Steffi Graf

Steffi Graf

Steffi Graf, born on June 14, 1969, in Mannheim, Germany, entered pro tennis at 13, going on to become one of the sport’s top players. Known for her powerful forehand, she’s won 22 Grand Slam singles titles and in 1988 had a “Golden Slam,” winning all four major competitions and Olympic gold. She retired from the sport in 1999 and wed tennis pro Andre Agassi in 2001.The couple have two children – Jaden Gil and Jaz Elle. Graf was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2004.

Steffi Graph is a former World No.1 female tennis player from Germany. She is also considered as one of the greatest female tennis players in the history of the game. She holds 22 Grand Slam titles, more than hundred single titles and has also won Olympic medal as well. Read on to find out more about her biography, childhood and profile.

Graf was ranked World No. 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) for a record 377 total weeks—the longest period for which any player, male or female, has held the number-one ranking since the WTA and the Association of Tennis Professionals began issuing rankings. She also holds the open era record for finishing as the year-end World No. 1 the most times, having done so on eight occasions. She won 107 singles titles, which ranks her third on the WTA’s all-time list after Martina Navratilova (167 titles) and Chris Evert (157 titles).

Graf is regarded by some to be the greatest female tennis player of all time. Billie Jean King said in 1999, “Steffi is definitely the greatest women’s tennis player of all time. “Navratilova herself has included Graf on her list of great players. In December 1999, Graf was named the greatest female tennis player of the 20th century by a panel of experts assembled by theAssociated Press. 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. In March 2012, Tennis Channel picked Graf as the greatest female tennis player ever in their list of 100 greatest tennis players of all time.

Childhood

Stefanie Maria Graf was born on June 14, 1969, in Mannheim, West Germany. Her father Peter Graf was a car and insurance salesman and an aspiring tennis coach. Her mother’s name is Heidi. Steffi’s father was the one who introduced her to tennis at the tender age of three.

Steffi Graf childhood

He showed her how to swing a wooden racket; in the family living room. She began to play tennis when she was just four years old and played in her first tournament at five. But it wasn’t until she was thirteen that she began to play professionally.

Early Career

She was first noticed when she almost beat the then No.10 seed, Jo Durie of the United Kingdom in the year 1984. She represented West Germany in the tennis demonstration event at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles and went on to win the event. Her father took care of the fact that she played a limited number of matches so that she would not burn herself out. For example, in 1985, Graf played only 10 games leading upto the U.S Open. She used to practice four hours a day with her father Peter Graf and her then coach Pavel Slozil.

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. (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.)

Steffi Graf Early Career

During 1985 and 1986, she was the top challenger of Martina Navratilova and Chris Event. During this period, although she lost six times and did not even win any tournament but she consistently reached the semi-finals and finals. During the U.S.Open, the main highlight of her game was the semi-final loss to Navratilova. However, she went on to win her first ever WTA Tournament on April 13, 1986 when she beat Evert for the first time in the final of the Family Circle Cup in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Professional Career

1987 is known as the breakthrough year for Graf. She started the year with six tournament wins heading to the French Open. The main highlight of the year was the tournament at Key Biscayne, Florida where she finally defeated Navratilova in a semi-final and Chris Evert in the final. In the French Open final, Graf again defeated Navratilova, who at the time was World No.1 6–4, 4–6, 8–6 after beating Gabriela Sabatini in a three-set semifinal. However, she lost to Navratilova in the Wimbledon final, which was her first loss of the year.

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 Miami, 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 defeating Natasha Zvereva 6–0, 6–0 in a 32-minute final. That was the first double bagel in a Grand Slam final since 1911. Zvereva, who had eliminated Martina Navratilova in the fourth round, won only thirteen points in the match.

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 inHamburg and Mahwah (where she lost only eight games all tournament).

Steffi Graf Early Career1

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 andMargaret 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 – hampered by illness – was upset by Pam Shriver, only her third loss of the year. She was named the 1988 BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year.

It was during this year that Graf’s Grand Slam winning streak ended when the 17-year old Spaniard Arantxa Sanchez Vicario beat Graf in three sets. But, in 1990, Graf came back strongly and defeated Mary Joe Fernandez in the final of the Australian Open, which was her eighth ever Grand Slam single title in the last nine that she has contested in. Because of her injury problems, personal difficulties and loss of form, 1991 was a tough year for her.
She established herself again as the victorious player on the women’s tour after she won the Australian Open, French Open and the U.S.Open. She finished the year with a record 186 consecutive-weeks holding on to the World No.1 title.
During the last few years of her career, she had to deal with injuries, particularly to her knees and back. Because of these injuries, she missed the tour in 1997 and also lost her World No.1 title to Martina Hingis. She also failed to win a Grand Slam title for the first time in ten years.
Steffi Graf 1
It was in August 1999 that Graf announced her retirement from tennis. She was the World No.3 at that time. In total, Steffi Graf won 107 singles title and 11 doubles title. Her 22 Grand Slam singles title are next only to Margaret Court who had won 24 titles. She has also won 7 singles title at Wimbledon, 6 singles title at the French Open, 5 singles title at the U.S.Open and 4 singles title at the Australian Open.
She is the only player who has won atleast 13 singles title in the Wimbledon and French Open. The total career earnings of Steffi Graf is estimated to be US $21,895,277, which was a record until Lindsay Davenport surpassed her in January 2008.
Personal Life
In the 1990s, she briefly dated fellow German tennis player Alexander Mronz and had a long term relationship with racing car driver Michael Bartels.
Soon after she retired from the game, she started dating the  former Men’s World No.1 tennis player, Andre Agassi. Subsequently, they got married in October 2001 with only their mothers as the witnesses to their wedding.
Steffi Graf Family
Just after four days of marriage, Steffi Graf gave birth to their son Jaden Gil and on October 3, 2003, their daughter Jaz Elle was born.
Awards
  • 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 Medal of Honor” 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
Special honors
  • Steffi Graf 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 Graf is the only person to have won the ‘Golden Slam’ (1988)
  • Steffi Graf is the first German to win the Spain’s ‘Prince of Asturias’ award.

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