Steffi Graf

Steffi Graf

Infobox Tennis player
bgcolour = gold
playername = Steffi Graf

country = GER [Before the German reunification, she played for West Germany]
residence = Las Vegas, Nevada
datebirth = birth date and age|mf=yes|1969|6|14
placebirth = Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany
height = convert|1.76|m|ftin
weight = convert|64|kg|lb
turnedpro = 1982
retired= 1999
plays = Right; One-handed backhand
careerprizemoney = US$21,895,277
(2nd in all-time rankings)
singlesrecord = 900–115
singlestitles = 107
(3rd in all-time rankings)
highestsinglesranking = No. 1 (August 17, 1987)
AustralianOpenresult = W (1988, 1989, 1990, 1994)
FrenchOpenresult = W (1987, 1988, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1999)
Wimbledonresult = W (1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996)
USOpenresult = W (1988, 1989, 1993, 1995, 1996)
Othertournaments = Yes
WTAChampionshipsresult = W (1987, 1989, 1993, 1995, 1996)
Olympicsresult = )
doublesrecord = 173–72
doublestitles = 11
highestdoublesranking = No. 5 (November 21, 1988)
updated = N/A

Stefanie Maria Graf (born June 14, 1969, in Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany) is a former World No. 1 ranked female tennis player from Germany. She is widely considered to be one of the greatest female tennis players in history. For example, Billie Jean King said in 1999, "Steffi is definitely the greatest women's tennis player of all time." [ [ ON TENNIS; Graf Is Best, Right? Just Don't Ask Her] ] Martina Navratilova has included Graf on her list of great players. [ [ ON TENNIS; Graf Is Best, Right? Just Don't Ask Her] ] In December 1999, Graf was named the greatest female tennis player of the 20th century by a panel of experts assembled by The Associated Press. [cite web |url= |publisher="" |title=Tennis Players of the Century. |accessdate=2007-04-24] Tennis writer Steve Flink, in his book "The Greatest Tennis Matches of the Twentieth Century", named her as the best female player of the 20th century. [cite web |url= |publisher="" |title=Exclusive Interview with Steve Flink about the career of Chris Evert |accessdate=2007-04-23]

Graf won 22 Grand Slam singles titles, second among male and female players only to Margaret Court's 24. Graf is the only player to have won all four Grand Slam singles tournaments (Wimbledon, the US Open, the French Open, and the Australian Open) at least four times each. In 1988, Graf won the Olympic gold medal in singles and all four Grand Slam singles titles that year, becoming the first and only player to win the "Golden Slam."

Graf was ranked by the Women's Tennis Association as World No. 1 for a record 377 total weeks — the longest of any player, male or female, since rankings began — and Graf also holds the record (eight) for most years as year end World No. 1. [ [ Steffi Graf] ] Graf won 107 singles titles, which ranks her third on the list of most singles titles won during the open era, behind Martina Navratilova (167 titles) and Chris Evert (154 titles).

A notable feature of Graf's game was her versatility across all playing surfaces. She won six French Open singles titles (second to Evert) and seven Wimbledon singles titles (third behind Navratilova and Helen Wills Moody). She is the only singles player to have achieved a Calendar Year Grand Slam across all three types of tennis courts, as the other Calendar Year Grand Slams won by other players occurred when the Australian and US Opens were still played on grass. Graf reached thirteen consecutive Grand Slam singles finals, from the French Open in 1987 through the French Open in 1990, winning nine of them. She played in 36 Grand Slam singles tournaments from the 1987 French Open through the 1996 US Open, reaching the finals 29 times and winning 21 titles. Her 22nd and last Grand Slam title was the 1999 French Open. She reached 31 Grand Slam singles finals, third overall behind Evert (34 finals) and Navratilova (32 finals).Fact|date=July 2007

Graf retired in 1999 while she was ranked World No. 3. She is married to the former World No. 1 men's tennis player Andre Agassi.


Early career

Steffi was introduced to tennis by her father Peter Graf, a car and insurance salesman and aspiring tennis coach, who taught his three-year-old daughter how to swing a wooden racket in the family's living room. She began practicing on a court at the age of four and played in her first tournament at five. She soon began winning junior tournaments with regularity, and in 1982 she won the European Championships 12s and 18s.

Graf played in her first professional tournament in October 1982 at Stuttgart, Germany. She lost her first round match 6–4, 6–0 to Tracy Austin, a two-time US Open champion and former World No. 1 player. Austin remarked of the then-thirteen year old Graf that "there are hundreds of girls like her in America." Twelve years later, Graf defeated Austin 6–0, 6–0 during a second round match at the Evert Cup in Indian Wells, California, which was their second and last match against each other.

At the start of her first full professional season in 1983, the 13-year-old Graf was ranked World No. 124. She won no titles during the next three years, but her ranking climbed steadily to World No. 98 in 1983, World No. 22 in 1984, and World No. 6 in 1985. In 1984, she first gained international attention when she almost upset the tenth seed, Jo Durie of the United Kingdom, in a fourth round Centre Court match at Wimbledon. In August as a 15-year-old (and youngest entrant) representing West Germany, she won the tennis demonstration event at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. []

Graf's schedule was closely controlled by her father, Peter Graf, who limited her play so that she would not burn out. In 1985, for instance, she played only 10 events leading up to the US Open, whereas another up-and-coming star, Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina, who was a year younger than Graf, played 21. Peter also kept a tight rein on Graf's personal life. Social invitations on the tour were often declined as Graf's focus was kept on practising and match play. Working with her father and then-coach Pavel Slozil, Graf typically practiced for up to four hours a day, often heading straight from airports to practice courts. This narrow focus meant that Graf, already shy and retiring by nature, made few friends on the tour in her early years, but it led to a steady improvement in her play.

1985 and early 1986 saw her emerge as the top challenger to the dominance of Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. During that period, she lost six times to Evert and three times to Navratilova, all in straight sets. She did not win a tournament but consistently reached tournament finals and semifinals, with the highlight being her semifinal loss to Navratilova at the U.S Open.

On April 13, 1986, Graf won her first WTA tournament and beat Evert for the first time in the final of the Family Circle Cup in Hilton Head, South Carolina. She never lost to Evert again, beating her a further seven times over the next three and a half years. She then won her next three tournaments at Amelia Island, Charleston, and Berlin, culminating in a 6–2, 6–3 defeat of Navratilova in the final of the latter. At the French Open, Graf was the third seed but was seen by many as the tournament favorite. However, she caught a virus and lost to Hana Mandlikova in the quarterfinals 2–6, 7–6, 6–1. The illness caused her to miss Wimbledon, and an accident where she broke a toe several weeks later also curtailed her momentum. She returned to win a small tournament at Mahwah just before the US Open where, in one of the most anticipated matches of the year, she encountered Navratilova in a semifinal. The match was played over two days with Navratilova finally winning after saving three match points 6–1, 6–7, 7–6. Graf then won three consecutive indoor titles at Tokyo, Zurich, and Brighton, before once again contending with Navratilova at the season-ending Virginia Slims Championships in New York City. This time, Navratilova beat Graf easily 7–6, 6–3, 6–2.

Breakthrough year: 1987

Graf's Grand Slam breakthrough came in 1987. She started the year strongly, with six tournament victories heading into the French Open, the highlight being at the tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida, where she defeated Martina Navratilova in a semifinal and Chris Evert in the final and conceded only 20 games in the seven rounds of the tournament. In the French Open final, Graf defeated Navratilova, who was the World No. 1, 6–4, 4–6, 8–6 after beating Gabriela Sabatini in a three-set semifinal.

Graf then lost to Navratilova 7–5, 6–3 in the Wimbledon final, her first loss of the year. However, in the Federation Cup final in Vancouver, Canada, three weeks later, she defeated Evert easily 6–2, 6–1. The US Open ended anti-climactically as Navratilova defeated Graf in the final 7–6, 6–1.

Because Graf had lost to Navratilova in two of three Grand Slam finals in 1987 but had a superior record elsewhere (ten titles to Navratilova's four), the Virginia Slam Championships in November was expected to decide the World No. 1 for the year. Navratilova, however, was upset by Sabatini in the quarterfinals, and when Graf defeated Sabatini in the final, she clinched the top ranking in the eyes of most observers, finishing the year with a 74-2 match record.

"Golden Slam": 1988

Graf started 1988 by winning the Australian Open, defeating Chris Evert in the final 6–1, 7–6. Graf did not lose a set during the tournament and lost a total of only 29 games.

Graf lost twice to Gabriela Sabatini during the spring, once on hardcourts in Boca Raton, Florida and once on clay at Amelia Island, Florida. Graf, however, won the tournament in [ San Antonio, Texas] and retained her title in Key Biscayne, Florida, where she once again defeated Evert in the final. Graf then won the tournament in Berlin, losing only twelve games in five matches.

At the French Open, Graf successfully defended her title by routing Natalia Zvereva 6–0, 6–0 in a 32-minute final. That was only the second-ever double bagel in a Grand Slam final, the other being in 1911. Zvereva, who had eliminated Martina Navratilova in the fourth round, won only thirteen points in the match.Fact|date=October 2007 Graf lost a mere twenty games in the tournament, setting a record for the French Open in the open era.Fact|date=October 2007

Next came Wimbledon, where Navratilova had won six straight titles. Graf was trailing Navratilova in the final 7–5, 2–0 before winning the match 5–7, 6–2, 6–1. She then won tournaments in Hamburg and Mahwah (where she lost only eight games all tournament).

At the US Open, Graf defeated Sabatini in a three-set final to win the Calendar Year Grand Slam, a feat previously performed by only two other women, Maureen Connolly Brinker in 1953 and Margaret Court in 1970.

Graf then defeated Sabatini 6–3, 6–3 in the gold medal match at the Olympic Games in Seoul and achieved what the media had dubbed the "Golden Slam".

Graf also won her only Grand Slam doubles title that year — at Wimbledon partnering Sabatini — and picked up a women's doubles Olympic bronze medal.

At the year-ending Virginia Slims Championships, Graf was upset by Pam Shriver, only her third loss of the year. She was named the 1988 BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year.

New challengers and personal challenges


Speculation was rife at the beginning of 1989 about the possibility of Graf winning another Grand Slam. Some noted observers, such as Margaret Court, suggested that Graf could achieve the feat a couple more times. And the year began as expected, with Graf extending her Grand Slam winning streak to five events at the Australian Open, defeating Helena Sukova in the final. Her 6–3, 6–0 defeat of Gabriela Sabatini in a semifinal was described by veteran observer Ted Tinling as "probably the best tennis I've seen". ["Australian Tennis", March, 1989, p. 28]

Graf followed this with easy victories in her next four tournaments at [ Washington, D.C.] ] , [ San Antonio, Texas] , [ Boca Raton, Florida] , and Hilton Head, South Carolina. The Washington, D.C. tournament was notable because Graf won the first twenty points of the final against Zina Garrison. [ [ Graf Trounces Garrison] ] In the Boca Raton final, Graf lost the only set she conceded to Chris Evert in their final seven matches. [ [ Head to Head] ]

In the subsequent Amelia Island final on clay, Graf lost her first match of the year to Sabatini but returned to European clay with easy victories at Hamburg and Berlin.

Graf's Grand Slam winning streak ended at the French Open, where 17-year-old Spaniard Arantxa Sanchez Vicario beat Graf in three sets. Graf served for the match at 5–3 in the third set but lost the game at love and won only three more points in the match. She had struggled to beat Monica Seles in their semifinal 6–3, 3–6, 6–3 after being affected by food-poisoning the day before that match.Fact|date=October 2008

Graf, however, recovered to defeat Martina Navratilova 6–2, 6–7, 6–1 in the Wimbledon final after defeating Seles 6–0, 6–1 in a fourth round match, Sanchez Vicario in a quarterfinal, and Chris Evert in a semifinal.

Graf warmed up for the US Open with easy tournament victories in San Diego and Mahwah. In her semifinal match at the US Open, Graf defeated Sabatini 3–6, 6–4, 6–2. In the final, Navratilova led 6–3, 4–2 before Graf rallied to win 3–6, 7–5, 6–1 for her third Grand Slam singles title of the year.

Victories at Zurich and Brighton preceded the Virginia Slims Championships, where Graf cemented her top-ranked status by beating Navratilova in the final 6–4, 7–5, 2–6, 6–2. Graf ended 1989 with an 86-2 match record and the loss of only twelve sets.


Graf defeated Mary Joe Fernandez in the final of the Australian Open, which was her eighth Grand Slam singles title in the last nine she contested. Her winning streak (unbeaten since the 1989 French Open loss to Arantxa Sanchez Vicario) continued with victories in Tokyo, Amelia Island, and Hamburg. In Berlin, she extended her unbeaten streak to 66 matches (second in WTA history to Martina Navratilova's 74) before losing the final to Monica Seles.

While the Berlin tournament was being played, the largest-circulation German tabloid, "Bild", ran a story about Graf's father allegedly having an affair with a former Playboy model. The subsequent paternity suit brought by the model, Nicole Meissner, was covered extensively in the tabloids for the next two months. The difficulty of answering questions about the matter came to a head at a Wimbledon press conference, where Graf broke down in tears. Wimbledon authorities then threatened to immediately shut down any subsequent press conferences where questions about the issue were asked. The blackmail scheme eventually failed when DNA tests proved Peter was not the baby's father. Whether this scandal affected Graf's form is open to debate. In an interview with "Stern" magazine in July 1990, Graf stated, "I could not fight as usual." [ [ Tennis; Graf's Toughest Foe: the Press] ]

Graf again lost to Seles in the final of the French Open 7–6, 6–4, with Seles saving four consecutive set points in the first set tiebreaker. At Wimbledon, Graf lost in the semifinals to Zina Garrison. After victories in Montreal and San Diego, Graf reached the US Open final, where she lost in straight sets to Gabriela Sabatini. Graf won four indoor tournaments after the US Open, but lost again to Sabatini in a Virginia Slims Championships semifinal. Even though Graf won only one Grand Slam singles title in 1990, she finished the year as the top ranked player.

A mixture of injury problems, personal difficulties, and loss of form made 1991 a tough year for Graf. Seles established herself as the new dominant player on the women's tour, winning the Australian Open, French Open, and US Open and, in March, ending Graf's record 186 consecutive-weeks hold on the World No. 1 ranking. Graf briefly regained the top ranking after winning at Wimbledon but lost it again after her loss to Martina Navratilova at the US Open.


Graf lost an Australian Open quarterfinal to Jana Novotna, the first time she did not reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam singles tournament since the 1986 French Open. She then lost to Gabriela Sabatini in her next three tournaments before winning the [ U.S. Hardcourt Championships] in San Antonio, beating Monica Seles in the final. After losing a fifth straight time to Sabatini in Amelia Island, Florida, Graf once again defeated Seles in the Hamburg final. Following her tournament victory in Berlin, Graf suffered one of the worst defeats of her career in a French Open semifinal where she won only two games against Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and lost her first 6–0 set since 1984. Graf did, however, win her third Wimbledon title, defeating Sabatini in the final. Navratilova then defeated Graf 7–6, 6–7, 6–4 in a US Open semifinal, the first time she had beaten Graf in four years. Graf then won [ Leipzig] , with her 500th career victory coming in a quarterfinal against Judith Wiesner. After winning two more indoor tournaments at Zurich and Brighton, she failed once again in the Virginia Slims Championships, losing her quarterfinal to Novotna. Soon after, she split with her long-time coach, Pavel Slozil, stating that she wanted to work on her own.Fact|date=August 2008


A bout with German measles forced Graf to miss the first major event of 1992, the Australian Open. Her year continued indifferently with losses in three of her first four tournaments, although she did win unconvincingly at [ Boca Raton, Florida] . Victories at Hamburg and Berlin (beating Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the finals of both) prepared her for the French Open, where she defeated Sanchez Vicario in the semifinals after losing the first set 6–0. She then renewed her rivalry with Monica Seles in the final, which Seles won 10-8 in the third set. At Wimbledon, after struggling through early-round three-setters against lowly-ranked Mariaan de Swardt and Patty Fendick, she easily defeated Natalia Zvereva in a quarterfinal, Sabatini in a semifinal, and Seles in the final 6–2, 6–1, with Seles playing in almost complete silence because of widespread media and player criticism of her grunting. Graf then won all five of her Fed Cup matches, helping Germany defeat Spain in the final by defeating Sanchez Vicario 6–4, 6–2. At the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Graf lost to Jennifer Capriati in the final and claimed the silver medal. At the US Open, Graf was upset in a quarterfinal by Sanchez Vicario 7–6(5), 6–3. Four consecutive indoor tournament victories in the autumn improved her year, but for the third consecutive year, she failed to win the Virginia Slims Championships, where she lost in the first round to Lori McNeil.

econd period of dominance


Monica Seles beat Graf in three sets in the final of the Australian Open. The burgeoning rivalry between them was then cut short. During a quarterfinal match between Seles and Magdalena Maleeva in Hamburg, Seles was stabbed between the shoulder blades by a mentally ill Günter Parche. He claimed that he committed the attack to help Graf reclaim the World No. 1 ranking. More than two years elapsed before Seles competed again.

In the absence of Seles, Graf won three of four Grand Slam events to re-establish herself as the dominant player in women's tennis. It took some time, however, for Graf to separate herself from her challengers, with four losses in her first six tournaments of the yearndash two to Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and one each to Seles and the 36 year-old Martina Navratilova. She struggled in Berlin where she lost a 6–0 set to the unheralded Sabine Hack before defeating Mary Jo Fernandez and Gabriela Sabatini in three-set matches to claim her seventh title there in eight years. Nor was she at her best at the French Open but still managed to win her first title there since 1988 with a three-set victory over Fernandez in the final. The win elevated Graf to the World No. 1 ranking for the first time in 22 months.

Her fifth Wimbledon title was aided by a celebrated meltdown in the final from Jana Novotna, who had a point on serve to go up 5–1 in the deciding set before losing the next five games. Graf had an injured right foot during that tournament (and for the next few months), finally resulting in surgery on October 4.

In the meantime, she lost surprisingly to Nicole Bradtke of Australia in a Fed Cup match on clay before winning San Diego and Montreal in preparation for the US Open. She won there, beating Helena Sukova comfortably in the final after eliminating Sabatini in a three-set quarterfinal. She won [ Leipzig] yet again the day before her foot operation, losing only two games to Novotna in the final. Graf lost to Conchita Martinez in her return tournament a month later in Philadelphia. However, she finished her year with a highlight, winning her first Virginia Slims Championships since 1989 by beating Sanchez Vicario in the final despite needing painkillers for a back injury.


Seemingly free of injury for the first time in years, Graf began the year by winning the Australian Open, where she defeated Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the final with the loss of only two games. She then won her next four tournaments easily. In the Key Biscayne, Florida final, she lost her first set of the year — to Natalia Zvereva — after winning 54 consecutive sets. In the Hamburg final, she lost for the first time in 1994 after 36 consecutive match victories, losing to Sanchez Vicario in three sets. She then won her eighth German Open, but there were signs that her form was worsening as she almost lost to Julie Halard in a quarterfinal. Graf then lost to Mary Pierce in a French Open semifinal and followed that with a first-round loss at Wimbledon to Lori McNeil, her first loss in a first round Grand Slam tournament in ten years. Graf still managed to win San Diego the following month but aggravated a long-time back injury in beating Sanchez Vicario in the final. She then began to wear a back brace and was unsure about playing the US Open but elected to play while receiving treatment and stretching for two hours before each match. She made it to the final and took the first set there against Sanchez Vicario. Her back injury, however, flared up and she lost the next two sets. She took the following nine weeks off, returning only for the Virginia Slims Championships where she lost to Pierce in a quarterfinal.


Injury kept Graf out of the Australian Open. She came back to beat Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the finals of both the French Open and Wimbledon. The US Open was Monica Seles's first Grand Slam event since the 1993 attack. Seles and Graf met in the final, with Graf winning 7–6, 0–6, 6–3. Graf then capped the year by beating countrywoman Anke Huber in a five-set final at the season-ending WTA Tour Championships.

In personal terms, 1995 was a difficult year for Graf as she was accused by German authorities of tax evasion in the early years of her career. In her defense, she stated that her father Peter was her financial manager, and all financial matters relating to her earnings at the time had been under his control. As a result, Peter was sentenced to 45 months in jail. He was eventually released after serving 25 months. Prosecutors dropped their case against Steffi in 1997, when she agreed to pay a fine of 1.3 million Deutsche Marks to the government and an unspecified charity.


In 1996, Graf again missed the Australian Open due to injury and then successfully defended the three Grand Slam titles she won the year before. In a close French Open final, Graf again overcame Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, taking the third-set 10-8. Graf then had straight-sets wins against Sanchez Vicario in the Wimbledon final and Monica Seles in the US Open final. Graf also won her fifth and final Chase Championships title with a five set win over Martina Hingis. She was unable to participate in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta because of an injured left knee. [ [ OLYMPICS;Injuries Force Sampras and Graf to Skip Games] ]

Final years on the tour: 1997-1999

The last few years of Graf's career were beset by injuries, particularly to her knees and back.

These injuries caused Graf to miss much of the tour in 1997. She lost the World No. 1 ranking to Martina Hingis and failed to win a Grand Slam title for the first time in ten years.

After missing almost half of the tour in 1998, Graf defeated World No. 2 Hingis and World No. 1 Lindsay Davenport en route to the Philadelphia title. At the first round of the season-ending Chase Championships, Graf defeated World No. 3 Jana Novotna to become the first player to defeat each of the top three ranked players in four matches.Fact|date=May 2008

At the 1999 French Open, Graf reached her first Grand Slam final in three years and fought back from a set and two breaks down in the second set to defeat the top ranked Hingis in three sets. Graf also became the first player in the open era to defeat the first, second, and third ranked players in the same Grand Slam tournament by defeating second ranked Davenport in the quarterfinals and third ranked Monica Seles in the semifinals. Graf said after the final that it would be her last French Open, [ [ Graf edges Hingis, captures sixth and 'last' French title] ] fueling speculation about her retirement.

Graf then reached her ninth Wimbledon singles final, losing to Davenport 6–4, 7–5. In mixed doubles at Wimbledon, Graf briefly partnered with John McEnroe. [ [ Tennis: Wimbledon 99 - Magic mixture of McEnroe and Graf] ]

In August 1999, Graf announced her retirement from the women's tour. She was ranked World No. 3 at that time. Graf said, "I have done everything I wanted to do in tennis. I feel I have nothing left to accomplish. The weeks following Wimbledon [in 1999] weren't easy for me. I was not having fun anymore. After Wimbledon, for the first time in my career, I didn't feel like going to a tournament. My motivation wasn't what it was in the past." [ [ Steffi Graf announces retirement] ]

ummary of career

Graf won 107 singles titles and 11 doubles titles. Her 22 Grand Slam singles titles are second only to Margaret Court, who won 24. Graf won 7 singles titles at Wimbledon, 6 singles titles at the French Open, 5 singles titles at the US Open, and 4 singles titles at the Australian Open. She is the only person to have won at least four singles titles at each Grand Slam event. She is also the only person to have won a combined total of at least 13 singles titles at Wimbledon and the French Open.Fact|date=May 2008 Her overall record in 56 Grand Slam events was 282-34 (89 percent) (87-10 at the French Open, 75-8 at Wimbledon, 73-10 at the US Open, and 47-6 at the Australian Open). Her career prize-money earnings totalled US$21,895,277 (a record until Lindsay Davenport surpassed this amount in January 2008). Her singles win-loss record was 900-115 (88.7 percent). [ [ WTA profile of Steffi Graf] ] She was ranked World No. 1 for a total of 377 weeks during her career, the record in both men's and women's tennis. She was ranked World No. 1 for 186 consecutive weeks (from August 1987 to March 1991), which is still the record in the women's game.

Rivalry with Monica Seles

The indirect effects on Graf's career of the stabbing of Monica Seles in 1993 is the subject of frequent speculation. Seles was World No. 1 at the time of the attack. In head-to-head matches, Graf never had a losing record versus Seles at any point in her career, and prior to 1990, Graf was undefeated versus Seles in three encounters. Seles, however, won four of the seven matches they played from 1990 through 1993, including a 3–1 advantage over Graf in Grand Slam tournaments. From the start of 1991 until the April 1993 Seles stabbing (i.e., the period of Seles's dominance), Graf lost nineteen matches but only two of these were to Seles (while defeating her three times). Graf retired with a 10-5 lifetime record over Seles, including a 6–4 winning record versus Seles in Grand Slam singles tournaments and a 3–2 winning record versus Seles while Seles was ranked World No. 1 in 1991-1993.


In an interview with ESPN Classic's SportsCentury series, Chris Evert said, "Steffi Graf's the best all-around player. [Martina Navratilova|Martina [Navratilova] won more on fast courts and I won more on slow courts, but Steffi came along and won more titles on both surfaces." Evert also has said that Graf's forehand was "the best in women's tennis". [ [ Graf, queen of the lawn] ] Billie Jean King said in 1999 that she considered Graf to be the greatest female tennis player ever. [ [ 14. Steffi Graf] ] Navratilova said in 1996, "Steffi is the best all-around player of all time, regardless of the surface." [ [ Who Is the Greatest Female Player Ever?] ]

Playing style

The main weapon in Graf's game was her powerful inside-out forehand drive, which earned her the moniker "Fräulein Forehand". [] She often positioned herself in her backhand corner, and although this left her forehand wing open and vulnerable to attack, her court speed meant that only the most accurate shots wide to her forehand caused any trouble.

The news media constantly likened her to a "gazelle" or "springbok" while Martina Navratilova considered her speed comparable to that of an Olympic long-distance runner. Fact|date=August 2008

Graf also had a powerful backhand drive but over the course of her career tended to use this less frequently, opting more often for her very effective backhand slice. In baseline rallies, she used the slice almost exclusively. Her accuracy with the slice, both crosscourt and down the line, and her ability to skid the ball and keep it low, enabled her to use it as an offensive weapon to set the ball up for her forehand putaways. Her top-spin backhand was retained only for passing-shots, but as the number of net-rushers declined, her need for the shot lessened. Fact|date=August 2008

She built her powerful and accurate serve up to convert|180|km/h|mph|abbr=on, making it one of the fastest serves in women's tennis, and was a capable volleyer, but was often criticized for not using her volley more often. Fact|date=August 2008

Personal life

With her father dominating her personal life until the Graf tax scandal in 1995, Graf often declined social invitations and made few friends on tour. Soon after retiring she made headlines off the court for dating Andre Agassi. They married on October 22, 2001 with only their mothers as witnesses. [ [ Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf Wed] ] Four days later, Steffi gave birth, six weeks prematurely, to their son Jaden Gil (named for Andre's longtime trainer Gil Reyes). Their daughter, Jaz Elle, was born on October 3, 2003.

At the 1992 Wimbledon champions banquet, Graf and husband-to-be Andre Agassi showed no interest in one another. However, in a 2006 "Sports Illustrated" piece, Agassi — who claimed he had been secretly pining for Graf as far back as 1990 — said that officials would not allow him to dance with her, which was a Wimbledon tradition.

Grand Slam singles finals

Wins (22)

Runner-ups (3)

Runner-ups (31)

Runner-ups (7)

A = did not participate in the tournament.

LQ = lost in the qualifying tournament.

SR = the ratio of the number of singles tournaments won to the number of those tournaments played.

1Tennis was a demonstration sport during the 1984 Olympic Games.

2This table includes only those tournaments that were classified on the WTA Tour as Tier I at the time they were played.

3The Virginia Slims of Florida was classified on the WTA Tour as a Tier I tournament only in 1991 and 1992.

4Graf defaulted before the 1997 final of this tournament, which is classified as a walkover and, therefore, does not count as a loss on her official record.

5This was Graf's ranking on the date she retired from professional tennis. She was not included in the official year end rankings.


*1986: "Most Improved Player," by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA)
*1987 "Player of the Year," by the WTA
*1987 "World Champion," by the International Tennis Federation (ITF)
*1988 "Player of the Year," by the WTA
*1988 "World Champion," by the ITF
*1988 "BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year"
*1989 "Player of the Year," by the WTA
*1989 "World Champion," by the ITF
*1989 "Female Athlete of the Year," by the Associated Press
*1990 "Player of the Year," by the WTA
*1990 "World Champion," by the ITF
*1993 "Player of the Year," by the WTA
*1993 "World Champion," by the ITF
*1994 "Player of the Year," by the WTA
*1995 "Player of the Year," by the WTA
*1995 "World Champion," by the ITF
*1996 "Player of the Year," by the WTA
*1996 "World Champion," by the ITF
*1996 "Most Exciting Player of the Year," by the WTA
*1998 "Most Exciting Player of the Year," by the WTA
*1999 "Most Exciting Player of the Year," by the WTA
*1999 "Prince of Asturias Award," one of the most important awards of Spain and named after the heir apparent of Spain, Prince Felipe
*1999 "Germany Television Award"
*1999 "Athlete of the Century" for the category "Female Athlete in Ballsports" by a panel of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)
*1999 "Female Athlete of the Year," by the German television broadcaster ARD
*1999 "Female Sports Award of the Last Decade," by ESPY
*1999 "Olympic Order" granted by Dr. Antonio Samaranch, president of the IOC
*2002 "Medal of Honor," bestowed by the prime minister of Graf's home state Baden-Württemberg, Erwin Teufel
*2004 Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame

pecial honours

  • Steffi is the only female to be selected for Forbes Top-30 "Most recognizable and marketable athletes" list in 1995.
  • Selected for "European Heroes" in 2004 by TIME Magazine.
  • Voted "Germans greatest role model" by TV14 magazine.
  • Voted "Most admirable German woman" by Amica magazine.
  • Voted "Germany's Sportswoman of the Century" in 1999 by the German press.
  • Steffi is the only person to have won the 'Golden Slam' (1988)
  • Steffi is the first German to win the Spain's 'Prince of Asturias' award.
  • Chosen by World Economic Forum As Young Global Leader for 2008

    Notes and references

    External links

    * [ The official Stefanie Graf website]
    *wta|id=70044|name=Steffi Graf
    * [ International Tennis Hall of Fame profile]
    * [ Official Wimbledon profile]
    * [ BBC profile]
    * [ ESPN biography]
    * [ Steffi Graf Biography]
    * [ Steffi Graf' victories]

    NAME= Graf, Steffi
    ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Graf, Stefanie Maria
    World No. 1 ranked female tennis player from Germany
    DATE OF BIRTH=June 14, 1969
    PLACE OF BIRTH=Mannheim, West Germany

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