Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tracy Austin

Tracy Ann Austin Holt (born December 12, 1962, in Palos Verdes, California) is a former World No. 1 female professional tennis player from the United States who won the women's singles title at the US Open in 1979 and 1981 and the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon in 1980, before a series of injuries cut her career short. Austin defeated 35-year-old Billie Jean King in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 1979 6–4, 6–7, 6–2 before losing to Martina Navrátilová in straight sets in the semifinals. Austin then became the youngest ever US Open champion, aged 16 years and 9 months. In the final, she faced Chris Evert who was bidding to win the title for the fifth consecutive year: Austin won the match 6–4, 6–3. Earlier that year, Austin had ended Evert's 125-match winning streak on clay by beating her in three sets in a semifinal of the Italian Open. Austin lost in the semifinals of both Grand Slam tournaments she played in 1980. Evonne Goolagong Cawley, seeded fourth and the eventual champion, defeated Austin 6–3, 0–6, 6–4 at Wimbledon. As the top seed and defending champion at the US Open, Austin was expected to extend her five-match winning streak against third-ranked Evert. Austin raced to a 4–0 lead in the first set before Evert won 16 of the final 20 games to take the match 4–6, 6–1, 6–1. Evert went on to beat Hana Mandlíková in the final, thus securing for herself the year-ending World No. 1 ranking. Austin was ranked the World No. 1 singles player at times during 1980/81, partly because she captured the two sponsors' tour-ending events, defeating Navrátilová to win the Avon Championships in March and Andrea Jaeger to capture the Colgate Series Championships in January 1981. In 1980, Austin won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title with her brother John.

Chris Evert vs. Tracy Austin: Famous 1980 US Open semifinal!

During the first four months of 1981, Austin played only two events because of chronic injuries. On grass, she won the tournament in Eastbourne, United Kingdom without losing a set before Pam Shriver beat her in a Wimbledon quarterfinal 7–5, 6–4. Austin then won 26 consecutive matches and four consecutive tournaments. She defeated Shriver in the final of the tournament in San Diego and, three weeks later, she beat both Navrátilová and Evert in straight sets to win the Canadian Open in Toronto. As the third-seeded player at the US Open, Austin defeated fourth-seeded Navrátilová in the final 1–6, 7–6(4), 7–6(1). Navrátilová, however, ended Austin's winning streak in the final of the U.S. Indoor Championships. In Europe during the autumn, Austin lost to Sue Barker in the quarterfinals of the tournament in Brighton, United Kingdom but recovered the following week to defeat Navrátilová in the final of the tournament in Stuttgart, West Germany. Austin was the first opponent of Steffi Graf when the German made her professional debut at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart in 1982. Austin defeated the 13-year-old Graf 6–4, 6–0. At the final Grand Slam tournament of the year, Austin was seeded second but lost to sixth-seeded Shriver in the Australian Open quarterfinals 7–5, 7–6. The year-ending Toyota Series Championships featured two matches against Evert and one against Navrátilová. Evert won her round robin match with Austin 4–6, 6–4, 7–6 before Austin won their semifinal 6–1, 6–2, with Evert blaming the loss on exhaustion. Austin then won the tournament with a three-set defeat of Navrátilová. Back injuries and recurring sciatica then began to impair Austin's effectiveness and sidelined her for long stretches. King, seeded twelfth, upset third-seeded Austin in the 1982 Wimbledon quarterfinals 3–6, 6–4, 6–2. Several weeks later, however, Austin won her 30th and final top-level singles title in San Diego. Austin's last good showing at a major event was at the 1982 season-ending Toyota Series Championships where she defeated Jaeger, the World No. 3, in straight sets to reach the semifinals. However, she was unable to repeat the previous year's victory over Evert, who defeated Austin 6–0, 6–0 in less than 50 minutes. By 1983, before her 21st birthday, Austin was virtually finished as a top ten player.

Austin began her first comeback on the tour in 1988 when she played in seven doubles tournaments and 1989 when she played in one doubles and two singles tournaments. This comeback was ended by a near-fatal motor vehicle accident. She attempted a second comeback in 1993 and 1994 but was not particularly successful: in July 1994 she retired from professional tennis. (In 1994 at the Evert Cup in Indian Wells, California Austin, in the middle of her comeback, played Graf, who was World No. 1 at the time. This proved to be a lopsided encounter with Graf blanking Austin 6–0, 6–0.) In 1992, Austin became the youngest person to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Tracy's older sister, Pam, and her older brother, Jeff, were also professional tennis players, as were brothers Doug and John. She is the sister-in-law of fitness author Denise Austin. She is married to Scott Holt and is the mother of three sons. Since retiring as a player, Austin has worked frequently as a commentator for NBC and the USA Network. She worked for the Seven Network at the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 Australian Opens and usually participates in the BBC's Wimbledon coverage. She began working for Tennis Channel in 2010 and joined their US Open team. Austin also worked for CBC Sports for their coverage of the 2009 Rogers Cup.

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