Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2
Graf to Publish Autobiography
Polar Foil Journal
April 1, 2013
Cally M. Otter
Described by those with access to advance copies as a collection of essays and reminiscences that range in tone from petulant complaining, tedious self-aggrandizement, egregious plagiarism to blatant lying, comes "Closed: What Do You People Want From Me Anyway?" the much-awaited autobiography of German tennis legend Steffi Graf, available this summer in both English and German from the obscure publishing firm Narrenschiff.
Upon hearing the news, Rennae Stubbs, tennis television commentator and long-time friend of Graf, tweeted: "What the hell? This can't be for real! #Unpossible!"
Many had long assumed Graf's written memoirs would never hit the shelves, given the reticent nature of the retired star. Apparently, Graf's reluctance was overcome when she saw the success of husband Andre Agassi's autobiography.
"I'll be honest," Graf said. "When I saw what Andre pulled off, I was thinking to myself, 'I've got to cash in on that, too.' So I wrote some things down, whatever popped into my head, and shopped around for the best advance and percentage of sales contract. Yes, it's sensationalist garbage, but it's guaranteed to sell millions. Because sensationalist garbage is what people want. After years of suffering from tabloid headlines, I'm finally going to make that sort of trash, and the idiots who buy it, work for me. Cha-ching!"
Reportedly, people affiliated with women's tennis, past and present, are uneasy and agitated about potential bombshells and otherwise embarrassing behind-the-scenes incidents being divulged in the book.
In the preface, Graf reveals: "Many of my former associates, including Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Monica Seles, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Gabriela Sabatini, Pam Shriver, Anne Person Worcester, Gerry Smith, Merrett Stierheim, Peachy Kellmeyer, Ana Leaird, John Korff, and Günter Sanders among others, took up a collection and offered me $25,560,437.91 not to publish this book. I am not dissuaded, but I do wonder which one of them contributed the 91 cents -- probably Arantxa because I understand the tax man also came for her, although I note, with some acrimony, that no one went to jail."
Pre-order sales are expected to be extremely brisk, possibly even record-setting in Graf's native Germany, but no book signing tour has been scheduled yet. While publishing house spokeswoman April Fuhl anticipated great demand for in-store appearances by the former champion, she said Graf was hoping the bulk of sales would be for the electronic edition, so that she will not be inconvenienced by irksome people who want an autographed printed copy.
Promotional excerpts have been made available to media outlets that have good standing with Graf, which is evidently a rather short list. A small sampling from the table of contents yields chapter titles such as: "Look On My Works, Ye Mighty, And Despair!"; "Paint It, Black"; "Enjoy the Silence"; "I Don't Need No Stinking Motivation"; "It's None of Your [Expletive Redacted] Business"; "What Do You Want Me To Do About It?"; "Nihil me paenitet hujus nasi"; "Here's Another Nice Mess You've Gotten Me Into"; "Cruel Is A Matter of Perspective"; "Wrote My Will Across The Sky In Stars"; and "We Can't Stop Here! This Is Bat Country!"
The following previews from "Closed" have been approved for general audiences:
** If there's one thing my tennis career taught me, it's that Sartre was correct when he wrote, "L'enfer, c'est les autres."
** You know things are surreal when Michael Jackson is the only person you have encountered over the whole summer who has treated you like a normal human being.
** A successful marriage is based on equal parts of romance and respect. Andre calls me his Goddess and I call him my Fanboy.
** Then they want me to be on the players' council or whatever it's called. Yeah, me. I'm just a teenaged Realschule dropout, and they want me to make decisions about how to run women's tennis. That's when I knew tennis was doomed. Of course, it didn't go over well when I asked them if they had ever heard of the phrase "conflict of interest." It went over even less well when I asked the head guy what we were paying him for if he wants the players to run things. Typical CEO. At least they finally stopped asking me to go those soul-crushing meetings after I went to one and feigned death for the duration.
Come on, I know how many people out there complain about their television commentary. So you can imagine how horrific it is to be trapped a room with all of them, forced to listen to them babble about nothing for hours on end.
** Once, when we were still juniors playing in Miami at the Orange Bowl, I dangled Mary Joe Fernandez by her braid over the alligator pit at the Seaquarium. You can't start establishing dominance over your rivals too soon.
** When she thought no one was looking, Pam Shriver would pull out a picture of Michael Dukakis, sigh longingly and even caress the photo. At the time, I didn't even know who he was or why she was trying to keep it secret; I just naively figured she was worried about public opinion if everyone found out she had the hots for some guy. So I said to her, "It's 1988 and it's OK to be openly heterosexual in women's tennis thanks to players like Chris Evert. People will accept your lifestyle -- or they won't even care because it's not like you are a star or have much of a future anymore. So don't worry." It was only much later that I learned about the whole Democrat versus Republican game in American politics. Wonder how a WASPish Republican cheerleader teaming up with a liberal-leaning immigrant lesbian worked...
** If I can ever get proof positive about who took that pool-side photograph of my bare backside, I'm going to come for him with a helicopter of my own and put one of the skids right up his ass. Then I'll take a picture of it.
** Little known is the fact that I went to Bollettieri's tennis academy as well, albeit briefly, because, as Andre described, it was really only a place to pick up bad habits. Then my father sent me to a remote mountain in Japan where I was tutored by a group of sage Yamabushi in both martial arts and esoteric Buddhist and Daoist philosophy and learned how to enter a state of mushin no shin. The idea being that if somehow my tennis career didn't work out, I could become a ninja. Because ninja was second on my list of things I wanted to be when I grew up. The third was veterinarian and the fourth was pirate.¹ (Footnoted: ¹The fifth and sixth were, respectively, Pippi Longstocking, as she is called in English, and the television show version of Morticia Addams. Eventually, I found out they weren't real jobs, but you must admit I did pretty well at combining those two characters for my public persona.)
** I thought they were the greatest ever Halloween costumes for us. Andre was Jeff Tarango, complete with Breathe Right Nasal Strip. Gil Reyes was Bruno Rebeuh, complete with red handprint stenciled on his cheek. I was Benedicte Tarango. I thought about inviting Alex Mronz over to play himself, but decided that would be really, really awkward, so we got Darren Cahill for that part. Only five people knew what we were referring to, though.
** Down 4-5, 0-15 in the second set against Hingis in the 1999 French Open final, I said to myself, "Hold on! She is not really Swiss. She is originally from Czechoslovakia -- and she is serving for the match! Now I have her right where I want her."
** Ron [Swanson] is a great guy. I see a little bit of myself in him. We're both somewhat prickly, maybe due to experiences beyond our control, but we're really not mean. Although I do wish I had thought of a swivel-mounted shotgun for my press conferences. At the time, that would have made my life so much easier.
** Every time I had so much as a double digit winning streak going, the tennis press always seemed to pipe up with "Graf is killing tennis. Help! Help! They're being repressed! Did you see her repressing them? You saw her, didn't you?" articles. Yeah, blame it all on big, bad, despotic Graf and never once mention the professional short-comings of the people on the other side of the net. Oh, no. That would hurt too many people's egos and wallets. Bloody peasants.
** I always told the tournament support staff that I'll win this match in 60 minutes or less or your pizza is free. Not great pizza, mind you, because that's a lot of people to buy pizza for, but decent pizza. That's why I always hated it when my opponents stalled between points.
** To all those people who persistently complained that I didn't look like I enjoyed playing tennis, all I can say is: Would you please look at my feet? Pick just about any match that doesn't involve my kneecap popping off and watch how I move. I dance. I gambol. I frolic. I am an exultation of energy. Do you think I would move like that if I didn't enjoy playing? I thought not.
And, is it not possible that so many of the players commonly thought to exhibit a zest for tennis by their tantrums, gamesmanship, vulgar gestures, and other antics are acting that way because they do not really enjoy playing tennis? Rationally considered, people who are screaming threats or insults are not enjoying themselves. So would you all please shut up about it now?
** I stepped into my tennis skirt one leg at a time, the same as everyone else. Except I usually wore a wrap-around skirt. I guess that metaphor really fell apart, didn't it?
** I felt so bad for Monica while she was sitting out, but I didn't know what to do for her. So each year, I sent her an anonymous gift subscription to one of those cheesecake of the month clubs. When she finally returned to competitive tennis, I took one look at her waistline and cringed. But then I decided to renew the cheesecake subscription and also add one for glazed hams.
** International Management Group was trying to sign me. We will make you into an even bigger star, they said. Wow, talk about completely misunderstanding me. It should have been obvious to them that that was a total turn-off for me. And let's not forget constantly trying to impress me with their pact with Yog Sothoth! I made it clear to them from the start that I have no interest in eldritch abominations, and that any kind of association with such beings is guaranteed to end badly.
** I could never understand the players who enjoyed the whole schmooze-with-the-press routine. Our tournaments are held in some of the most interesting and lively cities in the world, but they want to spend the afternoon or evening in a claustrophobic room, listening to themselves talk? When they near the end of their lives, they will wish they had those afternoons and evenings back, in order to do something more meaningful with them. And they call me a tennis machine or inhuman -- which, although I know it was meant to hurt my feelings or vilify me in the eyes of the public, never seemed an insult to me. Quite the contrary, given the actions and beliefs of far too much of the human population. Plus, such characterizations of me scared the hell out of most of my opponents, including the ones who called me those names in the first place. That's yet another example of how awesome I am: Even their attempts to deride me backfired.
** To this day, I'm asked if there is anything I regret about my tennis career. To be honest, just one thing. I never managed to hit the ball back into Sanchez Vicario's silly little ball holder. If I could have done that -- and I came so freaking close once during the 1994 Australian Open final -- it would have been shown on sports highlight reels forever!
** As the 1992 Wimbledon Ball was nearing its end and we all sat and chatted over empty crème brûlée ramekins, Andre looked at me with eyes that can only be described as shining with hope, and said, "It's still a little early. We're young, rich, and full of sugar. What do we do?"
And I, being young, rich, and full of sugar (not to mention champagne), stood up and shouted, "Let's go crazy Broadway style!" I then burst into renditions of "If a Girl Isn't Pretty," "I'm the Greatest Star," and "You Are Woman, I Am Man." Andre just stared in shock and stammered random syllables, which puzzled me greatly because I thought he liked Streisand...
** The US Open does prepare you well for dealing with small children. While there you experience the whole gamut: inconsolable sobbing, hysterical laughter, inexplicable clumsiness, projectile vomiting, drooling, uncontrolled bowels and bladders, maniacal fits of temper, tender displays of affection, total lack of forethought, irrational beliefs, inane or impossible-to-answer questions -- and that is just what you encounter in the room where the press interviews the players.
** I must stress the importance of getting a second, or even third, medical opinion. For instance, after the first surgeon I consulted for my knee operation described his procedure in detail to me, I was left wondering, "But if our knees bent the other way, how would we ride a bicycle?"
** Given that I love dogs and snow and ice, one of my dreams for the future is to compete in the Iditarod. By that I mean harness myself to a sled and race against the dog teams. It will be fair, if they give the dogs a 25 mile head start.
Excerpted from "Closed" by Stefanie Graf. Copyright 2013 by Stefanie Graf. Excerpted by permission of Narrenschiff, a division of Markante Unwahrheit, GmbH. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Last edited by Ms. Anthropic; Apr 1st, 2013 at 12:50 PM.