, to win the tennis championship title in the intercollegiate level.
Aside from tennis, William also captained the St. Nicholas ice hockey team in 1896 to 1897. He was actually an all-around athlete who was also involved in rifle shot, golf and horse riding. In fact, he was one of the Rough Riders under Theodore Roosevelt during the Spanish-American War in 1898.
Larned also excelled in the area of inventing when in 1922, he developed the steel-framed racket. He, himself, founded a group to manufacture the product.
Despite, Larned’s success, his career experienced a sudden downturn when after catching rheumatoid arthritis in Cuba while serving the war, his health weakened. He later on developed spinal meningitis which forced him to stop doing what he loved most. This resulted to a severe depression until the 53 year old William Augustus tragically committed suicide. He ended his life with a .45 caliber pistol shot to his head.