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Tracy liked sure footing and a sure, fairly high bounce like most hard courters. I think she would have found Aussie conditions and grass more to her liking than English conditions and grass. I think Austin was always going to need dry conditions to feel confident and comfortable on grass. If she was going to win a Wimbledon, I think she would have the weather gods to stay on her good side in the second week of play and some breaks in the draw.
 

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Tracy liked sure footing and a sure, fairly high bounce like most hard courters. I think she would have found Aussie conditions and grass more to her liking than English conditions and grass. I think Austin was always going to need dry conditions to feel confident and comfortable on grass. If she was going to win a Wimbledon, I think she would have the weather gods to stay on her good side in the second week of play and some breaks in the draw.
True, it's interesting to me the different results that came out of Australian grass compared to Wimbledon, Mats Wilander could never make it past the quarters at the big W, yet won two years in a row on grass at Kooyong, while he was still a baby before he developed an all-court game and his slice backhand. Also Vilas won in Australia twice on grass and he also never made it past the Qs at Wimbledon.
 

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True, it's interesting to me the different results that came out of Australian grass compared to Wimbledon, Mats Wilander could never make it past the quarters at the big W, yet won two years in a row on grass at Kooyong, while he was still a baby before he developed an all-court game and his slice backhand. Also Vilas won in Australia twice on grass and he also never made it past the Qs at Wimbledon.
I will give credit where it is due, I first learned this basic concept from BJK, who said the reason Hana did better Down Under was because the grass stayed dry and it helped her footing. She talked about the differences between these grass conditions. I researched the topic thereafter.

The only personal experience I ever had 'playing' on grass involved one of those hitting walls they created in a park next to cement court/basket ball court. The side they intended to be used was paved with lines etc. This 22 year old nerd with the athletic skills of Charlie Brown tried to use the other side to appreciate the Wimbledon experience. Literally a pitted 'lawn' of a city park with no funds to do more than mow it for a fire hazard. I was hitting lobs over the wall that weren't supposed to be lobs. Matter of fact, those lobs discovered the county jurisdictional survey line. Those new balls did the strangest twists and turns within those 4 inches they traveled off the turf.

Trust me, you guys would have been spitting laughter watching me try to scrape that ball off the dirt mounds with shriveled blades. The real tennis players near by were!
 

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What was Tracy's form like during the Canadian Open in 1981? She whipped Evert in straight sets in the final in Toronto, but I don't recall ever reading a match report or watching any clips from this encounter. Was her form more or less the same as what she showed at the US Open a couple of weeks later?

We all have our own theories about how and why Austin was able to beat Navratilova in the US Open final that year after being thwacked 6-1 in the opening set. Last weekend I watched the last few games of the Navratilova vs Evert semi-final and it made me wonder what might have happened if Evert had managed to win that semi. Had Austin struck enough of a mental blow with the Toronto smackdown that she could have earned herself a second US Open title at Chrissie's expense? Or would the nightmares of the 1980 semi-final have come back to haunt Tracy?

In any case I'm happy for Tracy that Martina reached the final and Austin went down in tennis history as having had to beat Evert in one Slam final and Navratilova in the other. Brief though Tracy's career was, she fulfilled her potential and managed to make the most of her abbreviated career, which is more than most professional players can say for themselves.
 

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Some scattered thoughts on Canada. According to Evert Austin won because she was 'hungrier." There were also death threats vs Chris her last 3 matches. The tournament didn't think they were "serious" but put 30 extra guards round the court for the final just in case. Borg had threats in Canada the year before. A write up of the final wondered why Evert didn't drop and then lob Tracy more. The few times Chris did drop shot she then tried to pass Austin, who usually won the point.

By beating Evert Austin became the only female to have a winning head to head vs Evert up to this point.

Austin performed that rarest of feats in the early 1980s-beating both Navratilova and Evert in the same event. So she proved herself as far as I'm concerned.

On the flip side Tracy had the easier draw at the US Open. When Jaeger lost early the draw really opened up-and it was Evert, Navratilova, and Mandlikova in the tougher section of the draw.

Had Evert beaten Martina and faced Tracy in the final---who knows? I'd have picked Austin, but the windy conditions could have helped one or the other. It could have helped Chris with her drop/lob combo or better margin for error, or Tracy because her forehand could through the wind better. Who knows?

As Samn put it "she fulfilled her potential and managed to make the most of her abbreviated career."
 

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Thanks for that update on the Canadian Open, Rollo. Now that you mention it, I do vaguely recall having read something about the threats Evert received, but I had no idea she'd had them for her last three matches in Toronto. That week in Toronto was one of the craziest the women's tour has seen, what with the death threats against Chrissie, Bettina Bunge storming off the court in anger and conceding her match to Pammy Whammy Shriver, Hana Mandlikova getting warned (and fined?) for making obscene gestures at linesmen after disagreeing with their line calls and, of course, Pammy turning the tennis court into a profanity-laden Martin Scorsese film following her loss to Tracy in the quarters. :LOL:

For me the worst part of losing Austin (and to some extent, Jaeger) to injuries was that Evert and Navratilova lost a rival who was competitive as hell and had a burning desire to go out on court and kick her rivals' behinds. When Austin dropped off the tour the only challenge to Evertilova was from Hana, who needed all the stars to be aligned right and for her fragile body to not fall apart in order to play at the level that she was capable of.

It's a horrible thing to say about poor Pammy, but I feel women's singles in the mid-80s would have more competitive had it been Shriver dropping off the tour instead of Austin. Austin's hellcat mentality and her competitive fire were better for the game than Shriver's "Oh, my God! Chrissie is going to be mad at me if I take a set off her or beat her. Martina is way too good and I can't even think about beating her. Steffi has passed me already and I don't know if I'll win a major title ever!" self-flagellation. Tracy, on the other hand, would have been looking Steffi in the eye (after standing up on a chair first to reach up to Steffi) and saying stuff like, "Give it a rest, Graf. I am going to beat you and the hundreds of other girls that we have in the States just like you."

If Austin's body hadn't fallen apart and she had managed to bulk up and adapt to the more physical style of play, she might have gone through the same "I'm looking in a mirror" experience (that Chrissie did with Tracy) when playing the equally competitive Monica Seles in the late 80s and early 90s. For every Seles grunt Austin would have stopped the point to tie her shoelaces or fidget or adjust her wristband. 🤣
 

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Even Pammy agrees with you, samn! As do I. Losing Tracy Austin was a disaster for tennis in the early/mid 80’s that left a void that really wasn’t filled until 1986/87. And that fact that it occurred almost simultaneously with the abrupt and strange departure of Bjorn Borg basically ended the tennis boom in terms of mass pop culture phenomenon. In my minds eye the 1981 US Open was The End. Of course Tracy had a few more months of top flight tennis, but none of it was televised where I lived, so it was the last time I saw either of them. The next time I saw a full Austin match was December 1982 and it was doom, doom, doom - love and love - and she was a shadow of her former self.

Men’s tennis was fortunate to have several brief exciting jolts - Wilander coming out of nowhere, Noah’s surprising FO, and most importantly a new superstar in Becker. Women’s tennis really only had the flickering promise of Mandlikova after Jaeger’s brief few months beating Evert and threatening Martina, which basically seemed completely over by the second set of the 1982 French.

The men were lucky that Lendl was a champion, week in/week out, compared to Mandlikova, but were the really, given it was Ivan Lendl? When Mandlikova FINALLY seemed to willing and able to at the very least compete with The Chris + Martina Show, she immediately faltered when she should have risen, post Australian 1987.

Thank god Steffi showed up, followed by Monica a few years later. Both had that same teen Austin steely quality and never seemed frightened or awed by the occasion. But Austin should have still been there, battling the youngsters. She would have been only 24 when Steffi hit number one in 1987. It’s always been a very strange thought to ponder.
 

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Even Pammy agrees with you, samn! As do I. Losing Tracy Austin was a disaster for tennis in the early/mid 80’s that left a void that really wasn’t filled until 1986/87. And that fact that it occurred almost simultaneously with the abrupt and strange departure of Bjorn Borg basically ended the tennis boom in terms of mass pop culture phenomenon. In my minds eye the 1981 US Open was The End. Of course Tracy had a few more months of top flight tennis, but none of it was televised where I lived, so it was the last time I saw either of them. The next time I saw a full Austin match was December 1982 and it was doom, doom, doom - love and love - and she was a shadow of her former self.

Men’s tennis was fortunate to have several brief exciting jolts - Wilander coming out of nowhere, Noah’s surprising FO, and most importantly a new superstar in Becker. Women’s tennis really only had the flickering promise of Mandlikova after Jaeger’s brief few months beating Evert and threatening Martina, which basically seemed completely over by the second set of the 1982 French.

The men were lucky that Lendl was a champion, week in/week out, compared to Mandlikova, but were the really, given it was Ivan Lendl? When Mandlikova FINALLY seemed to willing and able to at the very least compete with The Chris + Martina Show, she immediately faltered when she should have risen, post Australian 1987.

Thank god Steffi showed up, followed by Monica a few years later. Both had that same teen Austin steely quality and never seemed frightened or awed by the occasion. But Austin should have still been there, battling the youngsters. She would have been only 24 when Steffi hit number one in 1987. It’s always been a very strange thought to ponder.
This is evidenced by the loss of sponsorship of both Avon and Toyota at the end of 1982. The women's tour had to go back to Virginia Slims in 1983, which was definitely a step backward and I think this was due in no small part to Austin's drop in level of play and constant late withdrawals, Jaeger's frequent tanking, Mandlikova basically going off-form until 1984 and the Marilyn Barnett lawsuit. No wonder NBC was practically throwing a parade for Bassett at Amelia Island in 1983.
 

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Good points Pam. Austin was a big name-and with Evert bailing on most indoor events from 1980 the winter Avon tour was in dire straits.

To me Shriver was an exciting personality to have on tour. Austin v Shriver could have been a good rivalry even if Austin usually had the upper hand.

I rate Shriver with Elizabeth Ryan. Both great players who would always struggle against the very best because they essentially chopped the ball off both sides.
 

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God, I almost forgot the NBC Parade of Publicity for Bassett at that event in 1983! I have to admit I was very excited at the prospect of Carling being able to threaten Chris + Martina that spring. It wasn’t yet apparent that Martina was going to dominate the tour yet, as Chris held three slams that spring, but without Austin or Hana threatening it was getting stale. NBC gave Carling serious star treatment that weekend. It’s what I imagined The Virginia Slims of Capriati being like, but the lite, sugar free version. More Chlorox, less innocence and gum chewing.
 

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[email protected] that last sentence Mark! Loved watching the Family Circle Cup each spring. They were really the first ones to build up Sabatini when she made the finals in 1985. Poor kid was exhausted-playing 3 different matches in 1 day (need to check that) due to rain delay.

NBC had to have their final on time.
And the Sabatini family (papa?) controlling Gaby like a puppet on strings.

She was like a pretty maiden being put on the alter of sacrifice to the hungry tennis gods.
 

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Wasn't the Carling Bassett 'premature coronation' that Mark43 is referring to at the Amelia Island tournament rather than the Family Circle Cup?

Rollo, I am fairly certain that the Sabatini family were given the option of playing the final on the next day because Gaby had already had to complete her postponed quarter-final match against Pam Shriver and then beat Manuela Maleeva in the semi-final earlier that day. The completion of the Shriver match and the Maleeva semi-final had already taken Sabatini three-and-a-half hours to play.

I recall Shriver hinting (where else?) in "Passing Shots" that the Sabatini team had been unwise in agreeing to the Sunday final so that Gaby would feature in a nationally televised final rather than a Monday slot which wouldn't be on TV. Especially since Evert had romped to a 6-2 6-1 win over Graf in the other semi-final and would have been well-rested before playing the exhausted Gaby. Shriver seemed to think that the Sabatini camp was swayed by the prospect of a flashy debut in a big final on NBC.

I don't often agree with Pammy on most things, but one thing she was dead right about was that Sabatini should have rested after Hilton Head instead of going on to play Amelia Island the very next day, where she managed to fare better by taking a set off Chrissie in their rematch. At least some of the press coverage from towards the end of 1985 was prescient enough in pointing out that Peter Graf was managing Steffi's schedule a lot better by not letting her play too many tournaments and ensuring a long enough break at the end of the year whereas poor Gaby was also being made to play numerous exhibitions during the off-season. As Curry Kirkpatrick wrote in his SI recap of the 1987 French Open, poor Sabatini, poor butterfly!
 
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God, I almost forgot the NBC Parade of Publicity for Bassett at that event in 1983! I have to admit I was very excited at the prospect of Carling being able to threaten Chris + Martina that spring. It wasn’t yet apparent that Martina was going to dominate the tour yet, as Chris held three slams that spring, but without Austin or Hana threatening it was getting stale. NBC gave Carling serious star treatment that weekend. It’s what I imagined The Virginia Slims of Capriati being like, but the lite, sugar free version. More Chlorox, less innocence and gum chewing.
Ha! I remember all the mania and hype that surrounded the circus that was the Virginia Slims of Capriati. The America-centric tennis press was so desperate for "the next Chrissie" following Chris America's retirement in 1989 that the poor 14-year-old child was subjected to ridiculous pressure and expectations. At the time I recall thinking that even though the press was harping on Capriati as the challenger who was going to usurp Graf's throne, it was pretty evident that Steffi's most dangerous threat was going to be Monica Seles and not Capriati.

I did laugh when the much maligned Tracy Austin wrote in her book that Capriati had better groundstrokes than both Graf and Seles. And that is my rather unsubtle way of bringing this thread back to Miss Austin.
 
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What are your thoughts on Tracy’s autobiography? She got creamed by David Wallace Foster as a complete dodo bird, which was hilarious. He said she was vapid and thoughtless or something along those lines. I just remember the cover...she had more Authentic Farrah Fawcett Polyester Hair Extensions by QVC than a dime store drag queen in a PTown extravaganza!
 

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I remember reading the auto-bio when it first came out in 1992 and thinking it was okay. I read it again years later and it really is a piece of crap. There is no insight whatsoever and she devotes a whole chapter to the tennis abilities of celebrities she partnered with at pro-am events. DFW was right on, because it really did have the potential to be an amazing book, as she could have discussed the psychological aspects of being a global celebrity at the age of 14 and having to cut her career short at 21 years old amongst other things, but she refused to 'go there'. The funny thing is, that it wasn't like she wasn't afraid to totally diss Evert, Shriver and her own sister in the book, but she absolutely refused to in any way reflect in any depth on herself or her own life.
 

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I remember reading the auto-bio when it first came out in 1992 and thinking it was okay. I read it again years later and it really is a piece of crap. There is no insight whatsoever and she devotes a whole chapter to the tennis abilities of celebrities she partnered with at pro-am events. DFW was right on, because it really did have the potential to be an amazing book, as she could have discussed the psychological aspects of being a global celebrity at the age of 14 and having to cut her career short at 21 years old amongst other things, but she refused to 'go there'. The funny thing is, that it wasn't like she wasn't afraid to totally diss Evert, Shriver and her own sister in the book, but she absolutely refused to in any way reflect in any depth on herself or her own life.
I concur. I also recall one passage about working hard to write some report for school and getting an "A" since that was the grade she/her family expected of herself. That teacher must have had some weird criteria, for Tracy often makes mistakes in her speech. For example, she usually takes one-syllable words like "fit" and says "more fit" instead of "fitter."

From my experiences seeing her play live in 1997/chatting while getting her to sign that book, seeing her at events for media work, and listening to her on TV, I give her credit for always keeping a professional, positive demeanor and seeming to be a kind-hearted person. I remember her groundstrokes having good pace for a woman of her age (because let's face it, in 1997, 34 was old) and surmising that it was due to her great timing. Perhaps her viewpoint of Jen's groundstrokes being better than Monica and Steffi's comes from Jen hitting the ball a bit more like Tracy than those other two.

One more comment about the book: I think it gets more analytical about herself and her situation during the 1989 sidelining while not truly "explaining" the exit from the tour in the early '80s.
 

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Ha! I had forgotten that awful cover photo of Tracy's autobiography with the big 80s hair and the shoulder pads. I read the book back when I lived in the States for a few years and found it in my local county library. From what I can remember, and it isn't very much, she opened it with the story about Navratilova at the 1989 US Open, got back at Shriver for the nasty remarks in "Passing Shots", had some passive aggressive things to say about her sister (also called Pam) and then spouted some of the usual predictable stuff about how Capriati was going to be the top challenger for Seles. TBH I don't remember very much about the writing, which probably means that I didn't find it very engaging at all.

I have to agree with our Pam and say that the book had the potential to be really insightful because Austin was in many ways the first of the women's tennis prodigies whose career was cut short in the age of television. She could have talked at length about what it meant to be thought of as that good at that young an age, what her frustrations were like when her body wouldn't obey her, how she could have approached her career differently, or even whether playing too much on cement at a young age accelerated the breakdown of her body. Instead all we got was the predictable bits like "Martina is nicer than people think and Chrissie is the bitchy one" and "Steffi is finished. Jennifer is going to rule women's tennis." (paraphrasing here).

To be fair to Austin I also found Hana Mandlikova's and Zina Garrison's autobiographies deadly dull. Some players just don't seem to be very good at making their stories engaging or interesting enough. For me the best book by a woman player is probably still Navratilova's "Being Myself". Then again Martina's life was so full of twists and turns and intrigue that any story about her life would have made for interesting reading. (Communists! Father's Suicide! Defection! Lesbians! The Great Wide Hope Undergoes a Physical Transformation! Transsexual Coaches! Agent Orange! Chris America! It's all in there. "Being Myself" would have made a great, if somewhat trashy, miniseries.)
 

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What are your thoughts on Tracy’s autobiography? She got creamed by David Wallace Foster as a complete dodo bird, which was hilarious. He said she was vapid and thoughtless or something along those lines. I just remember the cover...she had more Authentic Farrah Fawcett Polyester Hair Extensions by QVC than a dime store drag queen in a PTown extravaganza!
:LOL: I can't understand why she let them choose such an unflattering cover shot. Tracy wasn't bad-looking and they could have shot a much better photo than what they ended up with. Heck, they could have licensed the use of either her "World Tennis" cover at age 4 or the "A Star is Born" cover from "Sports Illustrated", and even those would have made for a better cover shot.
 
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