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BEYOND CENTER COURT: My Story by Tracy with Christine Brennan Austin



Pub Date: Aug. 17th, 1992
Publisher: Morrow

Strikingly bland memoirs from the former teen tennis-phenom. Sports Illustrated cover story at 13, professional at 15, US Open champ at 16, top-seeded in the world and a millionaire at 17, and forced by injuries into retirement at 21, Austin (with the assistance of sportswriter Brennan) here turns a potentially fascinating tale of early fame and loss into a dull, albeit likable, autobiography. Irritated by misperceptions of her meteoric rise, Austin takes pains to separate herself from today's adolescent superstars. The youngest of five tennis-mad siblings, she never received any parental pressure, resisted turning pro until she had outgrown the amateur ranks, and insisted on finishing high school as normally as possible, even if it meant missing the Australian and French Opens until after graduation. Furthermore, she stresses, contrary to rumor, she did not ""burn out,"" but fell victim to a series of back, leg, and foot injuries, capped by a leg-shattering car accident in 1989 on the eve of a long-planned comeback. Today, ""beyond center court,"" she mainly still plays tennis (with income from numerous exhibitions as well as TV, motivational-speaking, and endorsement contracts providing ""a very nice living""). Here, Austin concentrates mostly on saying nice things about people--primarily former opponents and current players, but also old boyfriends and the various celebrities she has met--although a glint of malice shows up now and then (e.g., regarding Para Shriver, who criticized Austin in her own book: ""I beat Para nine times in a row in age-group competition...I bugged her""). Lacking is any perspective on the ""intensity and concentration"" that propelled Austin to the top or on the consequences of being ""finished"" when most people are just starting. A weak net-ball of a book, best reserved for tennis fanatics looking for something to thumb through during changeovers.