In 1983, Denise married sports attorney Jeff Austin, brother of US Open champion Tracy Austin. Denise and Jeff have two daughters, Kelly (b. 1990) and Katie (b. 1993). The Austin family resides in Alexandria, Virginia.
Austin initially attended the University of Arizona on a gymnastics scholarship, reaching the rank of No. 9 in the NCAA on balance beam. She later transferred to California State University, Long Beach, graduating with a bachelor's degree in physical education, and a minor in exercise physiology.