Former Top 10 star Barbara Schett-Eagle’s special contribution to the sport of tennis was recognized in her homeland earlier this month when she received the prestigious Sports Life Award Austria at a Gala Night of Sports held in the city of Linz.
During her playing days, Schett rose as high as No.7 on the WTA Rankings and won three singles titles, as well as 10 doubles crowns. Other highlights included reaching the quarterfinals at the US Open and the WTA Finals in 1999 and the Sydney Olympics in 2000; she also compiled a 30-18 record representing Austria at Fed Cup.
Since hanging up her racquet after the Australian Open in 2005, the popular ‘Babsi’ has won a new generation of fans as a respected commentator and presenter for Eurosport, covering the Grand Slams and co-hosting the Game, Schett & Mats program alongside Swedish great Mats Wilander.
“This is the first award I’ve received, not as an active, competitive athlete,” Schett told news outlet Oberösterreichische Nachrichten of the accolade, which was presented by her friend and Eurosport colleague Henri Leconte. “It's been 15 years since I ended my playing career and it's nice to be recognized in your own country for what you have done in your second career, so to speak.”
The glamourous evening at the Brucknerhaus, which was attended by luminaries from sport, entertainment and politics also provided an opportunity to celebrate Innsbruck-born Schett’s connection to the Upper Austria Ladies Linz tournament, which will celebrate its 30th staging in October. Schett is a longstanding legend ambassador and media host for the successful WTA event.
"I am pleased that Babsi is also so successful in her second career and is a great ambassador for the No.1 global sport for women, via Eurosport," said tournament director Sandra Reichel.
"For me personally, the tournament in Linz has a very special status," noted Schett. "I got one of my very first wildcards here in 1992, reached my first WTA semi-final in 1994, beat a former Top 10 player for the first time and celebrated my farewell in 2004. It was one of the most beautiful days of my life that Sandra organized for me – with all my friends and my family. Linz stays in my heart forever!”
After receiving her award in Linz, Schett journeyed south to the city of Graz where she spent time practicing and sharing her insights and encouragement with girls training at the regional Styrian Tennis Federation.