Athlete Spotlight: Steffi Graf, Former Tennis Superstar
Name: Stefanie Maria “Steffi” Graf
Height: 5’ 9½’’ Weight: 140lbs.
Date of Birth: 14 June 1969
Accomplishments: World No.1 Tennis Player, Golden Slam Winner, Olympic Gold Medalist, 22 Singles Title, Seven Wimbledon singles titles, Six French Open, Five U.S. Open singles titles
Steffi Graf, former tennis player, was ranked world No. 1 player during her career. Graf who played for Germany tied with Serena Williams and won 22 Grand Slam singles titles. This win is second all-time behind Margaret Court and marks the joint record for Major wins since the introduction of the Tennis Open Era in 1968. By winning the Olympic gold medal and all four Grand Slam singles titles in the same calendar year, she became the first player (male or female) in 1988 to achieve the Golden Slam.
In addition to this, she is the only tennis player who has won all Grand Slam event at least four times. The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) ranked the tennis player World No. 1 for a record 377 weeks. No other player, male or female, has held the No.1 rank for this long period since the Association of Tennis Professionals and the WTA started issuing rankings.
Moreover, Graf won 107 singles titles that ranks her third on the all-time list of the WTA. Chris Evert holds the second rank in the list with 157 titles and Martina Navratilova holds the first rank with 167 titles. Margaret Court and Graf are the only tennis players, male or female, to win three grand slam. They won the grand slam five times: 1988, 1989, 1993, 1995 and 1996.
The most interesting feature of the German player’s game was her versatility and great footwork across all playing surfaces. She is the only player to win each of the four Majors at least four times. Graf is quite popular for her strong forehand drive. She has won seven Wimbledon singles titles, six French Open singles titles, five U.S. Open singles titles, and four Australian Open titles.
The Grand Slam of Graf was achieved on clay, grass and hard court whereas the previous five Grand Slams were achieved on only clay and grass. From the 1987 French Open through to the 1990 French Open, she reached 13 consecutive Grand Slam singles finals and won 9 of them. Other than that, she reached overall 31 Grand Slam singles finals.
Off the field:
Navratilova included Graf in her list of best tennis players. In 1999, when the tennis star player was ranked World No.3 player, Graf retired. Graf played in the World Team Tennis Smash Hits exhibition in 2010 in Washington, D.C., to support The Elton John AIDS Foundation. She wore Adidas sneakers and apparels during her tennis career and had an Adidas sneakers line, dubbed St. Graf Pro line.
In October 2001, Graf married former World No. 1 men’s tennis player Andre Agassi. The couple have two children – Jaz Elle and Jaden Gil. In 2004, Graf was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame. Further, Graf was appointed the brand ambassador of Kerala tourism last year to promote Ayurveda in Europe and North America.