Stephen Ellison

After Ex-Tennis Star Ken Flach Dies of Sepsis, His Wife Aims to Raise Awareness, Keep His Memory Alive

If you’re a tennis fan, chances are you know the name Ken Flach. He formed half of what was considered the best doubles team in the world in the 1980s.

Flach, a Novato resident, died in March at age 54 from Sepsis. Today, his wife Christina is on a quest to not only raise awareness but also keep his memory alive.

"He was most proud, definitely, of the gold medal," Christina Flach said of her late husband. "He was so proud to be American, and after traveling around the world so much, so the gold medal meant the most to him."

To this day, Ken Flach is considered one of the greatest doubles players in tennis history. He played on Davis Cup teams with the likes of Andre Agassi and John McEnroe. It was some 14 years after his professional career ended that he met Christina. Six weeks after setting eyes on one another, they married.

"He was just an amazing soul," Christina said. "He was just so special."

Because Flach was a former world class athlete and still vibrant and energetic into his 50s, the circumstances surrounding his death last March are all the more perplexing. What started as a common cold morphed within hours.

"I rushed him to the emergency the next morning, and he was spitting up blood, and he was on life support in two hours," Christina said. "They waited three hours to give him an antibiotic. I mean, everything that could go wrong went wrong. We went into the hospital on Thursday, and on Monday, he died. I could not even believe how fast this attacked and won. I didn’t think anything could kill my big, strong husband."

In April, just a month after Ken’s death, a new purpose came Christina’s way. She was contacted by the Sepsis Alliance and a partnership was formed. The result was an awareness campaign featuring ads on Golden Gate ferries and on BART. The message is overt.

"That was the goal," Christina said. "I mean, I know some people find it a little harsh and maybe distasteful, but Sepsis is distasteful. I am a force right now to, like, squash Sepsis.

"It does keep his memory alive. It does," she continued. "And I want it to be kept alive. He deserves it."

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