Monday, April 08, 2019

Tracing Tennis History

Hard to believe it's been 39 years since Tracy Austin became the youngest female tennis player ever ranked No. 1 in the world, an incredible feat that remained a record until Martina Hingis clipped it by a few months in 1997. Ironically, both of their careers would be cut short by injuries -- Tracy's far more so than Martina's -- while most of their peers' would not. (Hingis's conqueror in the 1999 U.S. Open is some chick named Serena Williams and Pam Shriver didn't retire until 1997.) 

See? Priests aren't all bad! 

But how about this discovery?! As I've said a dozen times, people don't realize that many pros didn't religiously play all four majors back in the day the way they do now, yet another reason it's unfair to compare players from different eras. The year Tracy Austin ended Chris Evert's 125-match winning streak on clay at Foro Italico she didn't even play the French Open. (She won the U.S. Open over Chris later that summer, you might recall, so who knows what might have happened.) 

Another thing most people forget is that Tracy defeated Chris in the semifinals -- but still had to come back to play the final against Sylvia Hanika. It couldn't have been easy after that grueling three-set match decided by a tiebreak against the greatest clay courter of all time. But Tracy held her nerve to beat the tricky German lefthander, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 to become the youngest player to ever take the title.

Love this!

Such a shame Sylvia was blocked by her West German flag here.


Rix said...

ah the days when the guy's shorts where shorter than the gal's skirts.

demc7 said...

so right about playing the majors....Chris skipped the French 76-78, when she was in the middle of that 125 match streak. She skipped it to play World Team Tennis, which was more important to the game at that time than the French- she could easily have 10 French titles, since the 3 women who won in her absence never took a set off her on clay- Sue Baker, Mimi Jausavic and Virginia Ruzici...Chris skipped the French about 6-7 times in her career and the Australian 8-9 times. Martina Navratilova skipped both about the same amount (just flip- Aus 6-7 times and French 8-9 times) The Aussie used to be on grass- Martina could 2-3 more of those.... That's why I give Martina the GOAT Title- 167 TOTAL titles- #1 woman (and way ahead of any man. ) Hell- Serena would have to win nearly 100 more titles to pass Martina.