Tennis celebrity Austin, raised in a California family of tennis devotees (her physicist father was the worst player in the house), won her first national title at age 11. She made her Wimbledon debut at 14 and turned professional a year later, immediately picking up $2 million in endorsement fees. She won the Italian and U.S. opens at age 16 in 1979, was rated the best woman player in the world in 1980 and reclaimed the U.S. Open crown in 1981. But Austin began to be plagued with injuries, including pulled hamstrings and sciatica, and she sat out the years from 1984 to 1988, occasionally working as a TV commentator. A near-fatal auto accident in 1989 halted her comeback and left her with a weakened leg. Coauthored with Washington, D.C., sportswriter Brennan, this upbeat account of Austin's career and family life includes almost-candid reports about fellow players and celebrities. Austin strongly believes that her success as a teenager set a terrible precedent, as she sees tennis-mad parents pushing their children hard at earlier ages. Photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
This is the autobiography of a child prodigy in women's tennis who reached her pinnacle early in life only to fall victim to injury, accident, and circumstance. Austin tells of growing up in the world of tennis and joining the professional tour at the tender age of 15. Her story of entering an all-adult world at such an immature and naive time is interesting, but her insights into how the sport has changed in the last ten years with the overwhelming influx of prize money, television, and sponsorship are more worthwhile reading. Austin suffered many injuries after winning her second U.S. Open in 1981, then attempted a comeback only to be sidelined by an automobile accident. She is currently doing television and promotional work and again attempting to return to professional tennis. One can feel the urgency and anxiety of her second comeback attempt, and if she makes it her perspective on the new game of women's tennis will be fascinating. However, at this point in her life she does not have enough of interest to say to justify an autobiography.-- Melinda Stivers Leach, Precision Editoral Svcs., Wondervu, Col.