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As always, her mother, Jeanne, was nearby, fixing dinner in the kitchen of the three-bedroom house on Dunwood Road, where she and Tracy's father, George, a nuclear physicist for TRW, have lived for 25 years and raised their five children. Tracy, the youngest of the Austin siblings by five years, is the only one still living at home.
Jeanne and Kleppinger are the core of Tracy's support system. Backing them up are a coach—for 10 years it was Robert Landsdorp; then Roy Emerson and Landsdorp split the job; now it's Marty Riessen—and Tracy's brother Jeff, 30, who played professionally until four years ago and is a lawyer. Tracy works out with Jeff whenever she can and frequently turns to him for advice. Brother John, 24, is on the tour and is ranked 64th in the world. He and Tracy won the mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 1980.
Because all the Austin children are skilled tennis players and because they all have had to fight for their share of their mother's attention, buried family resentments have erupted now and then. But the Austins are nonetheless a strong and loving family, and to the world at large they present a united, loyal and affectionate face. "She's getting a lot nicer," says Pam Austin Reynolds, 31, Tracy's only sister, "and that's great. She's growing up. She's a little more considerate of other people, which is nice to see."
Pam competed on the circuit in the early '70s, a time when the life of a touring pro was primitive compared with the one Tracy leads. "You shared a room with your doubles partner, kept your suitcase under your bed and had a toilet down the hall," says Pam. "My main goal was traveling and having a good time. Tracy's goal is to be No. 1. She's very competitive, more so than the rest of us. Even when she was little her concentration was keen. You know that game, Concentration, in which the cards are all face down and you have to remember where they are? Tracy would beat us every time. She lost maybe once in a hundred games."
"She's more willing to make decisions now," says Jeff. "Her attitude used to be, 'I'm just a kid, let someone else decide.' On the court she looks the same. Off the court she's different in the way she dresses, the way she carries herself."
Austin's first tournament following her convalescence was an eight-woman event last May in Tokyo. After losing to Andrea Jaeger in a third-set tiebreaker in the finals, she learned that she wasn't yet out of the woods. Her celebrated concentration had wavered in the tiebreaker. The next week in Berlin she lost, also in a third-set tiebreaker, to 29th-ranked Sandy Collins. At Eastbourne, though, the week before Wimbledon, she sailed through to the final, where she whipped Jaeger 6-3, 6-4.
"The toughest part was Wimbledon," says Austin. "I felt rushed to prepare. I needed two or three months, and all I had was five days to practice the way I wanted. I was used to going in feeling confident, but I was trying too hard, putting pressure on myself."
In the midst of Austin's physical or-deal, Lansdorp, her coach and companion since she was seven, the man who had developed her game, added to her troubles by walking out during negotiations and filing a breach-of-contract suit against Tracy Austin Enterprises. Jeanne learned about the suit, which has since been settled out of court, when a Los Angeles Times reporter called her for a comment. "Robert made an unbelievable amount of money off Tracy last year," says Jeanne. "We were negotiating his new contract in March and he wanted more." By the time Tracy was ready for tournament play again in May, Jeanne had hired Riessen, and it was with him that Austin worked those last days before Wimbledon.
Austin lost in the Wimbledon quarters to Shriver, but five weeks later she beat Shriver in three sets to win the Wells Fargo Open in San Diego. At the Canadian Open in August, now really smoking, she defeated Shriver, Navratilova and Evert Lloyd, all in straight sets. The night after the final, Kleppinger phoned from Washington and Austin said, "Sara, I'm back! And that's no pun!"
During the Canadian, a few players, keyed up for the U.S. Open, which was only one week off, unleashed a barrage of temper tantrums that rivaled the men at their boorish worst. Hana Mandlikova gave the finger to a line judge who had called her for foot-faulting; Bettina Bunge walked off the court at 0-5 in a third set; and Shriver, rightfully frustrated by some lousy officiating in her quarterfinal match against Austin, wrongfully directed a stream of obscenities at her opponent for being overly exultant in victory. Ahead 6-2, 6-5, Austin hit a shot the linesman called out. But for the sixth time in the match, the umpire overruled. Undone, Shriver lost the next two points and the match, whereupon Austin smiled, smacked a ball high into the crowd and threw up her arms.