At 17, she earns more money than any player in the National Football League -- very likely more than Joe Theismann, and the entire Redskin offensive line combined. But now the little girl inside Tracy Austin was bursting forth.
The rising princess of tennis was meeting the press after her easy first-round victory in the Colgate Series Championship when 20 yards away strolled by the fading queen, which is a popular description for Chris Evert Lloyd, two weeks past her 25th birthday.
Clearly flustered, Austin interrupted what she was saying to a dozen reporters and watched as Evert Lloyd waved and walked toward an exit.
"Don't whip me, Chris," the princess cooed.
"See you tomorrow," the queen replied.
Evert Lloyd, in a regal-looking, nearly floor-length fur coat, suddenly stopped and reversed herself, which still put her well out of Austin's path but hardly out of her mind.
Austin giggled, again and again, and said, "Wait till she goes."
Evert Lloyd left quickly -- and the press conference resumed. She returned last night, but across the net. And in that area Austin is infinitely more comfortable. The bashful teen all of a sudden becomes a mature tigress.
And the way she played and the way Evert Lloyd did not suggests that area now may be known as Tracy's Turf. It was sort of in-your-face-tennis, 6-1, 6-3, Austin blasting back harder every time Evert Lloyd made a comeback.
"Easy, huh?" said Austin's coach, Robert Lansdorp, winking, after her fifth victory in the last seven matches against Evert Lloyd, including the finals of the U.S. Open. "At least she made it look easy."
The seventh game of the second set was the essence of the match. The crowd was decidedly behind Evert Lloyd, not nasty though there was mild applause after one Austin double fault.
The ease with which Austin won the first set had everyone murmuring. But Evert Lloyd had broken her to gain a 3-3 tie and won the first two points of this seventh game, the last so decisively and familiarly that one man was inspired to yell:
"Yeah, that was Chris Evert!"
Hundred of others though so, too. There was an enthusiastic response, a sense that a memorable comeback might be at hand. If Evert Lloyd was saying "Can you top this?" with that backhand down the line, Austin immediately replied, "Yes, I can."
Austin won the next four points -- and walked off the court with momentum she would use to win all but two points in the last two games.
There was significant symbolism about Evert Lloyd versus Austin last night in the second round, about this entire tournament in fact. It mirrors how far women's professional tennis has come and where it seems headed.
When the pro women first came to town eight years ago, Billie Jean King, was the star, though still an obsure but fiery one. The tournament was held in a private club in Bethesda, capacity about 1,800.
It was a well-attended affair, in part because of a prodigy who had astonished tennis by reaching the semifinals at Forest Hills the year before -- at 16 -- and thrashing queen King a few months earlier.
Chris Evert was the Tracy Austin of that year . King was Evert Lloyd.
If the demure side of Austin is on display much of the time, the side that becomes giddy when Evert Lloyd comes near off the court, she does not hide her confident, steely side.
"The young lady attitude is replacing the young girl more and more," said Sara Kleppinger, her agent/lawyer/pal. "She's like having a little sister, the one I never had."
Austin volunteers the opinion that, having beaten Evert Lloyd so often of late, she ought to be ranked ahead of her. She is not.
"Are you No. 1?" she was asked after last night's victory.
"In what?" she said.
"In the United States."
"Yeah, I think so, if you don't include Martina."
She was not quite sure where to place Martina Navratilova, which certainly is understandable given such tennis logic as a tournment that ends the second week of 1980 deciding a 1979 championship.
The emerging, publicly confident Austin became clear when a reporter seemed close to falling asleep, his chin falling on his chest near the end of her Wednesday press session.
As she was walking past him, Austin smiled and asked, "Was it that boring?"