Another day at the office. Back to the White House. This time it's a tournament for Mrs. Reagan's Youth Drug Program. We raised about $400,000, and I talked to everyone from Michael Jordan to Tom Selleck to Mrs. Reagan herself. Also in attendance—although I didn't know she'd be there—was Tracy Austin.
She didn't play, just umpired. Tracy won two U.S. Opens by the time she was 19, but then she came down with sciatica. Except for a brief and abortive comeback, she really hasn't played since '82. Tracy was as gutty a player as I've ever seen, and it's obvious she has had a serious physical problem. But now it's also apparent that she doesn't seem to have the nerve to step back onto the court, or even admit she's scared. Tracy was always petrified of any physical problem.
Of course, I know that lots of people will take anything I say about Tracy with a grain of salt, because it's not exactly a secret that we never hit it off. Can you imagine the first words we ever uttered to each other? Well, it was the 12-and-unders in Savannah, and I was playing cards with a bunch of other players. Tracy walked up behind me, watching my every move. When I played a card, I heard this squeaky voice behind me say, "That was stupid." Her first words to me.
Instinctively, I shot back, "Shut up or I'll step on you." My first words to her. Through the years, that warm relationship deteriorated further. The culmination came when we played each other in Toronto in 1981. The chair overruled seven calls, five of them for Tracy. It got so ridiculous I actually lay down on the court after an overrule cost me a chance at a tiebreaker. When Tracy won and jumped in the air, I just couldn't take it. I came to the net to shake her hand and I called her a four-letter word. Then I threw in another four-letter word. She broke into tears. The incident made the front page of the paper.
So at the White House today, I'm introduced to the Secretary of State, and Mr. Schultz says, "It's nice to meet you, Pam. Did you hear that Tracy Austin's making a comeback?"
Well, I thought that was the introduction to a joke, like: Did you hear the one about the shaggy dog that...? So I said, "Hey, it seems to me I've heard that one a lot of times before." Sure enough, right behind me I hear this familiar voice say, "Oh, Shriver, you always needle me." Speak of the devil.
Tonight must have been my 200th goodby dinner at Mom and Dad's. It's a ritual before I take off for almost any tournament, and tomorrow I leave for France and England for six weeks. Hank will be with me the whole time, and Don will come over for Wimbledon. Also, my sister Marion is staying with me in Paris. We're not just sisters. We're great friends. I need some support in Paris, among all the male chauvinists.
The French Open is the rare tournament that provides free accommodations. Unfortunately, you have to stay at the Sofitel, which the players have nicknamed the Sofisteal because so many had valuables ripped off from their rooms in 1983. I've been lucky. The only time I was ever robbed was when Martina and I were playing an exhibition in San Antonio, and I caught this guy going through my bag in the locker room. I chased him, and a cop caught him. It turned out that about the only thing he'd stolen was our underwear. Actually, it was kind of flattering that somebody would want my underwear, but then I had to fill out the police report and put down: "Two Olga tan bras, size 34B, two size-seven beige panties...."
I didn't sleep well last night: terrible cold. The French Open has a reputation for germs, because it has 150 girls using a ladies' room that should only hold 50. I'm spoiled because all the other Grand Slam tournaments have a separate locker room for seeded players and past champions.