THE BUZZ: Known for her doubles prowess – 22 career Grand Slam doubles crowns in both women’s and mixed competition – Pam Shriver enjoyed her finest hour as a singles player in her very first Open appearance, defeating top-seeded Martina Navratilova, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3), in the semis to set up a final showdown with fellow American Chris Evert. As impressive as Shriver's run was, it was her racquet, made of 110 square inches of emerging tennis technology that had everyone talking.
THE IMPACT: Shriver’s Prince racquet was developed two years earlier by engineer Howard Head. An oversized aluminum racquet, it had a completely different look and feel compared to the smaller and heavier wood frames of the day. The Prince racquets soon became favored by many professional tennis players, who opted for the speed, strength and lightness of the weight of metal versus wood, which required comparatively more skill and player dexterity to handle.
"I was one of the first players to play with Prince on tour," said Shriver, who today works as a television analyst, in a recent interview with the racquet company. "We were sort of this group of pioneers, but as soon as other players saw what we could do with the ball, how the racquets were helping our game ... without question, it helped bring the brand into the tennis mainstream."
THE QUESTION: What was the first racquet you ever used in a match, and did you love it?