Exclusive Q&A: Tennis legend Tracy Austin

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Tracy Austin, a former World No. 1 professional tennis player, captured 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 won the WTA Tour Championships in 1980 and the 1981 year end Toyota Championships, both in singles, before a series of injuries cut her career short.

We sat down briefly with the legend, who is in New York for the US Open and promoting KT Tape, to chat about this week's matches.

Q: You won three grand slam titles. How would you fare against Serena?

A: It is so hard to compare champions from different eras. I would have loved the challenge, but Serena is not done yet and I think she will probably go down in history as the greatest tennis player of all time.

Q: How much did it help that your entire family was so involved in tennis?

A: It was a huge help as my mother worked at a tennis club six days a week and all five kids were there all day and it was great exposure to the game. I found a passion for tennis early on. It also helped that my brothers and sister played on the tour before me and helped inspire me.

Q: Was the transition to being a commentator challenging?

A: One of my strengths as a player was strategy and how you have to adjust to different situations based on who you are playing and what the score is. As a commentator I get to use that strength in the broadcast booth in analyzing other people's games so it was actually a pretty smooth transition.

Q: What is your best memory?

A: Winning my second US Open title is a great memory as I was coming back from injury, and any time you can overcome obstacles it makes the achievement extra special. Also winning mixed doubles at Wimbledon with my brother was a great personal memory, to share that with a family member and with my whole family.

Q: Who were your role models?

A: Billie Jean is one of my role models for everything she represents and stands for. She was a champion on and off the court. It was really strange to beat an idol so I really had to focus on the ball and every point instead of who i was playing. I also admired Evonne Goolagong for her gracefulness on the court.

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Exclusive Q&A: Tennis legend Tracy Austin
Hall of famers, from left, Pam Shriver, Tracy Austin, Chris Evert and Monica Seles during the induction ceremony at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., Saturday, July 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Hall of Famers, back row from left, Rosie Casals, Charlie Pasarell, Bud Collins, Pam Shriver, Owen Davidson, Tracy Austin, Chris Evert, Jane Brown Grimes, Nick Bollettieri, Lindsay Davenport, John Barrett, Monica Seles, Vic Seixas, Peachy Kellmeyer and front row, Brad Parks, left, and Chantal Vandierendonck pose following the induction ceremony at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., Saturday, July 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Tracy Austin walks on the podium during the induction ceremony at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., Saturday, July 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Lindsay Davenport, right, hugs Tracy Austin, center, as Justin Gimelstob looks on during the induction ceremony at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., Saturday, July 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Former U.S. Open champions John McEnroe, left, Tracy Austin, center, and Guillermo Vilas greet each other during opening ceremonies at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Monday, August 25, 2008. Woman in back is unidentified. (AP Photos/Elise Amendola)
Putting their names in the bowl, left to right, are top-seeded tennis players Andrea Jaeger, Martina Navratilova, Pam Shriver, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, and Tracy Austin at a press conference at Madison Square Garden in New York on March 21, 1983. The names are going in the bowl for the player draw for the Virginia Slims Tennis Championships which will run from March 23 through March 27. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)
Tracy Austin goes for the ball during the U.S. Open Tennis Championship at Forest Hills, N.Y. Aug. 4, 1977. Tracy, 14, beat Britain's Sue Barker 6-1, 6-4. (AP Photo/Dave Pickoff)
Tracy Austin of Rolling Hill, Calif., returns the ball to Martina Navratilova during their semi-final match at the U.S. Open in Flushing, N.Y., Sept. 8, 1979. (AP Photo/Dave Pickoff)
Tracy Austin towels off after her loss to Evonne Cawley in the semifinals of Wimbledon on July 3, 1980. Tennis is unique in so many ways, none more so than the way it consumes its young, tempting them to turn pro at a time when perhaps they ought to be concerned with other things. Too often, it becomes a case of too much, too soon. (AP Photo)
Tracy Austin, 15, of the U.S., makes a return during women's single action against Martina Navratilova at the $125,000 Gunze World Tennis Tournament in Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 25, 1978. Austin whipped Navratilova, also of the U.S., 6-1, 6-1, and won the women's singles title. (AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara)
Tracy Austin of Rolling Hills, Calif. meets the ball at the net during her match against Alycia Moulton of Sacramento, Calif., at the 61st annual USTA Girls' 18 Tennis Championships in Philadelphia, Pa., Aug. 18, 1978. Austin beat Moulton 6-1, 6-3. (AP Photo/Bill Ingraham)
Tracy Austin of Rolling Hills, Calif., makes a forehand smash return to her opponent Alycia Moulton at the 61st annual USTA Girls' 18 Tennis Championships in Philadelphia, Pa., Aug. 18, 1978. Austin beat Moulton 6-1, 6-3. (AP Photo/Bill Ingraham)
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