On Monday, former top-ranked tennis player Tracy Austin gave an interview to International Sports Examiner to talk about this year’s US Open and various tennis-related topics. Austin, now 52, won three Grand Slam titles, winning the women’s singles title at the US Open in 1979 and 1981, and the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon in 1980. She lives in southern California with husband Scott Holt and their three sons.
Marv Dumon: What are you most looking forward to in this year’s US Open?
Tracy Austin: I think the biggest story is whether Serena Williams will win the first calendar Grand Slam, which is a rare feat and difficult to achieve. (Steffi Graf last did it in 1988.) But Serena is a clear favorite to win this year’s US Open.
MD: What’s another big story at this year’s US Open?
TA: On the men’s side, I think the field is wide open. You have Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer–who might be the greatest tennis player of all-time, and Andy Murray who are all going to be competing.
MD: Can you share your insights on how the various playing surfaces are different?
TA: Playing on hard court is typically easier for players because you’re sure-footed. With clay, there are plenty of slides–and that takes a lot of getting used to. Clay is also a slower surface and the ball bounces differently. When you play on grass, you’re on an uneven surface. On grass, players have to deal with bad bounces, and the ball bounces lower.
MD: How do the different playing surfaces affect a player’s body?
TA: Your body can be more sore when playing on grass–you have to make more effort when the ball bounces lower. The toughest transition is from clay (French Open) to grass (Wimbledon). You see Serena Williams wear KT Tape (kinesiology tape) on her knees, and other players wearing it on their shoulder and forearms. It’s meant for pain relief and support, as well as, to take some pressure off your muscles.
Today’s tapes give players a full range of motion so they aren’t restricted. It’s different from the tapes used 15 to 20 years ago which restricted your motion.
MD: Do athletes wear KT Tape pre- or post-injury?
TA: In basketball, James Harden wears KT Tape. In volleyball, Kerri Walsh wears it. There are different reasons to wear it. Many athletes wear kinesiology tape to recover from injury–it’s a form of reassurance while you’re out playing. On the Web, there are instructions on how to apply the tape on various parts of the body, including the elbow for tennis. The tape provides support for common injuries affecting the legs, knees, ankles, back, shoulders, wrists and hands.
*Note: Marv Dumon interviewed Tracy Austin by phone on August 31, 2015.