Biography

Steffi Graf Biography – Only Woman player to Win Golden Grand Slam

Steffi Graf one of the greatest women tennis players of all-time winning 22 grand slam singles titles and only player in tennis history to achieve Golden Slam by winning all four Grand Slam singles titles and the Olympic gold medal in a single year in 1988.

She was ranked World No.1 for consecutive 186 weeks from August 1987 to March 1991 and an overall record of 377 weeks.

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Image credit: Bob Martin – Getty Images

Who is Steffi Graf?

Steffi Graf Age: 51 (14 June 1969)

Steffi Graf is a German former professional tennis player, who won 22 grand slam singles titles. She is known for performing in all surfaces with her powerful forehand and footwork.  She is the only tennis player in history to have won each Grand slam titles at least four times.

She retired at the age of 30 in 1999  with total career prize money of $21,895,277. Steffi Graf married Andre Agassi in 2001 and they have two children. Steffi Graf’s net worth is estimated to be $30 Million.

Early Life

Steffi Graf was born on 14 June 1969, in Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany to Heidi Schalk and Peter Graf. She has a younger brother named Michael. She was introduced to tennis by her father at the age of three with a wooden racket and at the age of four, she started practicing on the court.

She played her first tournament at the age of five and started winning junior tournaments regularly and went on to win the junior European Championships in 1982.

Professional Tennis Career

Steffi Graf started her first professional tennis at the age of 13 and slowly started making marks in the international arena. In the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles, she represented West Germany and won the non-official tennis demonstration event.

She started giving tough competition to  Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert during the start of 1986, even though she lost six times to Evert and three times to Navratilova all in straight sets.

1987 – Raise of Steffi Graf and  First Grand Slam title

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Steffi Graf First Grand slam title at French Open in 1987 Image credit: Chris Cole – Getty Images

Steffi Graff started the year strongly with six tournament victories, with highlight being, beating Martina Navratilova in the semi-final and Chris Evert in the final at a tournament in Miami. She won her first Grand Slam title at the French Open final where she defeated World No.1 Navratilova 6-4, 4-6, 8-6.

But later that year she lost to  Navratilova in the Wimbledon and US Open final.

Graf ended the year with a win-loss record of 75-2, with both losses coming to Navratilova. For the first time in her career, she overtook Navratilova for the World No.1 ranking and she continued to hold the record for the next 186 consecutive weeks.

1988 – Golden Slam

03_Steffi Graf after her Gold Medal in Olympic games in 1988
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Steffi Graf after her Gold Medal in Olympic games in 1988 Image credit: Chris Cole – Getty Images

Graf started the year winning Australian Open defeating Chris Evert in the final 6-1, 7-6. Later she defended her French open final against  Natasha Zvereva 6–0, 6–0 in a 34-minute final. This was the shortest and most one-sided grand slam final ever.

In the Wimbledon final against Navratilova, Graf came from trailing 7-5, 2-0 before winning the match 5–7, 6–2, 6–1. She also won her Grand Slam Doubles partnering with Sabatini.

Then in the US Open final, she defeated Sabatini  6–3, 3–6, 6–1.

Then in the Olympic Games in Seoul, she defeated Sabatini 6-3, 6-3 for the gold medal, and with this victory, she achieved “Golden Slam”. Till date no tennis player has achieved this feat.

Steffi Graf was named the 1988 BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year.

1989

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At Wimbledon in 1989 Image credit: Bob Martin – Getty Images

Steffi Graf continued her winning streak to make it five grand slam titles in a row by defeating Helena Suková in the final.

 Ted Tinling on Steffi Graf after defeating Gabriela Sabatini in  1989 Australian Open Semi-Final

“I saw what Steffi did to Sabatini at the Australian Open this year, and that was it. She is better than them all.”


In the French Open, after suffering from food poising, she fought her way out to beat Monica Seles in the semi-final 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. But she lost the final match against 17-year-old Spaniard Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in three sets.

Graf came back strongly to beat Martina Navratilova 6–2, 6–7, 6–1 in the Wimbledon final. Then again in the US Open final, she defeated Martina Navratilova 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 after trailing 3-6, 2-4 to win her third Grand slam of the year.

1990 – 1992

In 1990 she started well by winning the Australian Open but lost in finals at the French Open, semi-finals at Wimbledon, and again finals at the US Open. In 1991, she won her third Wimbledon title by defeating Sabatini in the final. Again in 1992, she won her only grand slam title in Wimbledon by upsetting Monica Seles in the final 6-2, 6-1.

Rebirth of dominance by Steffi Graf

1993

In the Australian Open final, she lost to Seles in the final 6-4, 3-6, 2-6.

In Hamburg, one of the shocking moments unfolded in Tennis history when World No.1 Monica Seles was stabbed between the shoulder blades by a mentally ill fan of Steffi Graf, who claimed he attacked Seles so that Graf would reclaim the World No.1 ranking. And it took two years for Seles to compete again.

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At French Open in 1993 Image credit: Jérôme Prevost – Getty Images

With Seles’s absence, Graf won her third French Open title after a gap of five years. A win in the French Open took her to the World No.1 ranking for the first time in 22 months. Then she won the Wimbledon and the US Open in the same year.

1994

She started the year well by winning the Australian Open but with loss in form Graf lost in the semi-final at the French Open. At Wimbledon, she lost in the first round, which was her first loss in the first round in a Grand Slam tournament in ten years. With spine issues, she participated in the US Open and lost in the final.

1995 – 1996

In 1995, Graf could not participate in the Australian Open due to calf injury but went on to win her fourth French Open title and sixth Wimbledon title against Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in the finals.

06_In 1995 after defeating Monica Seles in US Open finals
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In 1995 after defeating Monica Seles in US Open finals Image credit: picture alliance – Getty Images

After a gap of two years, Monica Seles played her first Grand Slam event in the US Open. With much anticipation, Graf and Seles met in the finals, with Graf defeated Seles 7-6, 0-6, 6-3.

In 1996, again due to surgery she missed the Australian Open. But she won the remaining three Grand Slam titles for the year

Steffi Graf Retirement

With multiple injuries and surgeries, Graf missed many tournaments and lost in earlier rounds. After a gap 10 years, she couldn’t win a single Grand slam title in a year in 1997.

In 1999, after a gap of three years, she reached the finals of the French Open and defeated  Martina Hingis 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 to win her sixth French Open title. During the process, Graf becomes the first player in the open era, to defeat the top 3 ranked players in the same Grand Slam tournament. She defeated third-ranked Monica Seles in the semi-finals, second-ranked Lindsay Davenport in the quarterfinals, and first-ranked Martina Hingis in the finals. After the finals, she announced that this will be her last French Open.

In Wimbledon, she lost in the finals against Davenport 4-6, 5-7. Then in August 1999 at the age of 30, Steffi Graf ranked World no.3 announced her retirement bringing down curtains to one of the successful Tennis shows in history.

07_Lindsay Davenport and Graf after Wimbledon finals in 1999
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Lindsay Davenport and Graf after Wimbledon finals in 1999 Image credit: Professional Sport – Getty Images

“I have done everything I wanted to do in tennis. I feel I have nothing left to accomplish. The weeks following Wimbledon weren’t easy for me. I was not having fun anymore. After Wimbledon, for the first time in my career, I didn’t feel like going to a tournament. My motivation wasn’t what it was in the past.”

Cristiano Ronaldo Success Story

Steffi Graf Single Grand Slam Titles

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Steffi Graf in 2019 Image credit: VCG – Getty Images

Australian Open(4) – 1988, 1989, 1990, 1994

French Open(6) – 1987, 1988, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1999

Wimbledon (7) – 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996

US Open(5)- 1988, 1989, 1993, 1995, 1996

Steffi Graf Single Records

Graf Win/Loss record for 56 Grand slam events.

Overall Record – 282/32 – 89%

Australian Open – 47/6

French Open – 87/10

Wimbledon – 75/7

US Open – 73/9

Overall Win/Loss record for singles 900/115 (88.7%)

Doubles Grand Slam Records

Wimbledon – 1988 partner – Gabriela Sabatini

Total Prize Money Earnings

Steffi Graf’s total career prize-money earnings totaled US$21,895,277. It was a record until Lindsay Davenport surpassed the amount in 2008.

Awards and Honours

 ITF World Champion in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1995 and 1996.

WTA Player of the Year in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996.

German Sportsperson of the Year in 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, and 1999.

Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2004

Inducted into the German Sports Hall of Fame in 2008

Berliner Tennis-Arena was renamed to Steffi-Graf-Stadion

In 1999, Steffi Graf was named the greatest female tennis player of the 20th century by a panel of experts assembled by the Associated Press

 In 2012, Steffi Graf was picked by Tennis Channel as the greatest female tennis player ever in their list of 100 greatest tennis players of all time.

In 2018, at Tennis.com poll for its readers, Graf came first on the greatest women’s tennis player of all time

Famous Tennis writer Steve Flink named her as the best female player of the 20th century.

Personal Life

Steffi Graf married Andre Agassi on 22 October 2001 and they have two children, son Jaden Gil born in 2001, and daughter Jaz Elle born in 2003. Steffi Graf and Agassi reside in Las Vegas. Together Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi have a net worth of $205 million, where Agassi’s net worth is $175 million while Graf’s is around $30 million.

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Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi Image credit: Laurent ZABULON- Getty Images

 

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