4 minute read

Steffi Graf

Dominant Throughout The 90s

On the court, Graf compiled Grand Slam title after Grand Slam title. In between the major championships she amassed singles tournament victories as if they were just another stop on her way to becoming one of the greatest tennis players in history. In 1991, however, she fell to number two in the world rankings after an amazing 188 weeks at the top. She lost her ranking to Monica Seles, which meant more to her than having the record stopped. She did not like losing, and she was frustrated at having not won a Grand Slam event in over a year and a half.

Graf soon ended her dry spell with a 1991 Wimbledon victory, defeating Gabriela Sabatini 6-4, 3-6, 8-6. In 1992, Graf lost to Seles in the finals of the French Open, but regained her composure and defeated Seles handily at Wimbledon (6-2, 6-1).

Seles again defeated Graf in the finals of the 1993 Australian Open, and it appeared that Graf would remain at number two for a while. Then, in a bizarre and tragic occurrence, Seles, seated courtside at a German tennis match, was stabbed in the back. The authorities learned that the perpetrator was one of Graf's fans, and he claimed later that he had done so in order to restore Graf to her number one ranking.

The news of Seles's attack shocked Graf, as well as the tennis world. Graf was the first person to see Seles in the hospital. Seles remained away from tennis for over two years, and—though it was an unfortunate incident that put her back on top—Graf in fact did regain the number one ranking by dominating the last half of 1993, winning the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open. But she was distraught over Seles's stabbing. Graf went on in 1994 to win the Australian open, and then—suffering from allergies—lost a major upset to Mary Pierce in the semifinals of the French Open.

Chronology

1969 Born June 14 in Mannheim, West Germany, to Peter and Heidi Graf
1972 At age of three gets out father's tennis racquets and wants to learn game
1974 Convinces her father to take her interest in tennis seriously
1975 Wins her first junior tournament (she's six years old)
1979 Trains under Boris Breskvar, German Tennis Federation Coach
1982 Quits school and becomes second youngest player to receive an international ranking
1982 Wins German Junior 18s Championship and European Junior 18s Championship
1982 Turns professional on October 18
1983 Playing in qualifying rounds of French open at age 13, she is mistaken for a ballgirl
1984 Wins Gold at 1984 Summer Olympic Games
1985 Breaks into the top ten of WTA Tour Rankings for the first time
1986 Wins her first title, defeating Chris Evert at the Family Circle Cup
1986 Wins U.S. Clay Court Championship; begins first of three consecutive German Open victories
1987 Wins French Open, her first Grand Slam title event (defeats Martina Navratilova)
1987 On August 17 becomes the #1 player in the world. Holds spot for 186 weeks until October 3, 1991
1988 Completes Grand Slam (only third woman in history to do so)
1988 Wins second Olympic Gold Medal
1989 Plays her first match against Monica Seles in semis of French Open
1989 Wins Wimbledon, Australian Open and U.S. Open
1989 Finishes year with 14 titles and an 86-2 record
1990 Wins Australian Open
1990 Wins first tournament ever played in Leipzig and donates her prize money ($70,000) to aid tennis development in East Germany; in October the Steffi Graf Youth Tennis Center is founded in Leipzig
1991 Wins Wimbledon
1991 Gives up no. 1 ranking to Monica Seles, and, following 1990, a mediocre year, considers quitting tennis
1992 Wins Wimbledon
1993 Wins French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open
1993 A "fan" of Graf's stabs Monica Seles at a tournament in Hambourg. The incident greatly upsets Graf
1994 Wins Australian Open
1994 Ranking hits 441.1746, the highest ranking average ever achieved by a player
1995 Wins French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open
1995 Wins her 750th match on July 6th at the Wimbledon semi-finals
1996 Wins French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open, her 20th and 21st Grand Slam titles
1996 Becomes the player, male or female, to be ranked no. 1 in the world the longest (total of 332 weeks over 6 years)
1997 Suffers injury to the patella tendon in her knee in February; undergoes operation in June
1998 Becomes highest-grossing female athlete ever, surpassing Navratilova
1998 Drops from singles rankings because she had not played the required number of tournaments
1999 Wins French Open
1999 Wins her 900th career match; on August 13 she announces her retirement from Tennis
2001 Marries Andre Agassi on October 22; gives birth to Jaden Gil Agassi a few days later

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsTennisSteffi Graf Biography - Growing Up, The Young Professional, The Big Year, Awards And Accomplishments, Dominant Throughout The 90s - CONTACT INFORMATION