It’s no surprise that Leni Williams is making the most of her senior years.
The World War II concentration camp survivor has missed just one of 31 Australasian Daytime Ladies Badminton Championships.
As a founding member of the championship, it was one of her colleagues who said her larrikin nature had “put the fun back into badminton”.
A Ukrainian and Estonian national, Williams immigrated to Australia in April 1949, landing in Melbourne after spending five years in displacement camps waiting for a country to accept her and her family.
Williams recalls escaping a Berlin concentration camp in 1941 on the night the city was bombed, living in an abandoned kindergarten armed with a gas mask and her mother performing grisly operations with a pocket knife on land mine survivors.
“Mum wanted me to become a dentist, so I played sport instead,” Williams said.
Williams has competed on a national level in softball, badminton, athletics and hockey.
Her love of badminton stemmed from the individualism of the sport.
“If I play good or bad it’s all up to me, and it’s not about who you know,” she said.
“It’s one thing you can play right up until your 80 or 90.”
The 76-year-old said the “Jamboree” – as the competition is also known as – was more than a badminton competition.
“The competition is strong, the ladies make new friends and you get to see the country,” she said.