Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2 - Page 203 -
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post #3031 of 5950 (permalink) Old Nov 21st, 2013, 01:27 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

And for the second year in a row, Steffi is ineligible for the WTA's bonus pool. I'm sure it added to the friction behind the scenes. The WTA/Virginia Slims people were no doubt confused, frustrated, and/or insulted that there was no amount of money they could dangle in front of Steffi to get her to jump through their hoops.

Sabatini halts rise of Shriver
Houston Chronicle
Monday, NOVEMBER 21, 1988

NEW YORK - Gabriela Sabatini, who has lived in the shadow of her doubles partner and two veterans of women's tennis, is secure in a spot of her own today after defeating Pam Shriver 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in the final of the Virginia Slims Championship at Madison Square Garden.

Sabatini, the 18-year-old from Argentina, was the master of the court before 16,711 fans on Sunday as she destroyed the fairyland jump to the spotlight by Shriver of Lutherville, Md.

The victory was worth $125,000 to Sabatini, and Shriver picked up a check for $60,000 from the $1 million purse of this season-ending event.

But more important for both of the contestants, it was their ticket out of the shadows. Sabatini gained some measure of fame by defeating Steffi Graf, her doubles partner, twice during the year. However, she was more often the bridesmaid when it came to championships, losing to Graf in the U.S. Open and to Martina Navratilova in one of the tournaments in which she defeated Graf.

Shriver is best known as Navratilova's doubles partner and the U.S. Open finalist in 1978. She has won a scattering of singles tournaments over the years but mostly her fame has come through her play in doubles.

And Shriver had the most difficult time in reaching the final of the sixth annual Virginia Slims Championship. She upset No. 3-seeded Chris Evert and No. 1-seeded Graf, in addition to winning the doubles with Navratilova on Saturday. Sabatini had an easier path to the final, winning over Katerina Maleeva, Natalia Zvereva and Helena Sukova with the loss of only 11 games.

Sabatini has been subject to physical-condition questions since she appeared to tire in a couple of tournaments last summer, but she was certainly fit for the contest Sunday.

"Before the match I said I was going to try to win in three sets, because it would be easier," Sabatini said. "But physically I was ready to play five sets.

"I have to say this is my best tournament because mentally I played very strong. I had a feeling I was going to win because of my confidence and I would have played Graf with the same confidence.

"Next year I can be better. I have a few months to practice well and my goal is to be No. 2. My tennis is improving more and more because I am working very hard. My eventual goal is to be No. 1, but I am not in any hurry."

She obviously is stronger, and Shriver noted that "every time I see her I think her shoulders have grown 3 inches."

But it was the powerful forehand cross-court shot that she used to baffle Shriver and her unusual amount of serve-and-volley tennis that was a force in the win.

"At match point I was determined I was going to get to that cross-court," Shriver said. "I started running the minute she hit it, but I guess I just didn't run very hard. It is such an early shot and she holds in on her racket so long. And I've got to learn to handle the spin volley because she is going to be around for a while."

The two-hour and 20-minute match did not have the thrilling moments of the Shriver wins over Evert and Graf or the victory by Sukova over Navratilova. Shriver thought she might have been a little "subdued" during the match.

"I've got to be encouraged about the tournament and about the end of the year," Shriver said. "I hadn't beaten the No. 1 player in the world since the 1982 Open when I beat Martina. But it is no free road. It gives me the incentive to work during the off-season."

Having spent her career chasing Navratilova and Evert and recent years following Graf, Shriver admitted that she was ready to chase Sabatini.

"Hey, I'll chase whoever is in front of me," she said.

"I played OK but my serve was not as effective as it had been earlier in the week and I didn't have the same control that I had on Saturday (against Graf). I didn't expect to wear her down. People don't wear down against me because my points are so quick.

"The biggest game was when I broke her for 5-5 in the first set. But then she broke back and held serve to close out the set."

They had twice exchanged service breaks prior to the decisive break in the 11th game of the first set. In the second set, after an early exchange, Shriver was broken in the fifth and seventh games.

Shriver lost her serve in the third and seventh games of the third set.

The result might have been quicker had Sabatini been able to control her serve in the first set. While Shriver was hitting on 71 percent of her first serves, Sabatini connected on only 39 percent.

Shriver won 35 points on her first serve, Sabatini only 11. Had it not been for her 32-15 advantage in placements, Shriver would have blown her out in that first set.

Once Sabatini began serving better in the second set it was only a matter of time before she tucked away her first major tennis win.

NOTES - When you make more than $1 million a year, you apparently can afford to pass up a "mere" $400,000. That's what it cost Steffi Graf to limit her playing schedule during the 1988 women's tennis season. Graf did not play the required 11 tournaments, exclusive of Grand Slams. Therefore, her part of the bonus pool was divided between other players, with Martina Navratilova receiving $100,000 ... Navratilova received a total of $450,000 from the bonus pools, it was announced Sunday by the Women's International Tennis Association ... Gabriela Sabatini finished second with $265,000 and Chris Evert was third with $140,000. Pam Shriver finished fourth at $85,000 and Houstonian Lori McNeil was fifth at $70,000. Manuela Maleeva and Helena Sukova tied for sixth and received $45,000 each, and Zina Garrison was eighth, worth $40,000 ... There were eight divisions of the bonus pool and McNeil received $50,000 for playing in the division known as the exempt players pool. This is the pool that encourages players to compete in the smaller tournaments among the 61 events that make up the Virginia Slims World Series.
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post #3032 of 5950 (permalink) Old Nov 25th, 2013, 12:47 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

From the depths of time. Although I am not sure how you beat the top two seeds before the final.

Steffi Graf reached the final
Hamburger Abendblatt
November 25, 1982
No. 274, Page 25

Mannheim native Steffi Graf (13), world champion in her age division, reached the final at an international-level tennis tournament in Oslo. In the semifinal, she won through against Lea Pichova (Czechoslovakia) 6-3, 6-1 in only 47 minutes. The Czechoslovakian was seeded second. In the first round, Steffi Graf had already defeated the tournament favorite Marcella Skuherska (Czechoslovakia). In the final, the Mannheim native meets 24-year-old Elisabeth Ekblom of Sweden.

Like Steffi Graf, the top German players Claudia Kohde (Saarbrücken) and Eva Pfaff (Frankfurt) also attracted attention abroad with good performances. At the international championships of New South Wales ($125,000 prize money), they both reached the third round. While Claudia Kohde won against Yugoslavian Mima Jausovec 6-2, 6-4, Eva Pfaff defeated American Barbara Hallquist 6-2, 6-1.

In contrast, American Pam Shriver, ranked sixth in the world, foundered 4-6, 2-6 against the former doubles world champion Ann Kiyomura. The top-seeded Martina Navratilova (USA) defeated Australian Susan Leo, 6-4, 6-0.

Nationally-ranked No. 4 Andreas Maurer (Neuss) foundered in the first round against Chilean Hans Gildemeister 6-2, 3-6, 3-6 in Johannesburg ($300,000). American Brian Gottfried had considerable difficulty before he had won against Eddie Edwards (South Africa) 5-7, 6-3, 15-13, after three hours.

Steffi Graf erreichte das Endspiel
Hamburger Abendblatt · Nr. 274 vom 25.11.1982 · Seite 25

sid Hamburg, 25. November - Die Mannheimerin Steffi Graf (13), Weltmeisterin in ihrer Jahrgangsklasse, erreichte bei einem internationalen Tennis-Turnier in Oslo das Finale. Im Halbfinale setzte sie sich gegen Lea Pichova (CSSR) in nur 47 Minuten mit 6:3, 6:1 durch. Die Tschechoslowakin war an zwei gesetzt. Steffi Graf hatte schon in der ersten Runde die Turnierfavoritin Marcella Skuherska (CSSR) besiegt. Im Finale trifft die Mannheimerin auf die elf Jahre ältere Schwedin Elisabeth Ekblom.

Wie Steffi Graf fielen auch die deutschen Spitzenspielerinnen Claudia Kohde (Saarbrücken) und Eva Pfaff (Frankfurt) im Ausland durch gute Leistungen auf. Bei den Internationalen Meisterschaften von Neu Südwales (125 000 Dollar Preisgeld) kamen beide in die dritte Runde. Während sich Claudia Kohde mit 6:2, 6:4 über die Jugoslawin Mima Jausovec durchsetzte, besiegte Eva Pfaff die Amerikanerin Barbara Hallquist mit 6:2, 6:1.

Dagegen scheiterte die amerikanische Weltranglisten-Sechste Pam Shriver an der ehemaligen Doppel-Weltmeisterin Ann Kiyomura mit 4:6, 2:6. Die an eins gesetzte Martina Navratilova (USA) besiegte mit 6:4, 6:0 die Australierin Susan Leo.

- Der deutsche Ranglistenvierte Andreas Maurer (Neuss) scheiterte in Johannesburg (300 000 Dollar) in der ersten Runde gegen den Chilenen Hans Gildemeister 6:2, 3:6, 3:6. Erhebliche Mühe hatte der Amerikaner Brian Gottfried, ehe er nach drei Stunden gegen Eddie Edwards (Südafrika) mit 5:7, 6:3, 15:13 gewonnen hatte.
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post #3033 of 5950 (permalink) Old Nov 26th, 2013, 08:43 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

"I cannot remember my first tournament victory. I know only that it snowed outside and that my mother played with me to warm up for the final."

Probably Steffi and Elisabeth were both thinking: "You again?"

$1200 for Steffi's tournament victory in Oslo
Hamburger Abendblatt
November 26, 1982
No. 275, Page 21

Steffi Graf, the 13-year-old daughter of a Mannheim tennis instructor, won a $20,000 international-level tennis tournament in Oslo. After she had already eliminated the first and second seeded Czechoslovakians Marcela Skuherska and Lea Pichova, she also won through in the final 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 against the eleven years older Elisabeth Ekblom of Sweden. The organizers handed over $1200 to the 13-year-old as a prize.

The German champion Claudia Kohde (Saarbrücken) and Frankfurt's Eva Pfaff foundered against it in the round of 16 in a Grand-Prix tournament in Sydney. Claudia Kohde lost 3-6, 2-6 against the former Wimbledon champion Evonne Cawley (Australia), while Eva Pfaff was defeated by American Anne Kiyomura 6-7, 6-4, 4-6.

- In Johannesburg, Andreas Maurer (Neuss) dropped out in the first round against Hans Gildemeister 6-2, 3-6, 3-6.

- The seniors' Europa Cup takes place next July 7-10 at the Hamburg Klipper park.

1200 Dollar für Steffis Turniersieg in Oslo
Hamburger Abendblatt · Nr. 275 vom 26.11.1982 · Seite 21

ra Hamburg, 26. November Steffi Graf, die 13 Jahre alte Tochter eines Mannheimer Tennislehrers, gewann in Oslo das mit 20 000 Dollar dotierte internationale Tennis-Turnier. Nachdem sie schon vorher die an eins und zwei gesetzten Tschechoslowakinnen Marcela Skuherska und Lea Pichova ausgeschaltet hatte, setzte sie sich im Finale auch gegen die elf Jahre ältere Schwedin Elisabeth Ekblom mit 6:4, 1:6, 6:3 durch. Als Siegprämie überreichten die Veranstalter der 13jährigen 1200 Dollar.

Die Deutsche Meisterin Claudia Kohde (Saarbrücken) und die Frankfurterin Eva Pfaff scheiterten dagegen im Achtelfinale des Grand-Prix-Turniers in Sydney. Claudia Kohde verlor gegen die ehemalige Wimbledonsiegerin Evonne Cawley (Australlen) mit 3:6, 2:6, während Eva Pfaff nach drei Sätzen mit 6:7, 6:4, 4:6 der Amerikanerin Anne Kiyomura unterlag.

- In Johannesburg schied Andreas Maurer (Neuss) in der ersten Runde gegen den Chilenen Hans Gildemeister mit 6:2, 3:6, 3:6 aus.

- Der Europa-Cup der Senioren findet im nächsten vom 7.-10. Juli auf der Hamburger Klipper-Anlage statt.
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post #3034 of 5950 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2013, 08:35 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

R.I.P. Peter Graf.
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post #3035 of 5950 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2013, 11:44 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Just saw it on Facebook, prayers for her family.

Whitney Houston and her receipts:
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post #3036 of 5950 (permalink) Old Dec 2nd, 2013, 12:02 AM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Saw it on twitter.
Feeling sad for her.
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post #3037 of 5950 (permalink) Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 01:11 AM
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Sad to hear. But at least he went peacefully and at home.
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post #3038 of 5950 (permalink) Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 06:40 AM
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Condolences to Stefanie and her family.

Barthel Martic Muguruza Garcia Kvitova Sevastova Hampton Konjuh Lottner Bencic Halep Gavrilova Mladenovic
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post #3039 of 5950 (permalink) Old Dec 6th, 2013, 06:50 PM
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Once again, a look behind the scenes at the WTA reveals a lot of thick-headedness, short-sightedness and/or petty passive-aggressive vendettas.

1. That schedule is atrocious. If you want your top/marquee players to play your top tournaments, you might not want the tournaments to run back-to-back-to-back-to-back, with a surface switch. The Lipton followed immediately by the Family Circle Cup is such a bad decision for so many parties, that I can't imagine there was no other way.

2. If a tournament is offering $750,000 in prize money, you might want to guarantee the participation of the top players just as a token of good will.

3. The WTA seemed to be stuck on the thought that only two players could ever be top drawing cards. Evert did not cease to be a player who could put people in the seats and make TVs tune in just because she was ranked outside the top 2. Likewise with Sabatini. The WTA actually had four players who could "sell" a tournament on their own. It could even be argued that within the confines of the 1989 VS of FL to Amelia Island stretch, Evert and Sabatini would be even bigger drawing cards than Graf and Navratilova.

4. I know the change happened somewhere along the line, but the field commitments to the top tier tournaments used to be satisfied by "One from the AAA list or two from the AA list." (See Amelia Island in the "1986" thread.) If you're going to stick to an artificial limit of only two players for the AAA/gold list, why abandon the two from the AA list option? Especially when the AA list contains players like Evert and Sabatini?

5. If you have the power to make a player to enter a tournament, and you have a stretch of tournaments that require you to produce at least one of only two specific players, and one of those two players doesn't want to enter any of them, that's where you whip out your "hard assign card."

Navratilova would eventually enter 1989 Hilton Head and Amelia Island, but only after Steffi had already made her schedule.

Tuesday, December 6, 1988
By JIM SARNI, Staff Writer

The Lipton International Players Championships could be missing the top two women players.

Neither two-time defending champion Steffi Graf nor Martina Navratilova, the 1986 champion, has entered the March 20-April 2 tournament.

Navratilova is declining to play the hardcourt tournament for the second year in a row because of her ailing knees, but Graf is being forced out because of commitments to the women's tour during a hectic part of the season.

Graf is committed to play the Virginia Slims of Florida at The Polo Club (March 13-20), Hilton Head (April 3-9) and Amelia Island (April 10-16).

Those three are top-class, $300,000-prize tournaments that, under the provisions of the Virginia Slims circuit, require a Women's International Tennis Association commitment of the No. 1 or No. 2 player.

Since Navratilova elected not to play any of the three, Graf must, or the WITA has to pay an unrepresented tournament a fine.

The LIPC, despite $750,000 in prize money to the women, has no WITA player commitments.

"Steffi would like to play Lipton, but because of the totality of the circumstances, she can't," said Phil de Picciotto, Graf's agent.

"She can't play five weeks in a row. To play Boca, Lipton, Hilton Head and Amelia Island, she would have to play five weeks. Things could change, but the odds are against it."

"I would be stunned if Steffi didn't play," said LIPC tournament chairman Butch Buchholz.

"We have a tradition that our defending champion comes back. I didn't expect Martina to play, but it would be really disappointing if Steffi didn't play either. But it's still early. Tennis players change their minds like they change their underwear. You hear rumors, and then what happens is usually totally different."

In the absence of Graf and Navratilova, Chris Evert or Gabriela Sabatini -- depending on the rankings at the time -- would be the No. 1 seed.

The WITA helped create the problem by jamming four major events into five weeks next spring. This year, the $200,000 Eckerd Open in Tampa (one of the top four must play) followed Lipton on the calendar. The Eckerd Open follows Hilton Head and Amelia Island on next year's schedule.

Lipton was also moved back a week on the calendar.

"Steffi has bent over backward to help the WITA meet its commitments," de Picciotto said. "She's playing the tournaments where she is needed."

Graf was designated to play the Virginia Slims of Washington, Feb. 13-19, the first $300,000 tournament of the year.

Navratilova's limited schedule has put a burden on Graf. Chris Evert is a major drawing card but, ranked No. 3, she does not fulfill WITA commitments criteria.
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post #3040 of 5950 (permalink) Old Dec 28th, 2013, 05:50 PM
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Finishing up Steffi's 1988 a little early. She was en route to Australia for the inaugural Hopman Cup. I hope you found our review a pleasant and instructive exercise. We now return to our regularly scheduled program.

December 29, 1988
Sydney Morning Herald

NEVER before have the Germans, a nation with no great tradition in tennis, known such success as in 1988. Apart from his Davis Cup heroics, Boris Becker was a worthy winner of the Masters, while on the women's front, Steffi Graf recorded only the third Grand Slam of all time - then burnished it with Olympic gold.

Since Becker's first Wimbledon triumph at 17, the number of players throughout West Germany is said to have doubled to over two million. Yet the feeling still persists that, although the personalities are projected, the game itself remains a lesser relation of soccer and even handball.

Many believe - and perhaps with good reason - that Becker and Graf will do even better next year.

West Germans, it seems, are still not convinced that Becker and Graf are the sort of catalyst Bjorn Borg was to a generation of Swedes. "In Sweden," they observe, "tennis is available for all. In Germany, people are still priced out."

They also say - and the evidence tends to support them - that even someone as talented as Carl-Uwe Steeb, who made Becker's Cup triumph possible by beating Mats Wilander, prefers the comfort of the Bundesliga (where sponsorship can bring lucrative rewards) to the competitive demands of the circuit.

League tennis, which extends the clay-court season, has been the bane of a succession of West German national coaches. A decade ago Rolf Gehring and Uli Pinner were among Europe's best, but they never sought to prove it on a worldwide stage.

In Becker and Graf, though, their nation has been blessed with two superstars possessing an insatiable appetite for success. And, at 21 and 19 respectively, they could dominate the world scene for years.

Becker says he is ready to lift his game to a new level. He admits that when he won Wimbledon it was largely because of his serve.

"Now I have a pretty good backhand and a better volley. But it's more that my approach has changed. I'm taking it more seriously than before," he said.

Since losing to Stefan Edberg in this year's Wimbledon final - his greatest disappointment in 1988 - Becker has been beaten only twice. From April to December Graf lost just once. "But we both like winning," he grins.

Although Becker made his mark first, it is Graf's influence which is perhaps more apparent. A recent survey showed that German girls are as eager to play like her as Americans are to follow Chris Evert's example.

As not one Evert clone has succeeded since Tracy Austin and Andrea Jaeger "retired hurt", this could mean that if Evert and Martina Navratilova decide to quit - which may well happen during the next two years - European domination of the women's game will be almost complete.

Graf, who hits her ground strokes with such ferocity, has little to fear from the game's base-liners, and has shown, increasingly, that the forecourt holds no terrors for her.

Becker, who raised some eyebrows in New York recently by declaring that clay was his favourite surface, has emerged as a genuine all-court competitor over the past 12 months - and seems more determined than ever to match Gottfried von Cramm, the only German ever to win the French title.

In his golden period, von Cramm won the French title twice, was runner-up three times at Wimbledon and once at Forest Hills, and was twice US doubles champion with Henner Henkel.

Few doubt Becker can improve on that. In Graf's case, a unique second successive Grand Slam in 1989 is the immediate goal. After that her only problem would be in finding fresh targets at which to aim.
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post #3041 of 5950 (permalink) Old Jan 1st, 2014, 06:24 PM
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A return to more-or-less random wanderings down Memory Lane. I've looked for a video of this interview, but no luck, which is a shame because I would love to hear how she said "Do you have anything to do with football?" Did she stumble into a good rejoinder by sheer accident or did she know it was going to deflate his bubble a little bit? Steffi and Ted were chums henceforth.

Mr Football serves it up to Steffi Graf
January 14, 1993
The Age

It takes a lot to rattle Steffi Graf.

For years she has dodged coins and other missiles hurled at her by frenzied Latin crowds. She has shut out Monica Seles' grunting on Wimbledon's centre court and has watched while grown men have slugged it out in a grandstand on her behalf.

But she had never shared a stage with Ted Whitten. Not until yesterday that is, when Bruhl's most famous citizen linked up with Braybrook's favorite son.

The occasion was Graf's pre-Australian Open news conference at the Port Melbourne apartment block she calls home in Melbourne. It also served as the launch for Adidas' latest range of tennis apparel. Graf is the brand's No.1 showpiece. And when not trading insults with Mal Brown and jousting with Ron Barassi, EJ is Adidas' No.1 spruiker.

Yesterday's was no ordinary news conference. Whitten used all the techniques he learned on 'World Championship Wrestling' and 13 years of hosting football broadcasts at first to confuse, and then amuse the world's second-best woman tennis player.

The tennis media were awaiting news of the ankle she hurt during last week's Hopman Cup. But Whitten took a different tack: Whitten: "You have Mother with you, and she's a fanatical shopper. Is that right?" Graf: "No." "You make it and she spends it. Is that right?" - "No, no, no ... but she loves Australia." Eventually, the discussion turned to tennis. Graf was asked whether Seles was still the player to beat. Yes, she replied, Seles had been No.1 in the world for a long time and would be hard to beat at Flinders Park.

Graf's form was also discussed. She said she had missed only two days of practice during the past month and that her game was coming together after a year interrupted by two bouts of illness and a bruised shoulder. She hoped to add variety to her game this year and to come to the net a little more often.

She was also relishing the chance for a solid workout on the Flinders Park centre court before the rest of the players arrived in town. She was quietly confident.

"What you're saying is that the media boys should get their money on now!" interrupted Whitten.

Graf gave him a look of bewilderment and giggled. She continued talking about the growing prestige of the Australian Open.

"It's getting more important to get away to a good start here. It (the tournament) has changed now. Everybody wants to come out here and that's the way it should be. I'll just take one match at a time ... but I want to do well this time." Whitten then told the gathering that if she won the tournament, she would use the proceeds to buy an AFL team. Fitzroy was mentioned a couple of times.

The football talk continued.

Graf: "I will just try to do my best, I mean that's all ..."

Whitten (interrupting): "That's right, Steffi, take it week by week. That's what we do in football!"

Graf (to Whitten): "Do you have anything to do with football?"

Naturally this brought the house down: Ted Whitten had finally been put in his place. But the man who spent years as a favored guest on 'World of Sport' can take it as well as he dishes it, and was not about to stop now. When Graf said she had not yet seen much of Melbourne's nightlife, Whitten offered to be her chaperone.

Whitten: "Wherever you go, I'll go too, sweetheart."

Graf: "Oh wow."

Game, set and match, Miss Graf.
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post #3042 of 5950 (permalink) Old Jan 2nd, 2014, 04:48 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Graf (to Whitten): "Do you have anything to do with football?"

Wondering if these photos are from the same event?
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post #3043 of 5950 (permalink) Old Jan 2nd, 2014, 06:32 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Originally Posted by Stef-fan View Post
Graf (to Whitten): "Do you have anything to do with football?"

Wondering if these photos are from the same event?
Those are from 1994. The pertinent article, with a zinger of a quote:

Closely guarding Steffi
January 15, 1994
The Age

Steffi Graf did finally emerge from behind that door at the Myer city store yesterday, but only when the security men were good and ready.

Since the horrific stabbing of the former world number one, Monica Seles, in Hamburg last April, security has become as much a part of tennis as serves, lobs and aces. And like tennis authorities the world over, Tennis Australia has beefed up its security requirements for the Australian Open, which starts at Flinders Park on Monday.

Graf, who was at Myer to release her new range of tennis gear, said she tried to ignore the uniformed presence around her. "It's not a concern. You can't keep worrying all your life about what can happen," she said.

Seles has been sidelined for nearly nine months and Graf, her foremost rival, admitted that the circuit was the poorer for her absence. But it did allow Graf to enjoy another solid year, and she goes into the Open as the unbackable favorite and - if the huge crowd that mobbed her at Myer is any indication - the number one drawcard.
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post #3044 of 5950 (permalink) Old Jan 3rd, 2014, 07:59 PM
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Oops, missed one from 1988!

January 5, 1988
Sydney Morning Herald

MELBOURNE: The first time she played in Australia she was barely ranked among the world's top 100 players and was assisted from a slippery Kooyong tennis court shedding tears of frustration and pain.

One year later she was seeded 16th in the Australian Open, and was beaten by Wendy Turnbull in the third round of the singles. She could not win one match in the doubles.

It has taken Steffi Graf a further three years to make her third trip to Australia. This time in the official jargon of the Women's International Tennis Association, she is here, as the "undisputed world champion of the 1987 Virginia Slims World Championship Series".

More to the point, the 18-year-old West German is the No 1 seed for the 1988 Ford Australian Open beginning next Monday.

After a week of practising in seclusion on the new Rebound Ace surface at the National Tennis Centre, Graf was ready to meet the media yesterday.

Sitting alongside her Czech coach, Pavel Slozil, she was relaxed and poised, experienced enough to apply the radio men's microphones to the front of her shirt like an old trooper. A large copper earring dangling from her left ear added a touch of chic.

Not even a barbed question about why she had wanted to practise in secrecy for a week ruffled her. It was the security people's idea, she said. "I didn't ask for it, but it was nice."

She was, though, a little wary in talking about her prospects of adding a second grand slam title to her already impressive record.

Perhaps the trauma she suffered on her first visit and her healthy respect for the woman she has supplanted at the top of the rankings accounted for that.

As a skinny 14-year-old Graf was forced to forfeit her opening match against Elizabeth Sayers (now Smylie) on wet grass at Kooyong in 1983 after falling and injuring her right thumb. One of her most sympathetic comforters that day was Martina Navratilova, whom she had hoped to play in the second round. Navratilova sent her a note of consolation, wishing her luck for the future.

"I went to leading specialists and they all said it (the thumb) was broken," Graf recalled yesterday.

"I came home after 10 days and went to the doctor. The tendon was broken. The doctor said, 'We have to operate straight away. If we do not you cannot play tennis any more'.

"I was lucky, I think. I was having the best doctor that was possible in Germany and he did a great job."

Graf could not hit a ball for four months while she convalesced in her home town of Bruehl and she was understandably reluctant to play on grass again. Since then she has been accused sometimes of dodging both Kooyong and Wimbledon.

Although Graf insists she no longer has a grasscourt phobia the fact remains that it was in the Wimbledon final last year that Navratilova broke her young rival's six-month unbeaten run. Graf's only other defeat in 74 matches in 1987 was at the hands of Navratilova, in the US Open final.

Not even Ivan Lendl, who has his own grasscourt nightmares, is more relieved that the Australian Open has been shifted from grass to hardcourts.

Graf was cautious in her assessment of Rebound Ace, which responds to spin and can yield a high bounce.

"I have to say I like it. It suits my game," she said, referring to her powerful forehand, which would be lethal even in a sandpit.

But service kickers to her backhand may well give her some awkward problems. Because of the high bounce, the ball could be very difficult to return.

"If somebody serves and volleys, it can be an easy shot for them," she said.

As Navratilova will be doing just that, Graf's priority is to try to develop a more effective net game. However, she admitted she was having trouble learning how to play approach shots. Her natural instinct is to stay back.

"I grew up on clay - on the baseline," she said.

Unlike those other teenage prodigies, Tracy Austin and Andrea Jaeger, the strongly built and emotionally stable Graf seems unlikely to suffer premature burn-out.

"I don't think it will happen to me because I enjoy playing tournaments and travelling around all the time," she said.

According to Slozil, Graf is different from any other young player he has known in her eagerness to work on her game.

"I have never seen somebody before who practised with love and every day, Saturdays and Sundays, eight, seven or six o'clock in the morning," he said.

But Slozil agreed that the setback in the career of fellow West German Boris Becker provided lessons. Graf is now far more popular in West Germany than Becker, who became affected by the pressure of his own expectations and his fans.

Graf said she felt no pressure being No 1. It had been hard to get there, but now she didn't think of it too much.

Asked about her chance of achieving the grand slam of the French, Australian and US Opens and Wimbledon, she laughed and said: "I'm 18. I take my time. It was amazing that I came to No 1 at 18, but now I am more interested in getting my game together, improving my serve and especially my backhand. I just go out and play and try to do my best."

The thrill of being a millionairess? "The money is not important. I'm not playing tennis for money. I have enough money and I don't care about it," she said.

She smiled tolerantly at a reporter who asked if she missed not having a normal life. She clearly did not regard herself as a poor little rich girl.

"What normal things do I miss?" she asked.

Concerts? suggested the journalist.

"In one day I play tennis for four hours at the most. I have a lot of time to do other things," she replied. "In Melbourne I have finally seen Cats and I'm very happy about that. I have been trying for a long time, and I really enjoyed that."

She looked so self-assured that it was easy to forget she was a teenager talking a foreign language. If Steffi Graf is as much in command in the second week of the Open she may at last erase the unhappy memory of her first time here.
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post #3045 of 5950 (permalink) Old Jan 4th, 2014, 06:10 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Actually discovered many 1988 Australian Open articles I didn't post. I wish the world could agree on date conventions! This one has two more great paragraphs by Mr. Bellamy. Steffi's joy was contagious.

Tennis: Evert completes a famous victory
The Times
London, England
Friday, January 22, 1988
From REX BELLAMY, Tennis Correspondent

MELBOURNE - Steffi Graf, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova looked surprised, even a little confused, after the women's singles semi-finals of the Australian championships yesterday. An hour or so earlier, all had reason to believe that Graf would play Navratilova in the final. Instead, she will play Evert.

Graf beat Claudia Kohde-Kilsch 6-2, 6-3 and then told us she was 'pretty sure' (a common view) that Navratilova would win the next match. But Evert won it 6-2, 7-2, whereupon Navratilova said she wanted to watch a film of the match: 'I couldn't work out what I was doing wrong.'

Evert, aged 53, had not beaten Navratilova in straight sets in a grand slam tournament since 1975. Pleased but puzzled, Evert admitted that she had not looked beyond yesterday's match: 'I hadn't thought about playing Steffi but I'll have to think about it now, because I haven't found a way to beat her.' Graf has won their last four matches in straight sets.

Having played Navratilova for the 76th time, Evert commented: 'I know how to beat her and she knows how to beat me. It's a question of executing the shots on a particular day. This was a great victory for me. It meant a lot. I won because I returned service well, passed well, won most of the baseline rallies - and because Martina missed a few volleys.'

That needs expanding. Evert's serving, anticipation, footwork and tactical variations were admirable. Her passing shots and lobs were bold and often deft. Her trainer had told her to pass down the line and she did so effectively, especially on the backhand.

Navratilova said that at first the brightness of the day bothered her. She may soon be playing in sunglasses if a suitable frame can be devised. But what really spoilt her game was the inconsistency of her first service (only 55 per cent were on target) and backhand approach shots.

Too often, she volleyed under more stress than she could tolerate. 'I had a hard time getting to the net and wasn't comfortable when I got there,' she said. But the match contained much smart, imaginative, highly skilled tennis and also had a close finish. In the second set Navratilova was twice a break up and she led 5-3. Evert, proud of the way she had bounced off the ropes, called home - in Florida - to tell her parents about it.

Graf, the first German to reach the final, plays a baseline game similar to Evert's, but faster. Yesterday Kohde-Kilsch, a competent all-court player as close to her best form as makes no difference, looked like a willow in a storm. To change the analogy, when she went to the net one thought of the Light Brigade.

Graf, range-finding, lost the first eight points but then punctuated the lunch hour with awful booming noises. A bird sang, a turbo-prop aircraft droned lazily by, and a butterfly with a death-wish fluttered across the court. None of that seemed to fit in with the thunder of Graf's tennis.

Quick, springy and supple, she skipped and bobbed about, belted the ball this way, and that, and had the time of her life. In the last rally Kohde-Kilsch played two shots that were probably going out, but Graf - at the net - played them anyway, just for the fun of it. She was airborne for her last shot: an acrobatic, flailing forehand volley packed with the boisterous joy of youth.

Jeremy Bates, who won the Wimbledon mixed title with Jo Durie became the first British player to reach the men's doubles final here since Fred Perry and Pat Hughes were runners-up in 1935. Bates and his Swedish partner, Peter Lundgren, beat Andrew Castle and Roberto Saad 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 6-3 and in two hours and 33 minutes amid the echoing emptiness of the centre court at the end of a crowded day.

Castle and Saad had played for five minutes and ten minutes the previous day. Hard and well though they laboured, yesterday's match almost inevitably assumed the nature of a swan-song. In the final Bates and Lundgren, a lively chap with a Medusa-like hairstyle, will play an American team, Rick Leach and Jim Pugh.

The men's singles semi-finals will be played today. The first concerns two Swedes: Stefan Edberg, champion in the past two years, and Mats Wilander, champion for the two preceding years. Wilander has won four of its six matches with Edberg on the kind of surface in use here and, moreover, looks in better form.

But even Anders Jarryd, another Swede concedes that the champion is likely to emerge from the other half. Ivan Lendl, who has won his last 31 matches on hard courts, plays Pat Cash, who beat him on grass at Melbourne and Wimbledon last year. Lendl won their five other matches. Like Wilander, neither has lost a set here. Each is playing like a superman.

Lendl prefers to attack from the baseline, Cash from the forecourt. The superb courts of Flinders Park give such contrasting styles of play an even chance, as we were reminded during the Evert-Navratilova match.

It could be a straw in the wind that Cash is living at home between matches, just as Lendl does while dominating the United States championships. So far, Cash has also been more consistent with his first service. But I have lost interest in backing anybody to beat Lendl.
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