Steffi Graf
STEFFI GRAF

Germany
Born 14/6/1969
Australian Open 1988,1989,1990,1994
French Open 1987,1988,1993,1995,1996,1999
Wimbledon 1988,1989,1991,1992,1993,1995,1996
US Open 1988,1989,1993,1995,1996

Steffi Graf had a powerful forehand. She moved quickly around the court, often running round the backhand (which was a defensive slice stroke) to hit the forehand. Graf's footwork was exceptional and to see her and Navratilova on the same court was to witness two of the greatest athletes in the history of women's tennis. Graf, like Pete Sampras, seemed to raise her game when it most mattered. Graf took her first Grand Slam title at the French Open in 1987 in a classic final against Martina Navratilova a few days before her 18th birthday, but Martina gained revenge in the Wimbledon and U. S. finals. In 1988 Graf won the Grand Slam, dethroning Navratilova in the Wimbledon final. In 1989 Graf won the Australian, Wimbledon and U. S. titles (beating Navratilova in the latter two) and it took a great performance from young Arantxa Sanchez Vicario to beat her in the French Open final. It seemed that no one could stop Graf, but in 1990 Monica Seles emerged to challenge her. From April 1990 to that fateful day three years later when Seles was stabbed, Graf only won two Grand Slam titles (at Wimbledon in 1991 over Gabriela Sabatini and 1992 over Seles). Graf was below par and lost to Seles in the French finals of 1990 and 1992 and the Australian final in 1993 and suffered some surprise losses to other players. At the French Open in 1993 Graf returned to form and won the title. For the next three years Graf dominated, despite increasing injury problems. She was fortunate in the 1993 Wimbledon final when Jana Novotna famously blew a 4-1 lead in the final set against her, failing to win another game. Graf's main rival in the 1994-96 period was Sanchez Vicario, who she beat in the Australian Open final in 1994, two epic French Open finals in 1995 and 1996, plus an epic Wimbledon final in 1995 and a slightly easier one the following year. Sanchez Vicario beat Graf in the U. S. Open final in 1994. Seles returned in late 1995 but was past her best and Graf beat her in the 1995 and 1996 U. S. Open finals. In 1997 injuries finally got the better of Graf and it seemed her winning days were behind her. However, at the French Open in 1999 Graf beat Martina Hingis in a classic encounter to win her 22nd and last Grand Slam title. She retired after losing the Wimbledon final to Lindsay Davenport. She then married Andre Agassi and had two children with him.


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