By Nicholas J. Walz, USOpen.org
THE BUZZ: In the last US Open to be played at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, an undersized, pig-tailed 14-year-old named Tracy Austin upset 1976 French Open champion Sue Barker in the third round, 6-1, 6-4, en route to reaching the women’s singles semifinals.
THE IMPACT: It was Austin and fellow debuting American John McEnroe who created a tremendous stir in the Open’s first week, as the latter also reached the round of 16. Austin would continue to improve into her teens, reaching No. 1 in 1980 and claiming her two career Grand Slam titles in New York in 1979 and 1981. The 21-year-old Barker, today enjoying a second career as a host for the British Broadcasting Company in her native England, would play in 17 more Grand Slam tournaments, only once advancing past the semifinal round (1977 Australian Open).
Soon after her dazzling debut, Austin would become a household name, including at the White House. During this Open run, President Jimmy Carter put in a call to the future champ on the eve of her quarterfinal showdown with fifth-seeded Dutchwoman Betty Stöve. "When they told me in the locker room that he was on the phone, I thought it was a joke," Austin recalled in a 2007 interview with ESPN. "I'm sure I said a maximum of seven words."
THE QUESTION: Where were you playing tennis when you were 14 years of age?