I’ve written before about amputees who have achieved great things in sport despite their physical disability and another such is Austrian tennis player Hans Redl.
Born in Vienna in 1914, Redl was a better than average player and made the Austrian Davis Cup team in 1937, but after the Anschluss, he represented Germany in 1938 and 1939.
Redl was conscripted into the German army at the outbreak of war and served on the Eastern Front. He was wounded during the Siege of Stalingrad and lost his left arm as a result.
After an intense rehabilitation programme, Redl went on to become Austria’s best tennis player and brought about a change in the rules to allow him to play.
Redl’s problem was in his serve. He could only do so by placing the ball on his racquet and flipping it into the air, meaning that he touched the ball twice. The rule was changed to allow him to do this.
Redl played in the tournament between 1947 and 1956, although his best effort came in his first championship. He fared better in the doubles where he partnered Alfred Huber and the pair made the quarter-finals in 1953, taking a set off Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall, the eventual champions.
He also represented Austria in the Davis Cup from 1948 to 1955 winning three doubles and one singles match. Redl entered tennis administration after 1956, eventually becoming president of the Austrian Tennis Federation.
Redl continued to play seniors tennis until as late as 1968 and died in Vienna in 1976.