Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Williams Set for Dive into Real World

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Williams Set for Dive into Real World

Article excerpt

Soon after Wendy Lian Williams first toddled in her family's Bridgeton home, she lurched off a diving board.

"She could dive but she couldn't swim," said her mother, Vivian. "My husband, Chick, would be in the water to catch her. She always loved it so much. She was like a little dolphin in the water, playing all the time."

Little Wendy used the diving board as a springboard into a world that most youngsters - and oldsters, for that matter - only fantasize about.

Olympic medalist. Model. Network broadcaster.

Soon after her 27th birthday next month, she plans to dive back into the world that most youngsters - and oldsters - would beg to escape.

Williams will attend the U.S. Olympic Festival here July 1-10. Partly because of her fund-raising appearances, aquatic events will be held at the new St. Peters Rec-Plex, the only natatorium in this area.

Then Williams, who quit diving two years ago because of back problems, will move to Maui with her boyfriend.

She spent the past year in Boulder, Colo., learning massage therapy. She will work with an older sister, who is a chiropractor. Hawaii may not be the real world as Midwesterners know it, but Williams' retreat from stardom is hard to fathom. Until she explains.

"I hated it," she said. "I wanted to stop being pretty on camera. I wear makeup about once every two weeks unless I have to do a photo shoot. Otherwise, I'm in sweats and a ponytail. I just wanted to stop being on all the time."

Williams, photogenic and personable, would seem to be a TV natural.

"I didn't feel like much of a natural," she said. "It felt difficult and forced. I was tired of the pressure. I just wanted to live my life for me."

Diving to a bronze medal at the 1988 Olympic Games before millions of viewers should be more stressful than talking to them. "But I trained to be the best diver in the world," she said. "I didn't train to be on TV."

Her TV debut was in '92 in Barcelona, as Olympic diving analyst for NBC. "Everybody was really nice," she said. "But they were drinking coffee all day and then they were drinking alcohol all night to wind down. Everybody's a chain smoker. A lot of them were divorced. …

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