No.1 Spotlight: Tracy Austin
Published April 18, 2013 12:00
Tracy Austin was the original tennis prodigy. As a 4-year-old, she was adorning the cover of World Tennis. At 14, she had won her first tournament, and two years later she wrote her name in the history books by becoming the youngest ever US Open champion.
The youngest of a tennis-mad California family, Austin's blonde hair and two-handed backhand drew obvious comparisons with Chris Evert. It was against Evert that Austin captured that first US Open title and the two, along with Martina Navratilova, tussled for dominance for much of the early 1980s.
However, back and neck injuries cruelly cut short both the rivalry and Austin's career. By that time, the American had already bagged 30 titles - including a second US Open in 1981 - as well as wrestling the coveted World No.1 spot away from her two great adversaries.
• First player to win title in singles debut at 1977 Portland, where she was the WTA's youngest ever singles champion (14 years, 28 days). Finished career with 30 singles titles
• Ended Chris Evert's 125-match winning streak on clay at 1979 Italian Open
• Rose to No.1 as 17-year-old on April 7, 1980 after defeating Martina Navratilova to win 1980 Avon Championships; at time was youngest-ever No.1 (since passed by Marina Hingis, Monica Seles)
• Her 10 games conceded en route to title in San Diego in 1980 is second-least for a 32-58-size draw champion
• Only player to defeat Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova back-to-back in the same tournament four times
• Finished career with nine wins over World No.1s
• Won five doubles titles and one mixed doubles title - Wimbledon in 1980 with John Austin, making them the first title-winning, brother-sister duo
• Won the WTA's Most Impressive Newcomer Of The Year Award in 1977
• Won the WTA's Player Of The Year Award in 1980
• Inducted into International Tennis Hall of Fame in July 1992 at age 29 (youngest-ever inductee)
• Has had annual charity pro/celebrity event for underprivileged children since 1978