Re: The much-maligned Miss Tracy Austin
Great thread. I remember the buzz around Tracy when she made it to the QF's the USO in '77. I do think that she suffers in reputation because she was viewed as a threat to Evert. We Evert fans didn't like that. It would've been interesting to see if her game evolved with time. The evolution of Evert's game was what brought her back to the top of the rankings. The evolution of Navratilova built her into the dominant player that she was. Tracy was a hard-hitting metronome. She didn't show a Plan B. I think it's impossible to tell if she would have had the ability to take herself physically or strategically to the next level. I think that Martina would've begun to punish her serve more and more as the years went on if Tracy didn't beef that up. Unfortunately, Tracy's career began to wind down at the same point where Navratilova and Evert were taking theirs to the next level, so we'll never know how she might have responded.
Regardless, I think with Tracy's firepower, she would have periodically had times that she could have beaten anyone. How often, who knows?
I agree it is one of the great unknowns of the womens game. But Austin was a fantastic hitter of the ball even with the old wooden rackets. I am not sure how she would have fared against Navratilova or Mandlikova on a fast grass court if she didnt beef up her serve. But I think she would have done. She was effectively finished at the same age as Evert was when she won her first GS title against Morozova in Paris. Even the most ardent Evert fans could not have accused her of being a very complete player either at that stage.