We often hear about how great Steffi was in her final year on tour. How phenomenal for someone her age to be winning a slam and farewelling the tour on such a high note.
But what we forget is that Steffi was SO YOUNG still.
Let's look, shall we?
Steffi turned 30 after winning the French Open in 1999. After that she played Wimbledon and lost in the finals and then retired.
Well let's look at two other recent greats who has retired already.
Chris turned 30 in Dec 1984. After that she won the 1984 Australian Open and then French Open 1985. That's back-to-back slams after turning 30!! She could've been like Steffi, and chickened out from competition from younger generations and make herself look good by retiring after 1985 French but she didn't. She played on.
Now Martina Navratilova.
Martina turned 30 in Oct 1986. She had just won Wimbledon and US Open back-to-back in 1986, and then she went onto win them again back-to-back in 1987. So again Martina could've retired after winning her slams at Steffi's retirement age and made herself look better. But she, like a champion like Chris also, didn't chicken out and stayed on and competed.
Graf's 1999 was way overrated. I need to remind the younger generation that Graf retired too early and it was basically a copout because she was scared she'd start having bad records against the younger generation. Let's face it, the Williams sisters were already having wins over her. Whereas, it took her 7 tries to beat Chris and 4 tries to beat Martina. It only took Venus and Serena, 3 and 2 tries respectively to start beating Graf.
And Martina and Chris could've retired at her age too and made themselves look more invincible.
If Chris Evert had retired at the 1985 French Open, she would've had a 4-0 record over Graf!
If Martina Navratilova had retired after 1986 US Open, she would've had a 4-1 record over Graf!
None of this 3-2 and 1-1 dubious winning records Steffi had over the sisters.
The sisters were catching up to Graf WAAAY faster in 1999 than Graf caught up to Evert and Navratilova when she was their age.