Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2
Thought I will post this here as well (posted it in the conversation about Serena being th GOAT and the best athelete ever. This is from old Amy Cotrell google group, courtesy of Julie Hardwick. Interesting that Andre was after her from early 90's but never knew about her 800m potential till the beach date.
Steffi Should be the Bo Jackson of Tennis
By Peter Bodo
As a former used-car salesman, Peter Graf knows the value of playing down
the speed and performance of any given vehicle and stressing its reliability
and durability. Thus, it's hardly surprising that Graf also is coy about the
exact speed of his daughter, Steffi.
About three years ago, when Steffi was seventeen, Peter Graf had her clocked
in the 800-meter run. When he is asked to reveal her time, he will only
smile benignly and say, "Just two or three seconds over two minutes. It was
anyway a good time."
In fact, Graf's time was better than the German junior girl's record in the
event. The women's world record for the 800-meter is 1:53:28. Furthermore,
Graf runs the 100-meter dash in under 12 seconds. Graf worked out in 1988
with a former German male 400-meter champion, who agreed that Peter's girl
runs on high octane.
Graf is so fast that shortly after the U.S.Open 1988, she contemplated
giving up tennis and taking up a career in track. That definitely would have
been a mistake. She should continue to play tennis and run track as well.
If Bo Jackson knows baseball and football and if Deion "Prime Time" Sanders
can hit a home run in the major leagues and a return a punt in the NFL for a
touchdown in the same week, surely Steffi can run track. Or play basketball.
Or swim, or pole vault, or throw a hammer or mud wrestle with the best of
them. Much as we love to have her around, Graf is too good an athlete to
"just" play tennis.
Unexploited: The crazy part of this idea is that Graf not only could
practice another sport at the world-class level, but perhaps should do so.
The evidence suggests that a great deal of Graf's athletic potential is
going unexploited. Her matches consistently last well under an hour. In the
1989 U.S. Open, Graf beat top 50 player Terry Phelps in 37 minutes in the
third round. Helena Sukova got just two games off Graf in the quarterfinals.
After the rout, Graf was seen on Court No. 27 practicing.
Simple statistics such as match times only begin to tell the story. After
Graf demolished Sukova 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Australian Open a year
ago, I asked Graf how many sets she could have played at the same level
before she was exhausted. "I'm not sure," she replied, "but maybe six or
seven." Think about it: Graf could be playing not best-of-three but
The nature of tennis would allow the Graf train to run on a parallel track.
Should she decide to compete at a world-class level in another sport, Graf
ought to receive a dispensation from the rules that require her to play in
minimum number of sanctioned tournaments.
Tennis has no concentrated season for early summer, when the French Open and
Wimbledon are played with an interim of only two weeks. Tennis players have
no team obligations to complicate their schedule or training priorities.
Courts exist almost everywhere, and this is the age of the coach cum hitting
Graf could dominate the game while playing only the Grand Slam tournaments
and as little as one tune-up even before each of those. That's a grand total
of 12 weeks. Add one week of concentrated practice between tune up and the
grand-slam event, and the grand total is only 16 weeks - one-third of the
year. As an alternative , Graf should simply skip the Australian Open or
U.S. Open, giving her roughly six months away form tennis either at the
beginning or at the end of the year.
Graf would have to hit tennis balls even when she is concentrating on
another sport. But keeping an eye in would not be as difficult as keeping
her competitive instincts honed. After all, Jackson and Sanders have far
more difficult problems to face, from the physical punishment of football to
the exhaustive schedule of baseball.
It has been more than two years since Graf toyed with the idea of running
track, but it isn't too late yet. At 20, Graf is not yet at her physical
peak, but she is at the summit of her profession. Anything is possible.
Well, almost anything.
No. Steffi does not know synchronized swimming.