Friday, September 09, 2016

Tracy Austin Inducted Into the Court of Champions at the BJK National Tennis Center

Was so tickled/bummed when Damian noticed that Tracy Austin had just been inducted in the Court of Champions yesterday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Stadium. We had literally just stopped by on Labor Day night looking to see if she was in there so I could get a photo with her -- to kind of make up for not getting a pic with her when I met her when I was 14 at the 1981 tournament in Rancho Bernardo, Calif., en route to her second U.S. Open crown -- and I'd have loved to have been there for the ceremony. (On Monday night, I ended up posing between Chris and Steffi, who are my two other favorites after Trace.) 

So great that Chrissie Evert -- Tracy's victim in the 1979 final -- was there to do the honors, along with USTA president Katrina Adams.

Love that they used that great photo from her 1981 U.S. Open semifinal victory over Barbra Potter, where Tracy's wearing her Gunze line of clothing. The Ted Tingling dress may have been a lucky charm, but I always thought the outfits from her endorsement were the coolest, and I noticed Serena Williams even had a pleated skirt with contrasting colors on it last night that reminded me of Tracy's. 

More photos HERE.

People always want to put an asterisk next to Steffi Graf's 22 Grand Slam titles because of what happened to Monica Seles. I get this, and I get that it was an extraordinary set of circumstances. But things can happen to anyone at any time, so there's no guarantee Seles would have won 10 more as many claim. (Remember when it seemed Rafael Nadal would easily pass Roger Federer? Then he got injured and Novak Djokovic came along and look where we are now.) So if we really want to start editing the history books, perhaps Chris and Martina Navratilova should have asterisks next to their 18 majors to indicate that Tracy would have won many more if the fates hadn't been so cruel. Congrats, Tracy. You earned it!

From HERE.


Anonymous Tennis Fan said...

I think you're comparing apples to oranges. All the circumstances you pointed out were due to sports-related injuries. As you well know, Monica was stabbed. She was only 19, had won 8 of the last 9 Grand Slam tournaments she entered and had beaten Graf in 3 of their 4 Grand Slam final meetings.

Would she have won 10 more? Who knows? Graf had 11 when Monica when was stabbed. Would she have doubled that to 22 if the stabbing had not occurred? Who knows? That's the reason for the asterisk.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

I'm definitely comparing apples and oranges, but you have (inadvertently?) bolstered my oranges theory with this line:

>> "She was only 19 ..." <<

And how old was Tracy when her career was effectively over?

Monica was already injury prone at a young age -- she missed Wimbledon in 1991 with shin splints -- and continued to be plagued by them throughout her career.

Brent said...

I love Steffi as much as anyone but you're being a little ridiculous with this. There's no way she would've won 22 slams if Monica had been playing. She and Steffi had a serious rivalry, but the scales were tipped in Monica's favor. Monica usurped the #1 ranking and was winning everything. It's the very reason she got stabbed and her career cut short. There's no doubt she would've put a dent in Graf's overall Grand Slam haul if she hadn't been stabbed. As for her being injury prone, it's well known that Monica skipped Wimbledon in '91 because - like many - she never liked playing on grass and had no qualms about sitting out that year.

The comparison to Tracy and Chris/Martina is just not the same. Even at her peak, Tracy wasn't on the same level as the other two at the majors. Tracy won her two US Open titles in '79 and '81 but she lost to Chris in the '80 semifinals. She's more on par with Hana Mandlikova, a talented player who won a few Grand Slams, but is not a legend like Chris and Martina.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Brent: No one's saying it's unlikely Seles would have won more. But as we've seen with Rafael Nadal, there are no guarantees in tennis, no matter how dominant you are. But the point is players who win majors can only beat the players they face.

As for Tracy you're overlooking the fact that during her few good years she never competed in the French Open, so I don't see how you can say she "wasn't at the same level" as Chris and Martina at the majors. If clipping Chris's 125-match clay-court winning streak in Rome -- only to skip Paris -- doesn't persuade you, then I suppose nothing will. (Notice I don't assume she'd have won the French -- there's no way of knowing that, either.) The Australian also got moved to her best surface after she was long gone.

Sandy said...

Three things:

1. Monica was so quirky she very well may have won the Grand Slam in 1993 and then retired to Mar-a-Lago.

2. Monica might have won 30 more, or just a few more and then gotten injured.

3. Monica was healed by the summer of '93 but chose to not come back for two more years. While none of us can imagine the horror of what she went through, being a world-class athlete requires enormous physical and mental strength -- and she was unable to overcome the latter to the detriment of the former (eating disorder kicked in, etc.) This should not take away from the achievements of others who were going through their own physical and mental obstacles during this time and won matches.

Greg said...

Anyone aware of Austin's head-to-head record versus Evert and Navratilova -- especially '79-'81 -- knows how completely off base the Mandlikova comparison is.

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