Ahead of her induction into the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame, former WTA World No.1 Tracy Austin gave her thoughts on some of the biggest surprises of the 2017 season, plus her insight on the importance of patience as juniors transition onto the pro tour.
WTA Insider David Kane
July 28, 2017

Tracy Austin burst onto the scene in the late 1970s, winning two US Open titles in three years and captured the 1981 Rogers Cup in her debut appearance - all before her 20th birthday.

Set to be inducted into the tournament's Hall of Fame, it came as no surprise, then, that the former WTA World No.1 was quick to tag 20-year-old Jelena Ostapenko's run to the Roland Garros title as the most impressive result of the season.


"There’s so many different adjectives you can use to describe the women’s side," she said during a conference call on Friday, "but most impressive would have to be Ostapenko winning her first title ever. We’re talking about, no Internationals or Premiers, and suddenly she wins the French Open.

"The way that she was down and battled back, winning three or four of her matches in three sets. She was down a set and 3-0 down in the final. That was very impressive, and she’s had decent results since then."

Ostapenko went on to reach the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, becoming the first maiden major champion to reach the quarterfinals at her next Slam appearance since Kim Clijsters in 2006.

"We’ve seen so many players have a great breakout event and then not be able to handle the pressure."

Austin went on to praise Wimbledon winner Garbiñe Muguruza, who fought past 37-year-old Venus Williams to take home her second major title - and first title of any kind since winning the French Open last spring.

"Garbiñe Muguruza hadn’t been back to a final at any tournament after winning the French Open last year, and now here she is, winning Wimbledon. When she’s on, she’s really on."

Heading into the North American summer hardcourt swing, the longtime commentator wondered how the field would react to returning former No.1s Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, who receieved a wildcard into Toronto's main draw.


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"It’s just a really interesting time for women’s tennis. I’m looking forward to seeing Sharapova playing again; the Rogers Cup is fortunate to have her back. Victoria Azarenka is back, as well. There’s some real opportunity with Serena out.

"Azarenka played a good Wimbledon; I think it’s tough to start playing again on grass, because it’s an awkward surface anyway. But it was smart for her to get the press out of the way, get a few months of playing under her belt ahead of the hardcourts. So I expect big things from her. Sharapova played some terrific tennis after being out for 15 months. She’s very fit, and so I would expect her to be a real force."

Asked about rising Canadian stars like Francoise Abanda - who pushed Ostapenko to three sets at Wimbledon - and Bianca Andreescu, Austin preached patience when it came to the next generation.

"I think it’s a great way for players to think longterm, because they can recognize that, if you want, with the way that players are taking care of their bodies with trainers and physios, and that the recovery is so much better, that a player’s career can go well into her 30s. I think it takes a bit of pressure off, not feeling the need to be successful right away.

"Often times, the press - be it the America, British, Canadian press - they want to see that success right away. But I think we should all take a deep breath and realize that to get to the Top 100 in the world is very, very difficult. There are so many players vying for the same spots. With that longevity of players, they’re not even asked about retirement anymore; before, players would be asked about retirement at 28. Venus just got to the finals of Wimbledon at 37. There’s the same number of spots in the Top 100, but more players are vying for them.

"For some juniors who are so successful and used to holding up trophies at the end of the week, suddenly losing on Monday or Tuesday can be a hit on their confidence. It’s really important that they can start having success at every level, make sure they don't take too many wildcards at a level that’s above where they can handle, and realize that it might be a slow process because it’s a difficult journey."
Tracy Austin

"It’s difficult, but I’m hoping it’ll relieve some of the pressure on young players coming up, and stop them from feeling like they need that instant success. Some players need more time to mature emotionally, while others, physically. Sometimes, their game needs to catch up; not everyone has all of the elements of the game come together at a young age.

"The key is, for some juniors who are so successful and used to winning, holding up trophies at the end of the week, making that transition and suddenly losing on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. That can cause their confidence to take a hit. It’s really important that they can start having success at every level, make sure that their win/loss ratio stays high, meaning, don’t take too many wildcards at a level that’s above where they can handle, and realize that it might be a slow process because it’s a difficult journey."

Austin will be inducted into the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame on August 11, in a special Centre Court ceremony to be held at Aviva Centre.