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Tennis Star Andy Roddick Saved Lives in Rome Fire 16 Years Ago — Here's What Happened

Afouda Bamidele
Jan 17, 2021
07:40 P.M.
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Renowned tennis player Andy Roddick was once hailed a hero after he saved lives in a fire incident in Rome 16 years ago. Here is a glimpse into what went down.


Andy Roddick is famously known for his impressive tennis playing skills. He was named the World No. 1 player in 2003 and went on to win several more Grand Slams titles before his retirement in 2015.

However, Roddick's impact wasn't only limited to the world of tennis. The 38-year-old was a true hero who never failed to step up whenever needed, especially during an infamous fire incident in Rome.

Andy Roddick at the 2017 Mylan World TeamTennis New York Empire vs Philadelphia Freedoms match at St. Joseph's University on July 25, 2017 in Pennsylvania. | Photo: Getty Images


In 2004, Roddick, alongside other tennis players, traveled to Rome, Italy for the Rome Masters tournament. While lodged at the five-star hotel, Parco Dei Principi, in central Rome, a fire broke out at around 5 am and engulfed the top floor.

The players were all safely evacuated. However, much of their equipment was destroyed in the fire.


According to reports, about 200 guests were evacuated from the hotel. Roddick, who was on the sixth floor, had to jump from the balcony because the corridor was already filled with smoke. Speaking about it, he said:

"I woke up to go to the bathroom and noticed it smelled a little bit like fire in my room. I couldn't figure out what it was. So I opened the front door, and a cloud of black smoke came in."


Upon leaving through his balcony, Roddick helped rescue Dutch player Sjeng Schalken and his wife, alongside six others trapped on a roof ten feet away.

They all had to jump to his balcony, and the Nebraska native helped catch them while communicating with people on the first floor, who had been trapped, and those below who could help out.


When asked how he could be proactive amid the turmoil, Roddick explained that it all came to him instinctively because of the adrenaline rush. According to ATP Tour spokesman Nicola Arzani, the players were all safely evacuated.

However, much of their equipment was destroyed in the fire. Roddick lost all of his belongings in his sixth-floor suite with his rackets getting melted. Most of the hotel guests escaped the fire; unfortunately, three victims lost their lives.

They included an elderly Canadian couple, Paul and Bernice Busque, who passed away from smoke inhalation, and an American man James Lawery, who fell while trying to climb down the balcony using a rope made of bedsheets.

Five people were treated for smoke inhalation. The fire outbreak was treated as suspicious, and the police questioned two female Americans.