Re: Steffi Graf - The Wimbledon of Tennis
1984 Wimbledon Article
The British admire Steffi Graf at Wimbledon
Wimbledon's Centre Court was completely full when Claudia Kohde stepped onto the famous turf for her round of 16 match against three-time champion Chris Evert.
Many wanted to be witness to the surprise that not a few experts had quite believed to be possible of the 20-year-old from Saarbrücken. But as so often happens in such situations, the nerves can't keep pace with the ambitious expectations that the current best German tennis player also had felt was a quite realistic assessment of her chances. Claudia Kohde was quite obviously not up to the pressure, which mounted and weighed heavily on her --hesitating and afraid where determination and willingness to take risks would have been in place-- stumbled into the traps which get her again and again.
After 73 minutes, already it had collapsed, the bold dream of advancing to the round of the last eight and equaling Bettina Bunge, who had even reached the semifinals two years ago.
Steffi Graf also lost in the same round. But in contrast to Claudia Kohde, the hopeful talent from Brühl near Mannheim went out with flags flying high. After the sad loss against England's last hope, Jo Durie, she at first couldn't hold back her tears. In her disappointment over the missed chance to march into the quarterfinals as the youngest player ever in the now-100-year history of the women's tournament, she even had almost forgotten the obligatory curtsy toward the Royal Box, from which the Duke and Duchess of Kent had watched her match with complete admiration. The winner, eight years her elder and better acquainted with the customs in the Mecca of the white-clothed sport, kindly drew her attention to the omission.
The duel on the grass was often enough the other way around [from the outcome]. For the small, almost fragile-looking little doll repeatedly showed the 10th seeded favorite how world class tennis is played. At the end, Jo Durie could be overjoyed at having still pulled the win out of the fire after being down 1-3 in the third set. "It was nerve wracking," she admitted afterward. "Steffi was quite calm, while I became inwardly more flustered and impatient. She may just be 15-years-old, but she has a much older head on her young shoulders!" The relief of still "having survived" this one time more was unmistakable.
Even in the next encounter, it could be she who tastes defeat, since the experts at Wimbledon were in agreement that Steffi Graf still has a lot to offer the tennis world. Of that, the bright/quick tennis flea herself is obviously firmly convinced, as well. "I want to be champion here one day," said Steffi Graf, very pertly, and made no secret of it that she wants to achieve this goal in two or three years. Her tears, of which she was no way ashamed, were long since dried and her eyes looked straight ahead.
The headlines of the sports pages of London's daily press a day later belonged to Jo Durie, of course, but absolute admiration was aimed at the "little magician" from Germany -- as she was called in one of the headlines. During her first appearance on the venerable Centre Court, she didn't show a trace of nervousness, and even set to work courageously. "Her game looks at least five years older than she actually is," so it went in one of the street papers. And an especially vivid description read thus: "This little tiger on gazelle's feet brightly illuminated a grand theater!"
Last edited by Steffi-fan; May 28th, 2011 at 12:51 PM.