XTN: I think I would like watching Steffi play on any surface- sand, water, a rice paddy- but I think I liked her grass matches the most! Steffi made very fast adjustments that you have to make if you are going to succeed on a surface that has poor bounces and where the ball moves so fast. I was a nervous wreck watching her eke out the 1991 final against Gaby, but I smiled throughout most of her 1992 win over Monica. The matches against Jana had me nervous, but the 1996 QF was a fabulous display. I truly believe that the 1997 title would have been Steffi's, as Jana wasn't mentally or physically tough enough to snatch it and Hingis' play didn't sparkle, but there are no repeats in careers. 1998, then, was disappointing, as Steffi had looked good enough in the first two rounds to be a winner. It wasn't meant to be, as Natasha experienced a late-career boost and Steffi wasn't fully back on track in her comeback until the indoor season (although she had a nice tournament in New Haven). 1999 was bittersweet for me. I saw Steffi's first round match live, and it was the only time in my ten years of following her career that I got to watch her in person. What a place to fit in the experience right before her retirement! I distinctly remember her feet moving VERY quickly and her slice just skimming the net. Sure, her forehand and serve were big, but the feet and the slice stick out in my memory. Some fans have written that they found her final loss to Lindsay somehow fitting; if I remember correctly, some have written that it represents Steffi's lack of an obsession with records and making others (fans!) happy with her decisions. I feel differently. Steffi was such a great grass court player that to end her career with eight Wimbledon singles titles and back-to-back Grand Slam tournament victories would have left me even more satisfied than I am with her career. I also would have liked for her to have capped her record against Lindsay with a win, as Steffi's body broke down a lot against Lindsay in 1998, and Lindsay was very quick to point out that she didn't feel that she received for her wins from Steffi's press conferences. Steffi is such a great athlete that for her to lose to a slow player at Wimbledon didn't (and still doesn't) feel right.
Anyway, since I have had the chance to see some Steffi grass matches (bad word play, I know) ipso facto, I have found her to be just as compelling pre-1990. One of her most impressive displays was surely her 1988 win against Martina. She showed exceptional athleticism and tennis skills.
Regarding the 1998 Eastbourne match against Anna Kournikova: I haven't seen it yet, but I think that most of it is on YouTube (it seems some has been edited out). I think that at the time, Anna's career could have gone in the direction of top 5 in singles, and I agree with those who believe that her thumb injury severely derailed her momentum and confidence. I hope to find the time to watch the match, as it is also noteworthy for Steffi's intense anger over line calls. Maybe Steffi's increased questioning of calls in the last 12 months of her career was a result of feeling like her body and playing level were so shaky and prone to go off that she would not accept a further obstacle in the form of bad calls.
Here's something from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwbSHTvbK74