Tuesday’s a very special day at the Tennis Channel as one of our very own - Tracy Austin, a two-time Grand Slam champion and former World No.1, and now analyst - celebrates her birthday.
Austin was born on December 12, 1962, and it didn’t take her long to start breaking records. At Portland in 1977, she became the youngest player ever to win a WTA title at just 14 years and 28 days old (a record that stands to this day). In March of 1978 she became the first player under 16 years of age to reach the WTA’s Top 10 (and she’s still the third-youngest player ever to do it).
And the next year, at the 1979 US Open, at just 16 years old, she won her first Grand Slam title, taking out the two titans of women’s tennis at the time - Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert - back to back in the semifinals and final. Here’s the conclusion of her championship victory over Evert:
On April 7, 1980, Austin rose to No.1 in the world, and she would end up spending 21 career weeks at the top spot - two from April 7 to 20, and 19 more from July 7 to November 17. She remains the third-youngest player to reach No.1 in WTA history, and more impressively in more than 11 years between May 1976 and August 1987, she was the only player other than Evert and Navratilova to be No.1.
Austin won a second Grand Slam title at the US Open in 1981, rallying from a first set blowout and winning tie-breaks in the next two sets to edge Navratilova in the final - here’s the third set tie-break:
Austin’s career was cut short a few years later due to a series of unfortunate injuries, but she will always go down as one of the greats of the game - she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1992 and has now been a longtime commentator and analyst for Tennis Channel too.
And we at Tennis Channel would like to wish Tracy Austin a very, very Happy Birthday!