Born14 June 1969
Stefanie Maria "Steffi" Graf is a German former professional tennis player. In her professional tennis career, Steffi Graf spent 377 weeks as the No. 1 female player and won 22 Grand Slam singles titles. She retired from tennis in 1999.
Childhood and Early Life
Stephanie Maria Graf was born on June 14, 1969 in Mannheim, West Germany, to Peter and Heidi Graf. She has a brother named Michael. Her parents, Peter and Heidi, were both tennis players. Her father was a nationally-ranked player in Germany. Graf’s tryst with tennis started when she was merely three years old. At age 6, she won her first junior tournament. By the time she was 13, she had won the German junior championship. In 1982, when she was 13, after she became the second-youngest player in the history of tennis to achieve an international ranking.
Graf turned professional in October 1982 at just 13 years and 4 months of age, and a few weeks later, she became the second-youngest player to earn an international ranking (No. 124). 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. She walked away from that competition with the gold. Her schedule carefully managed by her father, Graf saw her world ranking climb to No. 6 by the end of 1985. In 1986 she won 24 straight matches, quickly moving up to the number three ranking in the world. On 13 April, 1986 was a seminal day for Graf as she won her first WTA tournament by beating Chris Evert in the finals of the Family Circle Cup in Hilton Head, South Carolina. She followed up the same by winning at Amelia Island, Charleston, and Berlin. But Graf was not satisfied. She wanted a Grand Slam, and therefore began a rigorous training program that included running, weightlifting, jumping rope, and more and more tennis. She made her hard work pay off, and in 1987 won the French open against Navratilova (6-4, 4-6, 8-6). At that time, in French Open history, she was the youngest winner ever, and with her victory moved her ranking up to number two in the world. Graf won the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1988, making her just the third female player to win all four Grand Slam events in one calendar year. She also captured gold at the Olympic Games that autumn in Seoul, South Korea, her groundbreaking series of victories dubbed a "Golden Grand Slam."
On October 3, 1991, Graf became the youngest woman to notch 500 career wins. An outstanding athlete with intense focus and a superlative forehand, she collected at least one Grand Slam singles title every year until 1997. She also received a silver medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. Soon after losing in the finals at Wimbledon in 1999, Graf, who has been plagued by injuries, retired from the sport.
Awards & Achievements
In 1986, Steffi Graf won her debut award in the category of ‘Newcomer of the Year’ by Corel WTA Tour.
She collected ‘Player of the Year’ award eight times, four times in a row from 1987 to 1990 and 1993 to 1996.
1988 was the most significant year as she became the first and only tennis player to achieve the Calendar Year Golden Slam by winning all four Grand Slam singles titles and the Olympic gold medal in the same calendar year.
She is the only player to win five consecutive Grand Slams from 1988-89 and a total of 7 Grand Slams out of 8 in two calendar years 1988 to 1989.
She has won a total of 22 Grand Slams singles titles from 1988 until 1999, with at least four victories in each of the four Grand Slams.
She was ranked#1 for 186 consecutive weeks, from August 17, 1987 to March 10, 1991. Overall, she was ranked#1 for 377 weeks in total during her whole career, which is a record.
In 1998, she was bestowed ‘Most Interesting Player of the Year’ award by Corel WTA Tour.
Year 1999 witnessed Graf receiving numerous awards. She won the ‘Prince of Asturias Award’, one of the most important awards of Spain, the German Television Award’, ‘Athlete of the Century’ for the category ‘Female Athlete In Ballsports’ and ‘Female Athlete of the Year’ by German TV broadcaster ARD.
Additionally, same year she won ‘Female Sports Award of the last Decade’ by ESPY, Las Vegas and Olympic Medal of Honor’.
Graf has been the proud recipient of the ‘Medal of Honor’ which was bestowed upon her by the Prime Minister of the German Federal State Baden-Wuertemberg, Mr. Erwin Teufel in 2002.
In 2004, she was inducted in the Tennis Hall of Fame.
In 2007, she won the ‘German Media Prize’ for authentic social commitment.
Steffi Graf was in a romantic relationship with fellow German tennis player Alexander Mronz and racing car driver Michael Bartels over the 1990s. However, none of them materialized though her affair was Bartels was a long term one.
She married former world No. 1 men's tennis player Andre Agassi in October 2001. They have two children – Jaden Gil and Jaz Elle. Graf was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2004 .The couple lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with their two children.
In addition to family life, Graf stays active with charity work. This includes her foundation, Children for Tomorrow, which offers help to crisis-stricken children and their families.
Steffi Graf Quotes
1. “You can't measure success if you have never failed. My father has taught me that if you really do want to reach your goals, you can't spend any time worrying about whether you're going to win or lose. Focus only on getting better. “
2. “You can't measure success if you have never failed. “
3. “You can have a certain arrogance, and I think that's fine, but what you should never lose is the respect for the others. “
4. “As long as I can focus on enjoying what I'm doing, having fun, I know I'll play well.
5. “I never look back, I look forward. “
6. “When you lose a couple of times, it makes you realize how difficult it is to win.
7. “If you watch Rafael Nadal play tennis, you can only respond with amazement and great admiration. He is an incredible athlete with so much discipline, so much concentration and someone who likes to put a lot of passion into every point. Words fail to come out of me to describe his game appropriately. I've rarely seen anyone who approaches a ball with so much attention. With such passion and joy that it makes great fun to watch him. With him, you can associate everything that makes tennis so beautiful. “
8. “It doesn't hurt to lose my crown, it hurts to lose. “
9. “I have always been guided by striving to show the best that I could. That is what kept me going in tennis and it is the same now. “
10. “I don't like the word 'businesswoman.' Perhaps 'committed mother' would be the best description. “
11. “Age, what is it? It's not a figure that has ever meant anything to me. “
12. “Sometimes I wish I could have been a bit more relaxed, but then I wouldn't have been the same player. “
13. “My big dream was to work as a photographer for 'National Geographic.'
14. “I don't ever look back. I look forward. “
15. “I think it takes people to get to know you and the recognition comes over time.
16. “You cannot compare your athletic achievement to the importance of children and giving them a safe environment in which to grow up and enjoy life. “
17. “If you go to a big city anywhere in the world and you need a doctor, just ask me. I can tell you who's good and who's bad. I've even considered writing a guidebook. “
18. “I suppose it's amazing how quick life goes by when you have children. “
19. “It shifted attention away from that and Ive never been someone who liked the attention from the media anyway. “
20. “Grass is a surface I have always loved, Wimbledon is a tournament I have always loved. “
21. “I am a person who sticks to her word. “
22. “I knew that maybe I couldn't be playing again, but I just wanted to get in physical shape. “
23. “The tennis wasn't really very much on my mind, so it wasn't like I was thinking about it all the time. “
24. “It's so difficult to find time besides the tennis. “