Re: The much-maligned Miss Tracy Austin
What she achieved 79-81 establishes her as a great player on hardcourts and, given her Californian tennis upbringing/culture, it is to be expected that cement would be her best surface. Indoors she was no slouch either but her development on grass and clay probably suffered from the tour structure in the late 70s. In particular, her failure to bag the biggest scalps on grass (an aged BJK excepted) casts some doubt as to her prospects on that surface. Nobody with less grasscourt skill than Tracy ever won Wimbledon and one or two with considerably more didn't make it either.
Her prospects on clay are harder to establish: her wins at the FC Cup and Rome suggest that she had the game to win RG but players like Gaby and Conchita didn't make it there because there was always someone that bit better and one could argue that in Tracy's case, the double-thick barrier of Mesdames Evert and Navratilova in their form of 82-6 would have proven just as hard to overcome as that of Graf and Seles in the early 90s.
But Andy, the whole point with Austin was that she was not intimidated by Evert or Navratilova. That counts for so much. There are countless matches I can think of in the 80s, post 81, when Evert and Navratilova won GS semis and finals with tennis that would not have been good enough to put Austin away. I think on clay she would have been formidable- sadly she never played at the French when at her peak. And I dont think there is any comparison as a mental and strategic maestro between Austin and Martinez and Sabatini.