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post #2956 of 6247 (permalink) Old Sep 30th, 2013, 12:32 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

The line has indeed been crossed. Around this time, the international governing body for swimming has just voted to remove the word "amateur" from its name and its rules. Some of the Olympic athletes are complaining that they don't have the opportunity to go pro in their sport even though it's obvious someone is making money from their labors, so other sports federations with amateur restrictions are likely feeling the heat. There can be no going back, just as in tennis in 1968.

To be simultaneously fair and catty to Evert, her figurative tennis odometer had reached 1,000,000 miles years ago. She has been saying she has difficulty getting "psyched up" for matches, sometimes even at the majors and/or against top rivals, for years. Yes, she's jaded, and that's a big problem because she's a professional entertainer, but she's jaded about everything, not just the Olympics. She's a highly exceptional case. Steffi is certainly giving it everything she has, and if she sounds like a punch-drunk fighter, it's because of everything she's gone through in the past two months, not because she doesn't care about the Olympics.

SPORTS OF THE TIMES; Crossing The Magic Line
George Vecsey
September 30, 1988
New York Times

SEOUL, South Korea— THERE will barely be time for Cynthia Cooper to unpack her bags in Los Angeles before she has to leave for Italy. This is the bitter reality for the best female basketball players in the United States, where there is no place to play after college ball.

No time to visit friends, no time to display the gold medal she won yesterday when the United States beat Yugoslavia in the final.

''I can average 40 points in Italy but I never get the full joy from it,'' Cooper said. ''In the States, I could be like Magic Johnson, not that I'm that good. . . .''

Most of the American men, who lost to a deserving Soviet team in the semifinals on Wednesday, will soon be attending their first professional training camp, the big time for them.

But the 12 American women felt like Magic Johnson winning a second straight National Basketball Association title last June. This is what the Olympics are supposed to be: the biggest event in all the sports that were formerly called ''amateur.''

For better and for worse, that term so beloved in the age of Avery Brundage has almost no usefulness in the era of Juan Antonio Samaranch. More than half the women on the United States team earn quite liveable salaries in Italy or Japan.

''It's easy money,'' admitted Jennifer Gillom, who plays in Bologna, Italy. ''A couple of games a week, practice, lots of time.''

For these nomads, there are foreign leagues, and the world championships, and the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle, and the Summer Games every four years.

For canoers and kayakers, archers and equestrians, weight lifters and wrestlers, the Summer Games are it. They materialize into our consciousness once every four years, so skilled and so eager.

But there is a level of athlete that already has other summits, bigger payoffs, deeper thrills. There is no easy way to define who they are, except to say, as former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart is believed to have said about obscenity, ''I can't define it, but I know it when I see it.''

YOU could call it the Gretzky Gap. The Connors Chasm. The Valenzuela Valley. The Maradona Measure. This week it was surely The Evert Edge. Nothing personal against Mrs. Johnson's son Earvin, but you could also call it The Magic Line.

There is a grade of professional for whom the Olympic Games would be a cute diversion, an extra honor, perhaps a noblesse oblige, a national responsibility, or just another business trip. That was what Evert made it sound like this week when she was eliminated from the first gold-medal Olympic tennis event since 1924.

''It's very difficult when you are a tennis player and you have great tournaments like Wimbledon, the United States Open, the French, to get 100 percent psyched up for the Olympics,'' Evert said, albeit after losing to the unseeded Raffaella Reggi.

Evert's belated desire to be an Olympian - or more likely her advisors telling her it would be good business - caused Elise Burgin, a respected but unspectacular professional, to be crudely bumped from the team.

For Burgin, the Games would have been a gas. Even Steffi Graf, one match away from the Golden Slam, sounds like a punch-drunk fighter trying to stay on her feet at the end of a 15-round championship brawl.

Although the networks would surely love to have Wayne Gretzky and Larry Bird and Darryl Strawberry in the Olympics, it is important for big-buck sports to show some restraint.

Socialist countries like the Soviet Union, the German Democratic Republic and absent Cuba have developed state athletes for whom the Summer and Winter Games are the ultimate goal. Wait until the Soviet Union gets the hang of baseball in a decade or two.

But Mark Marquess, the baseball coach from Stanford University, who led the United States to a demonstration-sport gold medal on Wednesday, put in a huge plug for college players to continue to represent the United States.

''I believe 19- and 20-year-olds would have more enthusiasm than older players,'' Marquess said. ''I want it to stay the way it is.''

THERE is serious movement to open the Summer Games even more. Marginal pro hockey players carpetbagged into the Winter Games last February. And yesterday Borislav Stankovitz of Yugoslavia, the general secretary of the world basketball federation, endorsed crossing the Magic Line.

Stankovitz said the board would meet in April to consider accepting full-fledged professionals into world events. The Soviet Union has proposed limiting the 1990 world championship teams to two professionals each.

Stankovitz explained why he favors admitting professionals:

''There are no longer any basketball players who do not receive some money,'' he began. ''Also, we have over 200 million people playing basketball around the world but outside this large family there are only 300 players - the best players in the world. This is absurd.

''And technically speaking, the professional teams are stronger than ours, but we believe that all players should play against the best. If we admit professionals, once again the Americans will be the strongest. But that gap will be reduced.''

Stankovitz makes good sense on all three points, but he overlooks the attitude of professionals, or soon-to-be professionals. While John Thompson's selection and coaching must be questioned, the real problem may have been that these 12 players had more important career tests ahead of them. For them, this may have been an interesting summer interlude, at best. Now they go on to see if they can handle Michael Jordan.

The most respectful thing anybody could do for the Olympic movement is to make each category be the highest competition for all the players, not another whistlestop on a tour. Evert, one of the great competitors in sport, could not get up for the Summer Games. It's called The Magic Line.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

"We've tried to come to these Games humble," said Phillipe Chatrier, and the ITF and IOC very much lucked out in having the right group for the first high profile, above-the-table professional athletes to pull that off. And even that wasn't a given because they were still tennis players and thus not the most docile and predictable of species. Even (especially?) Steffi, who, as Martin Amis noted with some glee, "generally shows little interest in disguising her feelings. She quite lacks the PR burnish of the American girls." That whole Graf-Evert-Sabatini-Shriver Top 4 could have devolved into very public displays of embarrassingly harsh honesty, fury, egotism, ennui, sulking, and childishness.

Tennis tries to serve Olympics
The Orange County Register
Friday, September 30, 1988
Mark Whicker

Tennis? In the Olympics? Easier to imagine Don King in church.

Given the five Olympic rings, the typical tennis pro would summon an appraiser. He (or she) would demand that the Olympic torch quit burning during his serve. He'd commission Iron Maiden or Quiet Riot to rewrite the Olympic theme.

In the non-boxing category, tennis wins the triple crown for sleaze, greed and petulance.

Yet here, thrust into a tidy little stadium at the edge of Olympic Park, tennis has actually behaved itself. While Ben Johnson drags the Games into drugs, and nearly every boxing decision should be headed for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, tennis actually takes on the look of apple pie.

Miloslav Mecir of Czechoslovakia dissected Tim Mayotte of the United States to win the men's singles gold, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2. When Mayotte netted match point, the usually drowsy Mecir skyrocketed his racket into the sunshine, forgetting that he had just given something for nothing, at least nothing that pays.

The medal ceremony even made you smile.

When it came time to introduce the bronze medalists (they were semifinal losers, and there is no consolation match), the girl on the microphone mentioned Brad Gilbert of the United States but not Stefan Edberg of Sweden. Gilbert took the stand, waited, didn't hear Edberg's name, got off the stand, and wouldn't get back on until Edberg joined him. If you've seen Gilbert whine his way through quarterfinal losses at Flushing Meadow, you realized, just then, that nobody's immune to the Olympic spirit.

Today, Steffi Graf and Gabriela Sabatini replay their US Open final in the women's gold match. Graf, who won the gold when tennis was a demonstration sport in Los Angeles four years ago, has just finished taking the four Grand Slam tournaments. She could have rested. She could have signed endorsement contracts. Instead she came here, as did Wimbledon men's champ Edberg, Chris Evert, Pam Shriver, Manuela Maleeva and Henri Leconte, millionaires all. And was Graf up for it? "I couldn't see the ball," Zina Garrison complained after Graf walloped her in 45 minutes.

The South Koreans love it. They've bought 77 percent of the available tennis tickets, compared with 37 percent of the baseball seats. The tennis stadium had fewer empties than did the Olympic Stadium when Johnson beat Carl Lewis in the 100 meters.

All of which thrilled Phillippe Chatrier, head of the International Tennis Federation.

"The Olympics are getting rid of the last remnants of hypocrisy (in sports)," Chartrier said Friday.

"(IOC president) Juan Antonio Samaranch is committed to doing that. The athletics (track and field) competition is dominated by professionals. So are most other events. Here, everything is over the table.

"And, unlike one person we all know (Johnson), our tennis players are clean." Chatrier fervently crossed his fingers. "We hope."

There were scores that made you wonder. Unknown Carl-Uwe Steeb of West Germany knocked off Sweden's world-class Anders Jarryd, who, like Edberg, is wearing the colors of a Sweden in which he no longer lives. And South Korean Kim Bong Soo eliminated Leconte. Evert, of course, disintegrated in a loss to Italy's Raffaela Reggi.

But Mayotte, for one, claimed he was fired up from the moment he got here. "And that is why he is in the finals," Chatrier said.

The tennis pros knew they had to win the hearts and minds of resentful rowers, kayakers, table tennis players and taekwondo artists who have to hone their skills after an eight-hour day. Even the impoverished Edwin Moses said, "I don't think the professionalism of track athletes is an issue with Chris Evert here."

"But our players, for the most part, have lived in the Olympic Village," Chatrier said. "They have enjoyed it. They have made friends with other athletes. The world has seen that they are young athletes who fit in.

"We are here on an experimental basis. The players who came here this year came with good taste. Next time (in Barcelona) it will be a must to play here."

Really? Next time the Olympics will return to its customary July dates, between Wimbledon and the US Open. It also will conflict with Grand Prix events in the United States. Chatrier said, "some intelligent work with the calendar" would avoid conflicts, but it's hard to spurn Indianapolis cash when only medallions will be on the line in Spain.

Chatrier, however, is looking beyond that, to a lode of worldwide talent that could further enrich the game.

"Two to 3 billion people watch the Olympics on TV," said Chatrier, who got the idea for Olympic tennis from Soviet tennis officials. "That is more, far more, than we reach with our four Grand Slam tournaments.

"You look at China, with all the people there. Countries like Kenya and God-knows-where. We estimate that joining the Olympics has the capacity to double the number of tennis players in the world. Countries see the chance to be in the Olympics, to fulfill their dreams. They will start building courts and organizing programs. Obviously, it is a great opportunity."

Wisely, Chatrier limited the competition to singles and doubles and did not deal in team competition. There is one of those anyway, called the Davis Cup.

"We did not want to eliminate the possibility of a person getting the chance for a gold medal," Chatrier said. "We did not want a lot of medals, like other sports have, because that would tend to devalue them."

The players even compromised on the logo problem. They agreed to wear only a small advertisement somewhere on their clothing. Fortunately, Bjorn Borg is retired.

Mecir won his gold on a day when the Soviets won men's basketball, when the world nervously awaited the results of Florence Griffith Joyner's last drug test, when rumors of violence at Sunday's marathon were everywhere.

Tennis sat in its little corner and stayed quiet.

"We know we are not the biggest thing in the Olympics," Phillipe Chatrier said. "We know the Olympics are bigger than everything."

Can golf be far behind?
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post #2958 of 6247 (permalink) Old Oct 1st, 2013, 01:01 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

The career in one year! Time to give the cumulative and culminant effort and achievement a soundtrack! I know Steffi is probably more of a C.S. Lewis person, but here goes:

Graf is champ here, too - Win over Sabatini caps 'Golden Slam'
The San Diego Union
Saturday, October 1, 1988
Mark Zeigler, Staff Writer

The Australian Open. The French Open. Wimbledon. The U.S. Open. The Olympic Games.

West Germany's Steffi Graf , 19-year-old queen of the tennis world, won them all -- the "Golden Slam," as it is called -- not in a decade or a lifetime, but in one year.

"That's amazing," Graf admitted after defeating Argentina's Gabriela Sabatini 6-3, 6-3 in the Olympic gold-medal match yesterday. "I think it is something not many people after me will achieve."

Graf completed the Grand Slam last month when she beat Sabatini in the U.S. Open final. But the Grand Slam had been done five times before, twice by women. No one, however, had won an Olympic gold medal the same year.

Tennis returned as an official medal sport for the first time since 1924. In 1984 at Los Angeles, it was a demonstration sport, and Graf won that title, too.

The victory was Graf's 40th straight in singles this year. She has lost only twice in 68 matches, both times to Sabatini.

"I thought I was going to make it a better match," said Sabatini, who extended Graf to three sets at the U.S. Open. "She played much better than the last time I played her. She did not make many mistakes with her forehand. I had a chance in the first set and then I had to run after a lot of balls."

Graf's forehand will do that to you.

Graf, fittingly, ended the 81-minute match on a forehand that Sabatini could only hit into the stands. She did her customary hop and skip to the net, smiled, shook Sabatini's hand and rushed into the stands to hug her father.

Sabatini, with the silver, became the first Argetine to win a medal since the 1972 rowing team.

"For my country, it means very much," said Sabatini, 18. "For a long time, we could not win a medal. I feel very happy to be the one."

Sabatini led by a service break midway through the first set. But even then she began to tire and Graf began to pound the forehand that is as legendary as it is lethal. Graf won 14 of the next 16 points and the final four games of the set.

Graf continued to drive Sabatini from corner to corner, tossing an occasional drop shot (her latest weapon) into the mix. "I was making her run around and I thought that she won't be able to keep up," Graf explained.

Sabatini stayed even until the fifth game, when Graf broke serve. Sabatini lost serve again in the ninth.

"I was really tired coming here," Graf said. "I'm just happy to get it done."

Late last night, Ken Flach and Robert Seguso of the United States won the gold medal in men's doubles, beating Spaniards Emilio Sanchez and Sergio Casal 6-3, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7. Flach and Seguso were serving for the match at 5-4 and 7-6 in the fifth set but were broken both times.

Casal and Sanchez won the silver.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Let me point out the women's singles final was played the day after the men's singles final. Scheduled that way long in advance.

OLYMPICS '88 - Graf adds a gold to tennis treasures
Houston Chronicle
Saturday, OCTOBER 1, 1988
Andrew Warshaw, The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea - Steffi Graf climbed a tennis pedestal all her own and said the view was "amazing.''

The 19-year-old West German captured the Olympic women's singles title in the same dominating fashion she displayed in sweeping the four major professional championships.

Normally a paragon of modesty, the tennis star showed some pride in her unprecedented achievement.

"I am very excited. I think it's something that not many people after me will achieve, winning the Grand Slam first and the gold medal afterward,'' Graf said. "That's amazing.

"I came here feeling tired and not expecting too much of myself. I was just hoping to get through here, so it is really amazing."

Graf won the tennis title in 1984 at Los Angeles, when it was a demonstration sport. This time, it was for real, and so was Steffi, sweeping aside Gabriela Sabatini 6-3, 6-3.

Sabatini won the silver, Argentina's first Olympic medal in 16 years. "For my country, it means very much," Sabatini said. "For a long time, we could not win a medal. I feel very happy to be the one."

Zina Garrison of the United States and Manuela Maleeva of Bulgaria, the losing semifinalists, each won a bronze.

Graf has won more than $3 million in her young career, but the money isn't gold.

"The money does not matter,'' Graf said. "It is something I did not think about at all.''

Graf, who has lost only two of 68 matches this year, both times to Sabatini, spotted her rival an early 3-2 lead on the hardcourt at Olympic Park before winning 15 of the last 16 points in the opening set.

Graf lost the first three points of last night's match with three straight errors on serve, then hit her stride.

She saved all three break points, two of them with dashing forehand winners, and immediately got to work on Sabatini.

"I had a very good feeling after the first three or four games," said Graf. "I was feeling very comfortable. I was making her run around and I thought she won't be able to keep it up."

Sabatini, who said she was ready to run her legs off to avenge her U.S. Open defeat and take the gold medal, had to do just that. But it did no good.

She tried to force the play, but lacked Graf's power or accuracy. Sabatini could not have realized just how much of a pounding her legs would take.

By the end, Sabatini was stretching not only for Graf's devastating forehand, but also for a well-executed slice backhand and deft drop shots.

"She played much better than the last time I played her," Sabatini said. "She did not make many mistakes with her forehand. I had a chance in the first set and then . . . I had to run after a lot of balls. I got tired."

Graf won the match with a forehand service return down the middle that Sabatini could only lunge at.

The match lasted 1 hour, 21 minutes and made Graf the first women's Olympic gold medalist in tennis since Helen Wills of the United States in 1924 and the first player to win an Olympic title and the Grand Slam.

Tennis returned to the Olympic Games as a demonstration sport four years ago in Los Angeles, when Graf won the women's singles.

But this was a far more significant triumph. Not only was the Slam and the gold a first of its kind, but Graf surged to her Olympic title through a very strong field.

With the exception of second-ranked Martina Navratilova, who passed up the Games, the women's field included the other seven top women's players in the world. Graf swept through with the loss of just one set, to Larisa Savchenko in the quarterfinals.

The triumph marked Graf's 40th consecutive match victory and her 14th victory in 16 matches over her teen-age rival, Sabatini.

Sabatini and Graf stayed on serve through four games, when Sabatini broke for a 3-2 lead as Graf netted a forehand.

Graf broke right back and quickly wrapped up the set. She ripped through the last four games of the set, losing only two of the last 16 points. Sabatini never got a break after that.

Sabatini's last lead was on serve at 2-1 in the second set. Graf broke for a 3-2 lead, then saved two break points to hold for 4-2 and again for a 5-3 lead. She saved both games the same way - a drop shot, followed by a blistering forehand pass.

Graf then broke for the match.

Graf said she began feeling confident after the third game of the match but did not know she had it won until reaching 5-3 in the final set.

"I tried from the beginning to go from her forehand to her backhand, and once in a while throw in a drop shot in between and a hard shot when I got a chance. That was my tactic," Graf said. "That was my plan and it worked out well."

Graf, meanwhile, said she's not through making history.

"I don't have any motivation problems," she said. "There are many tournaments coming up. Next year is a different year, and I'm going to try to go for everything again."

In the women's doubles, Zina Garrison of Houston and Pam Shriver teamed for a 4-6, 6-2, 10-8 win for the United States over Helena Sukova and Jana Novotna of Czechoslovakia.

Miloslav Mecir of Czechoslovakia won the men's singles gold 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 over Tim Mayotte of Springfield, Mass.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Steffi's timing thrilled more than just the fans. To have a true Grand Slam occur in an Olympic year, and to have that Slam winner (and sort-of defending gold medalist) also win the gold medal and be enthusiastic about it, thus conferring a legitimacy and boosting future desirableness, was beyond the ITF's and the IOC's wildest dreams when they were wrangling this all out.

Also counted among the thrilled was Tennis Australia, whose state-of-the-art tennis park and renewed combined event were rewarded with a blunt reminder to the players and the encroaching upstart tournaments that the Australian Open IS one of the four majors; likewise the precedent for using the retractable roof has been set. Any dithering about it can be met with, "Well, it was part of Graf's Slam." If someone were writing this as a work of fiction, it would be rejected for the coincidences of timing being too far-fetched.

THE SEOUL GAMES : Women's Tennis : Graf Turns Her Slam Into a Golden One
October 1, 1988
BILL DWYRE, Sports Editor
Los Angeles Times

SEOUL — Since most people, writers included, have long ago run out of superlatives for her, Steffi Graf helped everybody out here Saturday, shortly after she had won the Olympic gold medal in women's singles.

"I'm very excited that I achieved this now," she said. "It is something that not many people after me will be able to achieve, I think. It is amazing."

Amazing, indeed, Super Fraulein.

Her 6-3, 6-3 blitz of Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina in the Olympic final, before a full house of 9,773 at Olympic Stadium should go down in sports record books as a major achievement.

At 19, Graf has won the Grand Slam of tennis, taking titles in the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open this year. Then she added the Olympic gold medal in the same year. The only other woman [sic] to win a Grand Slam was Margaret Court of Australia, and when she did it, in 1970, tennis wasn't in the Olympics, nor was it an Olympic year. So not only has Graf been blessed with talent like few before her, she has also been blessed with great timing.

But with Graf, timing hasn't been everything. She is a product of a father who has driven her to excellence, while staying by her side.

Dennis Klein, a free-lance photographer who has followed her, talked Friday about his days with the Grafs. He said that Graf was programmed, in all the positive ways, for her current success.

"I was there when she won her first tournament," said Klein. "I can remember it like it was yesterday. She was 4 1/2 years old, and when she won the tournament and I photographed her afterward, the trophy was about 6 inches taller than she was."

Klein said that, from the moment Graf could walk, her father, Peter Graf, had her out on the tennis courts. He had been a player himself, and his daughter was going to learn the game his way, Klein said.

"I was there when she played in her first pro tournament," Klein said. "It was in Stuttgart, and she was either 11 or had just turned 12. She played Tracy Austin in the first round, and that was when Tracy Austin was at the top of her game, maybe the best in the world.

"Well, Steffi lost, but it was close. Either a close two sets or it went to a third. And I remember it so well, because afterward, she was so angry about losing. There was none of this stuff about feeling good for a good match against one of the top players in the world. She thought she should have won.

"A week or so later, I took her some of the pictures from that match. She was nice and everything when I gave them to her, but when I walked away a little distance and she didn't think I was looking, she tore the pictures up."

That kind of competitive drive remains to this day. Perhaps it burns even hotter. In her press conference after beating Sabatini, she was asked about playing here for no money.

"I don't think about the money," she said. "I wanted to win the gold medal. I care more about winning than about making money."

To Vince Lombardi and Steffi Graf then, winning isn't everything, it's the only thing. And winning she has done. Her current streak is 40 matches. Her record this year is 66-2. The last time she lost was in April, to Sabatini, at Amelia Island, Fla. Her other loss this year was also to Sabatini.

Graf played the final here Saturday like she remembered both.

She actually suffered a service break at 2-2 of the first set. But she quickly broke back, almost as if to demonstrate to Sabatini that she should harbor no illusions of grandeur. On break point with Sabatini serving at 3-2, Graf took the Argentine's second serve and rammed it past Sabatini's forehand along the baseline so fast that Sabatini barely had time to lunge.

Then Graf held at love in a game that took less than a minute, broke Sabatini at 15-40 in the next game and efficiently served out the first set at 6-3.

From the time she got to deuce on Sabatini's serve at 3-2 until she won the first set, Graf ran off 9 points in a row and 13 of the last 15.

In the second set, Graf broke Sabatini at 2-2 by taking a second serve on break point, whipping it to her opponent's forehand side, then jumping on the return for a shot to Sabatini's backhand corner. At this point, Sabatini went into a sulk that continued well into the medal ceremony.

"After the first couple of games, I was feeling quite well," Graf said. "Then, when I got to 5-3 of the first set, I knew I had it. I was trying early to let her (make her) run. That was my plan. I didn't think she could keep it up all the way."

Graf said later that she would fly back to West Germany, play some exhibitions and probably take some time off. She also said that, having accomplished what she has this year, she plans on just trying to do more of the same next year.

"I enjoy playing tennis," she said. "I know I've played a lot, but I have no motivation problems to play more."

That's amazing, too.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

The Dallas Morning News
Saturday, October 1, 1988
Michael Weiss

SEOUL, South Korea -- Grand slam champion Steffi Graf of West Germany on Friday (Saturday in Seoul) became the first tennis player to win both the Grand Slam and Olympic gold medal in the same year.

She defeated the No. 3 seed in the Olympics, Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina, 6-3, 6-3, in a workmanlike display lasting 1 hour, 21 minutes.

In defeat, Sabatini claimed Argentina's first Olympic medal of any kind in 16 years.

Graf overcame Zina Garrison of the United States in the semifinal, 6-2, 6-0, to advance to the finals, while Sabatini had defeated Manuela Maleeva of Bulgaria, 6-1, 6-1.

Garrison and Maleeva were both awarded bronze medals.

Graf, who beating Sabatini in the finals of the U.S. Open last month, successfully plotted to keep her opponent moving during their medal match Friday.

"I was trying in the beginning to make her run, to make her go from forehand to backhand,'' she said. "I had a lot of chances to come to the net today, but I wanted to make her run.''

Sabatini, while claiming no frustration at her performance, said she was disappointed.

"I thought I was going to make a better match,'' she said. "I thought I was going to win the match . . . .

"I wanted to win the gold medal. I did a lot of things wrong today.''

The match began with half the seats at center court in the Tennis Stadium empty and with Graf serving in the hazy sunshine. It ended with a drained Sabatini pushing a backhand shot into the net.

In a replay of Graf's semifinal match with Garrison, the gold-medal winner quickly forced Sabatini to move side to side with deep volleys and sharp baseline shots.

The exchanges kept Sabatini on the defensive, unable to establish her rhythm or gain net position.

Even when Sabatini successfully broke Graf's serve in the first set with the score deadlocked, 2-2, she hardly appeared in control.

In one of her rare successes at maintaining net position, Sabatini matched Graf's baseline shots and kept the frustrated West German off-balance. Graf could only shake her head after popping an ordinary return into the net, giving Sabatini the advantage.

"I thought I had a chance there when I broke her,'' Sabatini said, "but I couldn't do anything.''

But Graf quickly returned, drawing Sabatini back into a baseline contest she could control and breaking the Argentine's service in the next game.

Graf sounded surprised at her own success.

"I came here really tired and not expecting much,'' she said. "I don't have any motivational problems. I enjoy playing tennis.''

In defeat, Sabatini attributed her loss to her opponent.

"She played much better than the last time I played her,'' Sabatini said. "She ran me. I was tired. I couldn't come back.''

The two have met 15 times, most recently earlier in the month in the finals of the U.S. Open, won by Graf, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

With Saturday's victory, Graf holds a 14-2 advantage in her series with Sabatini.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Saturday, October 1, 1988

SEOUL - It's the moments, fleeting but dripping with barely perceptible significance, that break the bridesmaids and crown the champions.

Steffi Graf, who has captured more than her share this year, faced yet another decisive instant in the eighth game of yesterday's Olympic gold medal tennis final against Gabriela Sabatini.

The two teen-agers battled neck and neck, staying on serve through the first seven games. With Sabatini serving to square the first set at 4-all, Graf broke her in a flash. First, the West German coaxed Sabatini to the net, then forced her to flub a half-volley. Graf drew the Argentine to the net again, then rifled a forehead passing shot.

Ruffled, Sabatini committed an unforced backhand error during the next point. Graf sent a backhand return long, but came back with a crackling forehand that Sabatini was unable to handle. Sabatini's service, and perhaps her spirit, was broken.

Graf already had won tennis' Grand Slam with victories at the 1988 Australian, French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open championships. An Olympic gold in tennis, which had not be awarded in 64 years, would give her a rare, so-called Golden Slam. Her impetuous but dangerous challenger in the final, Sabatini, had been the only player to beat her (twice) this year.

The West German, 19, also faced the challenge of overcoming waning strength and motivation in the aftermath of clinching her Grand Slam in New York just weeks before the start of the Seoul Summer Games. She overcame all obstacles with characteristic aplomb.

"I came here really tired and not really expecting much from myself. I hoped to get as far as possible here. Now this,'' said Graf, who won the 1984 tournament in L.A. which was then a demonstration event and limited to players under 21.

"The way I was feeling, I was really down for some reason. I had to pick myself up and do my best.''

Sabatini, 18, whose second 1988 victory over Graf came on a cement surface similar to that used here, mustered one last assault at her rival. She opened the second set with a change of tactics, following her serves to the net instead of being satisfied trading groundstrokes from the baseline. The strategy worked well initially, but appeared eventually to take a toll on Sabatini's first-serve accuracy.

Still, Sabatini managed to force Graf into a clash of wills in the most epic game of the match, with Graf serving and leading 4-3 in the second set. Graf ended a 27-stroke rally, the longest of the day, and rescued a break point by powdering a forehand up the line. Apparently unrattled, Sabatini scrambled to win the next point, introducing to her arsenal a between-the-legs return of a Graf lob.

Graf immediately pulled the plug on any notions Sabatini, buoyed by the trick shot, may have had of seizing the momentum. Graf forced three advantages before taking the game when Sabatini nailed a first-serve return.

"She didn't play too well,'' Graf said of Sabatini. "I saw her getting tired at the end.''

From the very beginning of the match, Graf ingeniously set up Sabatini's fall by pinning her deep behind the baseline with laser-like forehands, then crossing her, back-and-forth, to induce fatigue. When Sabatini went to the attack in the second set, she chose her opportunities carelessly. Often, she was no more than a sitting duck for Graf's precision groundstrokes.

In addition to making history, Graf marshaled a level of performance most of her colleagues could not. The Olympic field was opened to professional players for the first time in history, yet no prize money was offered. That, plus the proximity of the U.S. Open, seemed to adversely affect the play of most of the competitors. Also, many amateur Olympians had spent the fortnight criticizing the presence of the professionals.

"It's been talked about too much,'' Graf said. "My feeling is, either only amateurs are allowed to play or all professionals are allowed in. I can't do anything about tennis (professionals) being in the Olympics, and not anybody else.

"It's very exciting,'' she added of her gold medal. "It's something not many people after me will be able to achieve, winning the Grand Slam first, then the gold medal afterward. It's amazing."
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

October 1, 1988
Graf Adds Gold to Her Grand '88 Record
"New York Times"

SEOUL, South Korea -- When she arrived in Seoul more than two weeks ago, an Olympic gold medal appeared out of reach for Steffi Graf. The pursuit of the Grand Slam had taken its toll, the mental and physical exhaustion having drained her of her customary resolve, eliminating the bounce in her step as she moves at that familiar, no-nonsense pace around a court. Perhaps she was trying to accomplish too much in one year, after all. "I came here really tired," Graf said. "I was not expecting too much of myself."

As the Olympics progressed, however, Graf slowly became rejunvenated. She is a track fan who could easily make the West German team, her father, Peter Graf, said. Steffi even went for some runs on the training track at the Athlete's Village, outpacing a former Olympian, Harald Schmid. Her enthusiasm returned and it showed on the court in her last two matches.

She played one of her best matches ever, defeating Zina Garrison in the semifinals. Then today, appearing more relaxed and uninhibited than she was during the United States Open final, Graf completed what probably will be regarded as the finest year ever in tennis, defeating Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina, 6-3, 6-3, to win the Olympic gold medal.

Thus, the 19-year-old Graf became the first player - male or female -to achieve the Golden Slam, the Grand Slam championship and gold medal. This is the first time in 64 years that tennis has been a medal sport in the Olympics so many of the legendary players never had the opportunity to do what she did. Still, that does not tarnish the remarkable year she has had, winning Wimbledon, the United States Open, French Open, Australian Open and now the gold. "I'm very excited," she said. "It's something not many people after me will achieve. It's amazing."

For the time being, at least, Graf has run out of challenges. Sabatini, who is 18, is considered the player with the best chance of challenging Graf for superiority during the next several years. She defeated Graf twice last March in Florida, but that seems like ancient history now. Graf said those losses were a warning that she was beginning to take things for granted, making her work with a renewed purpose.

That is why she does not envision any problem defending her wealth of
championships and No. 1 ranking next year. "I won't have any motivation problems," Graf said. "I enjoy playing tennis. It's what I want to do. Next year, there will be more tournaments."

Graf was criticized by some observers for lacking emotion when she defeated Sabatini in the Open final to win the first Grand Slam since Margaret Court of Australia did it in 1970. She was reserved again today, but smiled broadly and to the guests' seats, where she hugged her father and her coach, Pavel Slozil. During the medal ceremony, she held her gold medal for photographers and waved to the West Germans in the stands, some of whom were waving flags.

The match was closer than the scores might have indicated. Sabatini had several chances to be wearing the gold herself. She wasted three break points in the first game of the match, but broke Graf in the fifth game and was playing well enough to win. Graf broke back in the sixth game, forcing two errors by hitting the corners with her forehand. She broke Sabatini in the eighth game, again pressuring her opponent into making mistakes. In the Open, Graf appeared tentative at times, but today, she hit her groundstrokes with authority.

She closed out the first set with an ace, only six games left to achieve the Golden Slam. Sabatini recovered to split the first four games of the second set, but then was broken in the fifth, when Graf ran around her forehand on Sabatini's second serve, whipping a winner down the line.

Sabatini's last stand came when she held two break points in the eighth game, but Graf saved both. She broke Sabatini to win the gold, fittingly, with a forehand winner on match point. "I felt I would win after the fifth game of the second set," Graf said. "But I actually had a very good feeling after the first game of the match. I was liking the way I am playing." Graf has beaten Sabatini in 14 of 16 matches, but still respects her as the most dangerous opponent on the tour.

Sabatini's high bouncing, topspin forehand can be difficult to handle, and she may even be marginally better at the net. Of course, Graf does not have to come to the net, having the ability to overpower opponents from midcourt and the baseline.

She said she passed up several opportunities to approach today, preferring to make Sabatini run around the court. A lack of stamina has been Sabatini's undoing in several of their matches. "I wanted her to run," Graf said. "Maybe in the future, I will try to come to the net more."

Graf now has won 40 consecutive matches and is 66-2 for the year. She returns to West Germany to play two exhibitions against Sabatini next week, then will take time off. Her father said he will most likely withdraw her from a tournament in Zurich, Switzerland, later this month. She will go to New York for the Virginia Slims championships in November, the last major tournament of the year. She will not be faulted if it seems anticlimatic.

"I will take time off, see how I feel," she said. "It depends on me. I'll do whatever I feel like."
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post #2964 of 6247 (permalink) Old Oct 1st, 2013, 01:09 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

"And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer." -- Hans Gruber, Die Hard, 1988

"Great Alexander wept, and made sad mone (moan), because there was but one world to be wonne (won)." -- Robert Hayman, Quodlibets, Book II, 1628

"Alexander cried when he heard Anaxarchus talk about the infinite number of worlds in the universe. One of Alexander's friends asked him what was the matter, and he replied: 'There are so many worlds, and I have not yet conquered even one.' " -- Plutarch (c. 46 – 120 AD), Moralia

You can see how we've managed to turn that one on its head over the millennia. A variant article of the preceding one.

Saturday, October 1, 1988
New York Times News Service

There are no more worlds for Steffi Graf to conquer, at least not for the time being.

In what has probably been the most successful year any player has enjoyed in tennis, the 19-year-old West German completed the first Golden Slam today, adding the Olympic gold medal to her prize collection of championships, numbering Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the French Open and the Australian Open among them.

Graf defeated Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina, 6-3, 6-3, to win the gold, overpowering her 18-year-old rival with her patented forehand, the shot that has taken her to the top of the women's game, where she is unchallenged.

Thus, Graf became the first player, male or female, to win a Grand Slam and a gold medal at the Olympics.

She has lost only two matches in 1988, both to Sabatini. But those came last March in Florida, ancient history in the weekly grind of the tennis circuit.

Since losing those matches, Graf has defeated Sabatini three times, at the French Open, in the U.S. Open final, and today. This was her 14th victory in 16 meetings against the player given the best chance of challenging her in the near future.

Pam Shriver and Zina Garrison were like giddy schoolchildren Friday after outlasting Helena Sukova and Jana Novotna of Czechoslovakia, 4-6, 6-2, 10-8, to win the gold medal in doubles.

And although he was a bit disappointed, Tim Mayotte appeared pleased when he received the silver medal in the men's singles competition, losing to Miloslav Mecir of Czechoslovakia, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.

"We really didn't know each other too well before the Olympics," Shriver said of her budding friendship with Garrison. "Now, Zina is someone I'm rooming with, practicing with, someone who beat the stuffing out of me in singles, and a friend."

Shriver and Garrison hugged following the match, an emotional moment, heightened by the fact they wasted five match points before finally winning. Garrison, who also won a bronze medal in singles, called it a special moment in her life. "I'm going to hang the medals above my fireplace," she said.

Shriver said: "It's been five or six years since I've gotten a kick out of a match like I did this one. If I do nothing else in tennis, this will be the highlight of my career."

Graf, as was the case in the U.S. Open final, accepted her victory in a calm fashion, smiling and waving to her family as she walked to the net to congratulate her opponent. She then walked to the guest seats, where her father and her coach, Pavel Slovil, were sitting, and embraced them.

The match was a bit closer than the scores indicated, with Sabatini holding three break points in the first game. Graf saved them all, but Sabatini had the first break, going ahead, 3-2, when she kept Graf on the defensive with her own deep groundstrokes.

Graf broke back, however, and that apeared to demoralize Sabatini. Graf broke her again in the eighth game, forcing two backhand errors, then closed out the set in the ninth, hitting her first ace.

Sabatini rallied in the second set, regaining her composure, staying even with Graf through four games. Then, Graf broke her in the fifth, ripping a forehand winner on Sabatini's second serve.

Graf wavered a bit in the next game, facing two break points. But she saved them with a drop-shot winner and a forehand pass down the line. Graf used the drop shot effectively today, catching Sabatini well behind the baseline. It accounted for three clear winners and kept Sabatini guessing.

Sabatini fired two aces to hold her serve in the seventh game, then made her last stand, holding two break points against Graf in the eighth. A forehand winner and a service-winner enabled Graf to get even, and she eventually held service.

She closed out the match in the next game, her forehand just too much for Sabatini to counter Saturday. She appeared less inhibited than in the Open final, hitting with more assurance.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

"Yippee-ki-yay, motherf#cker." -- John McClane, Die Hard, 1988

If Alexander III of Macedon wept for whatever reason, Graf the Great just wants to go home and sleep in her own bed.

Her trance-like states and distant stares that "look right through" people are well-documented, even when extreme exhaustion/stress didn't seem to be the case. (And probably had a lot to do with why some people found her really, really, really off-putting and/or intimidating.) While she certainly is "gone" in this instance, I think sometimes that You-are-nothing-I-am-nothing look was just a look, and people misinterpreted it.

To the best of my knowledge, Steffi and Gaby did not play the exhibitions mentioned below.

Exhausted at the Goal of an Unbelievable Run
Steffi Graf wins gold and wishes for only one more thing: Quiet at last
Süddeutsche Zeitung
October 3, 1988
By Ludger Schulze

Steffi Graf was asked what she would perhaps want if she had one free wish in her eventfully boring life now that even the very last athletic dream of the young tennis player is fulfilled. "I would wish to already be at home. So I'm counting the days, I'm counting the hours until I can leave here," said the Olympic champion very softly, but yet loud enough to allow the scream of a tormented soul to be audible. And that it was, not some mere set phrase.

This requires no psychology to establish. Steffi Graf is finished, inwardly empty, almost dead looking. After her 6-3, 6-3 victory in the final against the Argentine Gabriela Sabatini she presented a sad, almost pitiful look. That certainly isn't one's idea of a delightedly beaming winner, quite the contrary. At the obligatory press conference, she was nervous, concentrated with difficulty, constantly ran her hands through her hair, fidgeted at her face with her fingers. "I came here very, very tired, quite definitely not in the best shape," she said. And when she arrived at the Seoul airport, she got caught in a tumultuous swirl of journalists, Steffi here, Steffi there, Steffi, Steffi, Steffi.

She can't take a step anymore without being watched, everyone wants something from her. The blonde superstar gave away control and self-determination over her life, she is - through all the success - under the rule of other people. She looks right through her interviewers, as though her eyes were fixed on some alluring point far in the distance. Steffi Graf is barely aware anymore. But rather, though filtered through a wall of bodyguards, who protect her from annoyances of every kind, the existence of Steffi Graf takes place under a microscope. Even her sex life (whether existing or not) is put out on the public market. And even if she could withdraw to the isolation of the Galapagos Islands, presumably the birds would want to have autographs.

The inhuman pressure, which weighs heavily on her, leads her to react like a string puppet, almost like in a trance. Presumably, there is only one place in the world at the moment where she is wide-awake, full of imagination and zest for life: the tennis court. Sabatini, her opponent, the only one who already defeated Steffi Graf this year (and that just twice), didn't have the hint of a chance. Just in the first three or four games, the 19-year-old from Brühl rushed the Argentine from corner to corner, up to the net and back to the baseline. "She was dead in the first 20 minutes," said Ion Tiriac, the manager of Boris Becker, afterwards, "but that was already five minutes longer than I expected!" Only, he could not understand that the dark-haired South American with the mighty shoulders had learned nothing from the previous 13 losses (in 15 encounters). But that is so easily said, against this forehand, this mobility, there seems to be no answer. Steffi Graf is a perfect athlete.

In the estimation of the German national coach Klaus Hofsäss, Sabatini played her best game in this eternal duel, "but after 35 minutes, she was out of gas." From time to time, she shook her head in despair, the sympathies of the spectators belonged to the loser. "But I certainly can't suffer with her," said Steffi Graf, who immediately succeeded Helen Wills (USA). That woman was the last gold medal winner in tennis in 1924.

At 5-3 in the second set, she was quite sure, said Graf, of almost reaching the goal of an unbelievable long distance race: After winning the Australian, French, English, and United States championships, she now pulled off the Super Grand Slam, so to say, at Seoul. "Not very many after me will succeed in doing that," she commented. Despite all her emotional exhaustion, the young lady from Brühl could still yet feel joy about this great achievement. She had "goose-flesh" down her back during the national anthem - presumably just like all the others who are permitted to stand at the highest step on the pedestal.

Undoubtedly, the Olympic experience was not the biggest thing for Steffi Graf, "that was Wimbledon, I also played my best tennis there." Apart from maybe the semifinals in Seoul against Zina Garrison (USA), who had to put up with athletic humiliation for 45 minutes before the 2-6, 0-6 match was finally settled. "Now I have achieved everything," groaned Steffi Graf, and it certainly didn't sound as though she was happy about it. What still remains? "I still want to improve my game," she set as a goal.

It would be nice to wish that the friendly, kind Steffi Graf gets her life back in her own hands again. Other superstars like Michael Jackson or Madonna know how difficult that is, probably even impossible. Possibly, it will already help the young girl to also play a little less tennis, to have more quiet. However, on the 4th and 6th of October, she competes again already in two so-called exhibitions against Sabatini. "It's all the same to me whether I get money or not. To an athlete, the victory is much more important." In every respect, the two exhibitions against her Olympic final opponent are highly lucrative, highly superfluous. And dangerous. Because there is an IOC rule which states that all commercial contracts in the timespan of one week before to one week after the Games have to cease. Of course, in these days, an Olympic competitor is also not allowed to play in a professional event. In the opposite case, disqualification is threatened. And Steffi Graf really will not have taken everything upon herself.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

A repost, but while I'm at it...

SPORTS OF THE TIMES; Make Steffi Play Lefty
October 2, 1988
New York Times

The most awesome thing about this Miss Steffi Graf is not that she is 19 years old and has already won the Grand Slam Plus One. That's history. Oh, no. The real scary thing about this Miss Graf is that she roared through the final match of the Summer Games, not just a kid having a fine time at the Olympics but also a superb technician adding a level to her game.

For her Golden Grand Slam, she added a drop shot to her repertory, feathering shots over the net the way Junior McEnroe used to do.

Graf's development of a change of pace was one of the last impressions to sink in at these Games. Among others were:

* The realization that the drug crisis is really not about steroids but rather about masking agents. Your pharmacist is better than my pharmacist.

* South Korea is a complex, modern and quite gracious nation; able to plan and run a Summer Games. The more one thinks about it, the brief brawl by officials in the boxing ring a week ago was an isolated lapse by sports yahoos; hardly a national scandal.

* For many Korean men and women, there was the perhaps unforgettable jolt of seeing western women in positions of authority.

To say nothing of authority on the tennis court. With those occasional beanbag shots, Graf ran her doubles partner, the clueless Gabriela Sabatini, around and then off the court by a 6-3, 6-3 count here Saturday. If anything, Graf was more controlled and conscious than she had been in winning the U.S. Open, Sept. 10. Coming after her romp through the four Grand Slam events this season, Graf had understandably been sounding weary earlier in the week, making the Summer Games sound like just one more stop on the tour - the Emphysema Slims Greater Seoul Junior Chamber of Commerce Classic.

But just as Pam Shriver and Zina Garrison and Miloslav Mecir saw the uniqueness of winning the first tennis gold medals in 64 years, so Graf came to appreciate what she was up to.

''I'm very excited to achieve this,'' she said after the match. ''Not many people in the future will achieve this, winning the Grand Slam and the gold medal. That's amazing.

''I came here really tired and not expecting too much. When I was playing, I was down, just down.''

Graf gets a tepid press most of the time because she is so phlegmatic; much in the way Ivan Lendl is belittled because he doesn't get up there and perform the old buck-and-wing for us.

But Graf is still only 19, a young woman who seems to be listening and watching more than she is talking. Her father is sometimes accused of controlling her too much. He should try bottling his formula for raising a stable and successful child.

She's just getting interesting, this Miss Graf. For her fifth lap of the Golden Grand Slam, she came out with a drop shot never before seen in such abundance. Sabatini is known to play well for a while and then tire.

''After the first couple of games, I could see she couldn't keep it up,'' Graf said later.

Seeing Graf plunk the ball over the net on occasion, one could not help wonder if she were doing it for amusement, the way McEnroe used to invent shots, the way Larry Bird will force himself into some preposterous off-the-ear, falling-out-of-bounds heave from 35 feet, just to keep from getting bored.

Graf doesn't seem the type to play mind games with herself, but one could not resist asking the question: What next?

''Today it was my plan to make her run,'' Graf said. ''I was just sticking to what I was doing. Maybe in the future, I will come to the net more.''

There is plenty of future because there does not seem to be anybody in women's tennis who can chase down that superb forehand.

We may have to wait a generation for the maturation of some of those charming but squawking babies that were brought into the tennis stadium by their mothers yesterday. (What would McEnroe have made of a stadium full of googling one-year-olds?) Motherhood has not been the only option for women in contemporary Korea. In addition to the fabled fisherwomen of the southwest coast, many women work in offices in modern Seoul.

In fact, one of the electronic gadgets in the appliance stores is a rice warmer that keeps a Korean-style snack warm for when the children come home from school and mother is still at work. Most people work five full days and a half Saturday in this boom country.

Advancing to management jobs is not so easy, however. Many Korean men had trouble dealing with - or even looking in the eye - western publicists, western technicians and even western executives of the female persuasion.

One male journalist found great delight in referring all visitors to his bureau chief. ''She boss?'' they would say. Korean women seemed to enjoy the presence of western visitors in offices, streets and subways. Some even started up innocent conversations, just to test their English - or maybe their nerve.

They also couldn't miss the gallant performances of the South Korean female medalists in team handball, field hockey, archery and table tennis. Things may not be the same after these Games. Women may soon be asking for raises and advancement.

But back to Steffi Graf. What can she do for an encore? In what might have been a message to her father, she said she was going to take a rest and then perform in some minor tournaments - ''It depends on how I feel.''

When she goes after a second Grand Slam next year, she needs a challenge. She ought to announce to the world that she is becoming a serve-and-volley player, rush the net whenever possible - as somebody else said about Mount Everest, because it is there.

If that works out, she might want to think about an ambidextrous Grand Slam. This Steffi Graf has plenty of time for improvisation.
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

I wonder if they think the tennis pros have household staff to do the laundry or the grocery shopping when they're at home.

Sunday, October 2, 1988

SEOUL - Forsaking luxury hotels and room service, the wealthy stars of tennis seem to enjoy being treated like ordinary people at the Seoul Olympics.

The Games have led to the unlikely sight of Chris Evert lining up in the athletes' cafeteria, Stefan Edberg sharing a room and Steffi Graf doing her laundry with the rest of the West German team.

"It is a real learning experience for me,'' said Evert, who for nearly 16 years has been used to the wealthy life at the top end of the professional tennis circuit.

"It is great. Everyone is equal here - no one is on a pedestal.''

Edberg, the top seed in the men's tournament, is sharing living quarters in the athletes' village with fellow Swedish players Anders Jarryd and Caterina Lindqvist and the team coaches.

"I can't expect to have room service here but the apartments are quite nice actually,'' said the world's third-best player. "It is very different to what we are used to.''

Graf, fresh from the U.S. Open victory which gave her the Grand Slam - and a check for $275,000 - likes the cluster of high-rise apartments in the village for a different reason. It offers her sanctuary from the journalists, photographers and fans who pursue her every time she sets foot outside the wire fences.

"I haven't really seen anything of the city,'' the 19-year-old world number one said. "But I am happy with that because I just want a quiet time.''

Tennis players - professional or amateur - have not been part of the Olympic family since 1924. Professional players, among the richest people in sport, were admitted here after much discussion in the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

India's Vijay Amritraj, a familiar, smiling face on the professional circuit for 15 years and joint director of a successful film company, feels the experience has moved even the most hardened of players who came to Seoul.

"It's overwhelming if you're 18, it's overwhelming if you're 34,'' said Amritraj, who is approaching his 35th birthday. "It's a unique event for everybody.''

Tim Mayotte, the men's second seed, has enjoyed the chance to watch the other sports.

"To me the most exciting thing is trying to sneak into all the events,'' said the American who has been cheering on his team-mates in the gymnastics and basketball.

Fellow-American Pam Shriver, seeded fourth in the women's singles, said the village showed her what she had missed by not going to college.

"A lot of it is, I would imagine, like going to college --doing the laundry all together and going to dinner, and they have lounges in each building.

"Even if the food is not eight-star it is pretty good and they have a lot of ice cream,'' Shriver added.

Her only complaints were of security checks and over-enthusiastic South Korean autograph hunters.

"There are certain things that because of the security are made very awkward but everyone has to go through them and after day six you don't give it a thought,'' she said.

Shriver, who at six feet towers over many of the local fans, added: "The Koreans, the ones who want your autograph --they let you know. They're pretty aggressive.''

New Zealand's Kelly Evernden confessed he had been surprised that athletes were required to stand in the sun for two and a half hours at the opening ceremony.

"You wouldn't catch us doing that at Wimbledon,'' he said with a laugh. "Don't get me wrong - I'm honored to be here but I'm in a state of culture shock. But this is the Olympics so you're happy to get in and do it.''

Russian teenager Natalia Zvereva admitted she was itching to follow coach Olga Morozova's example and get down to Seoul's bargain shopping district, Itaewon.

"Olga said there were nice leather clothes,'' Zvereva said.

But the fun of the Olympic Games has not spilled over to the tennis courts, said France's Henri Leconte, beaten in the second round by local player Kim Bong-soo.

"The feeling here is not really like an Olympic feeling,'' Leconte said. "It is almost like a regular tournament.''

Mayotte suggested that a change in format, from an individual tournament to a team event along the lines of the Davis Cup, would stimulate interest in Olympic tennis, which has been poorly attended so far.

"The concept of the team medal is more appealing than the individual medal,'' Mayotte said. "It would be more exciting."
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

For the record, when they told Serena about this, she was like, "Steffi made a comment?! And it was about me?! That's incredible!!"

The keepers of women's tennis don't seem to understand the danger the pro game in. They continue trying to keep interest going with GOAT arguments and soft-core T&A shows, neither of which can compensate for the lack of on-court entertainment product. I realize "player development" might be beyond the scope of the WTA's charter, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Serena is the only one right now who knows how to compete -- not just grunt loud and scream "COME ON!!", but when under pressure, know what shot must be made and then make the shot. Errors at critical moments or expecting/waiting for the opponent's errors at critical moments is not going to maintain the fan base. Serena can't work alone.

Steffi Graf says Serena Williams can set career major title record
Monday, September 30, 2013
2:12 PM EST

NEW YORK (AP) — Steffi Graf's career ended with 22 Grand Slam singles titles at age 30 because of injuries. The tennis great doesn't see anyone stopping Serena Williams from becoming the career leader in major titles, if she stays healthy.

Williams earned her 17th major title at the U.S. Open this month, and Graf believes Williams will surpass career leader Margaret Court (24).

"She's got a lot of tennis left in her," Graf said Friday in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "I can easily see her pass all of our records. I don't see the competition catching up to her at all."

Williams, who turned 32 on Thursday, is one major championship away from matching the 18 titles held by Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

"Her body has been holding up really well," said Graf, who was hindered by knee injuries. "She's so strong and has such a powerful game. She has a chance to overpower her opponents, and she's shown that over and over."

The versatile Graf used her powerful forehand and exceptional footwork to win seven Wimbledon titles, six French Opens, five U.S. Opens, and four Australian titles.

She's the only singles player — male or female — to win the calendar year Golden Grand Slam. This year marks the 25th anniversary of her winning all four Grand Slam titles and the gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

In her final season in 1999, Graf beat a 17-year-old Williams in Sydney and lost to her at Indian Wells. Those meetings were memorable.

"You can feel a strong energy and determination," Graf said. "That can be definitely intimidating playing against her. You know there's a force on the court. Obviously, she tries to take points over, then you feel pressure to be aggressive.

"Even in her young age, she and her sister (Venus), they just had a really strong presence on the court."

On Friday, Williams was guaranteed to finish the year with the No. 1 ranking for the third time in her career. Graf achieved that feat a record eight times.

She won 107 singles titles, finishing third on the WTA list after Navratilova (167) and Evert (154).

Graf captured an astounding seven of eight majors from 1988-89 in her prime. If Serena wins two majors each in the next three years, she would pass Graf by the end of the 2016 season.

"We'll see how mentally and physically she's able to preserve herself over the next few years," Graf said. "I don't think anybody's ever played that far, that kind of tennis, at her age. I'll be curious to follow her."

Graf noticed the improved play of Williams this season.

"I thought she really put it together well in her matches this year — determined, focused," Graf said. "She's seemed to have found an inner calm on the court."

These days, the 44-year-old Graf and husband Andre Agassi are busy raising 11-year-old Jaden and 9-year old Jaz, who enjoy baseball and dance.

"They're really active, I guess they've caught that from their parents," she said, laughing. "Jaden has been playing baseball for about five years, he plays club ball, loves it. He's got a really intense schedule. When I look back at my tournaments at that age, he surpasses that easily.

"Jaz, the last three years, she's really loving dance, hip-hop. It's been fun seeing her branch out into something that might not be as natural for her. But she's coming out of her shell and really enjoying it."

Instead of tennis, Graf now relishes lower-impact biking, Pilates and yoga.

"For me, working out is essential," she said. "It's something not only physically I need — I need it for my state of mind. It helps me to take some time for myself and organize my thoughts, and it gives me energy again."

Graf attended a Longines "Women Who Make A Difference" event in New York on Thursday night and promoted her foundation "Children for Tomorrow," which works with youth traumatized by war.

Agassi's College Preparatory Academy, which began in Las Vegas, has expanded to 25 charter schools nationwide, including another school in Detroit and two schools opening in Florida, she said.

"It's really personal and really important to us, and we share that intimately," Graf said before flying back to their home in Nevada. "It's the future of the country. It's giving kids a chance, with education, to make their own choices later in life.

"It's pretty moving when you see some of the responses of the parents."
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post #2969 of 6247 (permalink) Old Oct 6th, 2013, 09:54 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Just thought I'd say if anyone checks out Rennae Stubbs' Instagram account they'd see 1 or 2 pics with Steffi, as Rennae was in Vegas for Billie Jean King's birthday & hung out with Steffi at least for some part of it.

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post #2970 of 6247 (permalink) Old Oct 11th, 2013, 08:03 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Originally Posted by fnuf7 View Post
Just thought I'd say if anyone checks out Rennae Stubbs' Instagram account they'd see 1 or 2 pics with Steffi, as Rennae was in Vegas for Billie Jean King's birthday & hung out with Steffi at least for some part of it.
Lovely pics!

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