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Old Oct 18th, 2012, 01:49 PM   #2401
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ms. Anthropic View Post
I think something important in Steffi's career happened today (October 18). How can it be 30 years already?
So true. Thanks for reminding.
On another note, she STILL has the best legs in business

http://www.cordonpress.com/pedidos/s...s/ppage14.html
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Old Oct 23rd, 2012, 07:08 PM   #2402
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

^^yep, still so fit !
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Old Oct 25th, 2012, 09:29 AM   #2403
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

I saw her up-close when I went to the Taipei exhibition and dinner last May. Yes - still very fit, and her legs are still the best!!!
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Old Oct 26th, 2012, 07:13 PM   #2404
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Does 1987 + 25 really equal 2012?

GARRISON'S CHANCES SLIM, NONE VS. GRAF NO. 1 SEED ROLLS AT GARDEN
The Record (New Jersey) - Thursday, November 19, 1987
Author: By Bill Pennington

Steffi Graf loves to shop when she's in New York. The world's top-ranked woman tennis player spends her free time here chasing down baubles at Bloomies.

"The best stores on the tour," Graf said.

Shopping may be the best way for her to spend the days leading to Sunday's final of the Virginia Slims Championships at Madison Square Garden. Graf could get a better fight at the perfume counter at Saks Fifth Avenue than she did last night from Zina Garrison, her first-round opponent.

Don't be afraid to call this one an annihilation; that's what it was. The first set took 18 minutes, the match lasted all of 47 minutes.

Graf won the first eight games, dawdled a bit, and then advanced to tonight's quarterfinal round against Helena Sukova with a 6-0, 6-3 wipeout.

It's a wonder Garrison, a 24-year-old from Houston, won any games last night. Only an apparent lapse in concentration by Graf kept the score from being 6-0, 6-0.

Graf, 18, no doubt was planning today's midtown excursion.

"I am the number one player," she said when asked to assess the 1987 season minutes after trampling Garrison. "This is an important tournament for me. An important point and a buildup to next year. "

How is Graf going to play better next year?

"I can do more," she said. "I lost twice this year. "

Graf s 1987 match record is 72-2.

Two of the tour's better players though their games seemed far off Graf's pace also advanced last night. In the opening match, Sukova rallied to defeat Lori McNeil, 2-6, 7-5, 6-2. Fourth-seeded Pam Shriver held on in the third set to defeat Katerina Maleeva, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, avoiding what would have been an embarrassing collapse.

Graf said she learned from watching the matches Monday, when Chris Evert lost to Sylvia Hanika, and Tuesday, when Martina Navratilova struggled through the second set of her victory over Caterina Lindqvist.

"I think I realized anything could happen," Graf said. "I was anxious to play, anxious to get it over with. I'm glad it was easy today. "

Was it ever. Garrison won nine points in the first set and just four points after the first game of that set.

"She's just so quick," Garrison said. "Several times I hit shots that would be winners against anyone else. Steffi turned them into winners for her. "

The second set was chaotic. Graf was up 2-0, and then the players split the next four games.

"I was thinking ahead too much," Graf said. "I was trying to close it out all at once. I wanted to get out of here without having to keep playing well. "

Shriver's match was not supposed to be so spirited. Some are saying Shriver, the only American-born player left in the field, is new, improved, and mentally tougher.

Shriver had most of the 12,027 fans at the Garden believing in her new image after the first set last night. But then she stumbled in the second set.

And in the third set, after the players split the first six games, Maleeva had two break points. Shriver served two aces to escape. Then she broke Maleeva and coasted to victory.

So maybe Shriver is new and improved after all.

"I think I was just tired from playing doubles last night until 1 in the morning," Shriver said. "I was definitely shaky tonight.

"It brought back memories from a couple years ago. I hope it's just a freak thing, because I don't want to go back to where I was before losing matches I shouldn't lose."

Tonight's other quarterfinal match pairs Italy's Rafaella Reggi and West Germany's Sylvia Hanika.
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Old Oct 27th, 2012, 08:00 PM   #2405
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

COMPUTER QUEEN GRAF LIVES UP TO HER RANKING
The Record (New Jersey) - Monday, November 23, 1987
Author: By Bill Pennington

You didn't have to be fluent in German to understand that Steffi Graf was in a bad mood yesterday.

Yelling at herself in her native tongue, calling herself a "dummy" and once referring to her tennis racquet as "a traitor," Graf was losing points, losing confidence, and losing her match to Gabriela Sabatini.

Graf wants to be accepted as the world's greatest woman tennis player. The Virginia Slims computer said she would hold that ranking regardless of the outcome of the final of the Virginia Slims Championships at Madison Square Garden yesterday.

But if she had lost, all the computer printouts in the world could not have changed the perception that Graf still cannot win the big titles. Of the 1987 major tournaments, she won the French Open but lost in the finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

A paper champ? A computer chip champ?

After losing the first set yesterday, Graf could hear the whispers. So she yelled. She railed at herself and rallied her game, charging past Sabatini, the 17-year-old from Argentina, to win the Slims Championships, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, 6-4.

Although the Slims is not considered a major, it is the last women's tournament of the year. It was to be the final showdown between Graf and Martina Navratilova.

Sabatini, playing the best tennis of her career, eliminated Navratilova Friday. After one set yesterday, serving magnificently and running the court effortlessly, Sabatini finally seemed ready to beat Graf in their 11th meeting. Sabatini was gliding from sideline to sideline and most of the Garden crowd was behind her.

"I was wondering what was going on," Graf said.

So was everyone else.

On her side of the net, Sabatini was concentrating on maintaining the sneak attack.

"After the difficult matches I had Friday and Saturday [a three-set victory over Manuela Maleeva], I knew I had to win it today in three sets," Sabatini said of the best-of-five format. "I could only win it that way. I was too tired to play very well for four or five sets. "

Graf saw the desperation in her opponent's eyes. "I knew she would have to get tired eventually," Graf said. "I was trying to make her run. "

The players were on serve until the eighth game of the second set. Sabatini double-faulted at break point. She broke back in what might be best described as a last gasp, then lost serve and the set in the 10th game.

"I knew it was over then," Sabatini said later.

And it was.

A week ago, Steffi came to New York to shop and assert her dominance, though not necessarily in that order.

She did both. And afterward, she even displayed a sense of humor.

Asked how she would describe her year, when her match record was 75-2, Graf answered in a long, obviously preconceived soliloquy that mentioned many of her 1987 tour victories.

"Yesterday [Saturday] I took a long time to fall asleep," Graf said. "I was thinking of how to describe my year. I had a weird thing going on. I'm going to describe my year like I was cooking and making a menu card.

"For an appetizer, I had Boca Raton and Key Biscayne. For the main dish, I had a hearty and tender French Open topped off with Berlin and Rome. On the side, I had Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals.

"But the bad thing about my cooking was that I didn't take enough salt and pepper on both of them.

"For dessert and I like dessert very much I had Hamburg and Zurich, and best of all, New York.

"That's how I describe 1987. It was very tasteful. "

And entertaining.

Even in defeat, Sabatini described her week in New York City as "the best week I've ever had."

Sabatini, not Navratilova, may be the toughest competition for Graf in 1988. In the last two months of the year, Sabatini has improved dramatically.

Yesterday, fatigue was a factor, but Sabatini may have also showed her inexperience. She was fine as she slugged it out with Graf, armed with forceful ground strokes of her own. But she double-faulted 17 times.

"I think sometimes she was trying too hard," Graf said of her doubles partner.

In the end, it was Sabatini who was muttering to herself on the court. Graf was still speaking in German, but this time yelling to a crowd of fans waving a German flag in the stands. She thanked them for coming out and wished them a safe trip home.

She was smiling. She was laughing. She was on top of the world. The women's tennis world, that is.
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Old Oct 28th, 2012, 06:25 PM   #2406
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Doubles partners will vie for title
Houston Chronicle - Sunday, November 22, 1987
Author: CHARLES CARDER

NEW YORK CITY - Doubles partners Steffi Graf and Gabriela Sabatini - a couple of teen-aged tennis terrors - will meet today in the final of the Virginia Slims Championship at Madison Square Garden.

With the departure of the dominate tennis figures of the past decade - Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Pam Shriver - due to early round upsets, the youngsters are left to compete for the championship. They removed the last "veterans" in the semifinals on Saturday.

Graf, 18, needed only 67 minutes to eliminate the oldest of the semifinalists, 28-year-old Sylvia Hanika 6-1, 6-4. Sabatini, 17, required two hours and two minutes and three sets to dispose of 20-year-old Manuela Maleeva 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

The length of the semifinals may become a factor in the final, which is scheduled for best of five sets. Neither contestant has ever played more than three sets.

Graf was a finalist here a year ago but lost to Navratilova in three sets. Sabatini has never been scheduled for more than three.

"Maybe she (Graf) is in good shape because she won easily," Sabatini admitted after her long match. "I am a little tired now but I have a lot of time and I think I can be ready.

"I am very happy because I never thought I would be in the finals."

Graf, of West Germany, is the No. 1 seeded player and Sabatini, from Argentina, was seeded fifth. Graf gained the final by defeating Zina Garrison, Helena Sukova and Hanika, while Sabatini advanced with wins over Bettina Bunge, Navratilova and Maleeva.

Not only did Graf have the easier time in the semifinals, but she also has history on her side. She has never lost one of the 10 previous meetings with Sabatini. However, seven of the previous meetings have gone three sets.

Navratilova and Shriver repeated as doubles champions, defeating Claudia Kohde-Kilsch and Helena Sukova 6-1, 6-1. It was the third time in the last four years that Navratilova-Shriver have won the championship.

The Saturday matches attracted a single-session record of 17,312 despite subfreezing temperature and a chill factor of 12 degrees below zero.

Graf rolled in the first set, but the second set was a mixture of service breaks. Hanika was broken in the third, fifth and seventh games but Graf could not close it out because she lost her serve in the sixth and eighth games.

"It is very easy to lose concentration after the first set was so easy," Graf said. She admitted that she had been prepared to face Evert in the semifinals, but Hanika ruined that plan with her upset on Tuesday.

Graf said that she had been looking forward to meeting Navratilova in the final before she was upset by Sabatini in the semifinals.

"I was asleep Friday night, so I didn't find out about it until this morning," Graf said. "Maybe Martina was trying too hard, she was very eager to win the tournament. And I was looking forward to playing her."

Hanika said she had been very nervous during the first set but added that "I'm very satisfied with the way I've played in this tournament."

Hanika said she might extend her coaching agreement with former Rice University player Mike Estep. Estep, former coach of Navratilova, has worked for two weeks with Hanika.

"We'll talk about it in the next couple of days," Hanika said. "We'll see about the future."

Graf and Sabatini are very quiet individuals and sometimes are amazed how their innocence draws reactions from other people. Graf revealed that in the past they haven't talked when they were playing doubles.

"We're getting along better," she said. "Now we speak on the court."

After a round of laughter, she inquired, "Why is everyone laughing?"

Sabatini was so happy with her success that she smiled throughout her postmatch interview.

"Yes, I'm confident," she said. "I think this is the best moment for me in tennis. This match and last night (against Navratilova) have given me a lot of confidence. I never thought that I was going to lose.

"There is nothing that I will do differently, expect trying to concentrate from the beginning. I think that I am playing better than the last time we played (at Los Angeles in August).

"I think I've learned mentally and I know better how to play the points."

Maleeva was disturbed that she had made so many mistakes against Sabatini.

"I'm not pleased with the way I've played in this tournament, not after this match," Maleeva said. "Yes, I was pleased with the way I had played in the other matches.

"I shouldn't let these things bother me. But that is one of the mistakes I made."

Maleeva lost her serve in the first, seventh and ninth games of the first set while breaking Sabatini in the eighth game. But Sabatini lost her serve in the second set, in the third and fifth game, while breaking Maleeva in the eighth.

Neither player was able hold serve in the fourth through eighth games of the deciding set but, leading 5-3, Sabatini held to close out the match.

Hanika, who had just lost to Graf, was asked what a player has to do to halt Graf's 74-2 match winning record for this year.

"Well, come to the net against her, to play well, serve and volley and just go for it," Hanika said.

Sabatini, only 17 years old, will be going for it today against the No. 1 player in the world.
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Old Oct 28th, 2012, 07:50 PM   #2407
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Asked how she would describe her year, when her match record was 75-2, Graf answered in a long, obviously preconceived soliloquy that mentioned many of her 1987 tour victories.

"Yesterday [Saturday] I took a long time to fall asleep," Graf said. "I was thinking of how to describe my year. I had a weird thing going on. I'm going to describe my year like I was cooking and making a menu card.

"For an appetizer, I had Boca Raton and Key Biscayne. For the main dish, I had a hearty and tender French Open topped off with Berlin and Rome. On the side, I had Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals.

"But the bad thing about my cooking was that I didn't take enough salt and pepper on both of them.

"For dessert and I like dessert very much I had Hamburg and Zurich, and best of all, New York.

"That's how I describe 1987. It was very tasteful. "

And entertaining.


Comparing the year to a menu card, yum.......
Still bummed of how she was described by many as a one dimensional tennis machine and nothing more.
In a way, glad that the press got her wrong
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Old Oct 28th, 2012, 09:44 PM   #2408
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Sorry but :
Quote:
Graf could get a better fight at the perfume counter at Saks Fifth Avenue than she did last night from Zina Garrison, her first-round opponent.



Thanks Ms. Anthropic for all the articles, still delighted to read them.
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Old Oct 29th, 2012, 01:21 PM   #2409
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stef-fan View Post
Comparing the year to a menu card, yum.......
Still bummed of how she was described by many as a one dimensional tennis machine and nothing more.
In a way, glad that the press got her wrong
Oh, she could be very droll and sarcastic. Just a brief survey of some of my favorite humorous Steffi quotes/stories:

From the 1985 US Open:

At Wimbledon, when they asked Boris Becker why he wore a watch during his matches, he said: "I have a contract with the watch company."

Steffi Graf, also from West Germany, likewise wears a watch, and John Feinstein of the Washington Post asked her at the U.S. Open if she, too, had a contract.

"No," she said.

They why does she wear it?

"I wear it, because if I didn't, I would lose it," she said.

***********************************

After thumping Claudia Porwick in 34 minutes in Berlin in 1987, she joked: "It was icy cold when we started the match, so I thought I'd better get it over with quickly."

***********************************

After playing Sabatini in front of a capacity crowd of about 8,000 at the Italian Open in 1987, she was asked if the crowd's very vocal support of Gaby bothered her: "It wasn't that bad," she said. "There were eight or nine guys in one corner who kept yelling, 'Steffi.' "

***********************************

After she won the 1987 French Open, Bud Collins interviewed her court-side and asked, "What won it for you?"

And the 17-year-old smart-ass laughingly replied: "The double faults." (If the NBC broadcast is on Youtube, check it out.)

***********************************

On meeting Michael Jackson in 1988, in the middle of the Slam hysteria: "He was very nice. He didn't ask me about the Grand Slam."

***********************************

From the 1990 VS of New England: A reporter asked, "Why did you use your forehand so much?" Steffi replied with a grin, "Because it works."

***********************************

From 1994 Delray Beach: "I'm happy to give you this check for $80,000," said Ed Sherman, who represents Infiniti motor cars, the sponsor.

"How can it be a pleasure to give away $80,000?" Graf cracked.

***********************************

Also from 1994 Delray: When they asked her about her winning streak, she countered with: "It's better than a losing streak."

***********************************

From Wimbledon 1995, some poor journalistic soul had the temerity to ask: "Tell us something we don't know about you, something you've wanted to tell us that we've never asked you. You know, something that you've been waiting for us to ask you."

The answer was a rather arch: "I haven't been waiting for anything."

The reporter pressed on and Steffi talked a little bit about her dogs and then said, "You are really writing that down, huh?"

**********************************

More dogs, from Wimbledon 1992: "My dogs?" she said. "Oh, yes, I talk to them every day. I must, every day and night. I call and they tell me: `We miss you.' "

**********************************

Making fun of her yearly allergies at the 1996 French Open: Q. You sound like you have a cold. Have you? Is it serious?

STEFFI GRAF: I'm in Paris.

***********************************

Playing with the press at the 1996 French Open: Q. Anything specific you're going to be doing for fun during the next week?

STEFFI GRAF: I have nothing really on my mind, unless you've got something to tell me.

Q. What an opening. A young guy from San Francisco.

************************************

After winning the 1999 French Open, she showed up early the next morning for the customary trophy photo and interview sessions, despite being perhaps still a bit worse for wear from celebrating. When asked about the party by a German reporter, she said: "Wir haben bis halb vier auf den Tänzen getischt." Which translates to "We tabled on the dances until 3:30." Par-tay!

*************************************

Being perhaps too arithmetically subtle during her interview for breaking the record of weeks at Number One:

Q: My question is related to just the idea of thinking about records like this, it just seems to me that you probably either don't care about them or are not going to dwell on them that much, but it is kind of one that should be pretty historical. It should last a long time.

STEFFI GRAF: Definitely another couple of six, seven years.

**************************************

Somebody once asked Heinz if she was dour in private, and he told this story:

He recalled a match that Graf won easily without once lobbing a ball, despite circumstances that dictated a lob.

They talked after the match, and Gunthardt pressed her on the need to hit balls up top on occasion.

Gunthardt, who has been with Graf 2 1/2 years, says he always tries to guide Steffi into his way of thinking, never ordering her.

So, the next day during practice, he crowded the net so closely in their practice session that Graf had no way to get by him but to go over him.

Stubbornly, she refused to lob again. Not one lob the entire practice session.

"Next match, she hit a lob for a winner on a really crucial point," said Gunthardt. "And then she turned and smiled at me. That's her sense of humor."

******************************************

My own personal favorite, the moment when I became a fan for life, at Wimbledon 1988 during the final. It's the famous point in the second set with Navratilova leading 2-1, and Steffi serving at 30-15. The point is glorious, but Steffi's response is just as awesome, but it takes a close-up on the NBC replay to see it (I don't know if other sources have it). The replay shows that as she is braking her forward motion after hitting the winner, the hem of her skirt flips up. Steffi quickly flips her hem back down, and there is just the
subtlest motion around her mouth as if to say with mock self-consciousness, "How unladylike of me!" and downcasts her eyes as if to say tongue-in-cheekly, "How immodest of me!" And then keeps her eyes oh-so-humbly downcast on the way back to the baseline, but strides with a carefully restrained swagger as she dribbles the ball with her racquet. It's perfect! The director/producer did a great job of picking her reaction up.

******************************************

And this is just priceless, on so many levels; I'm sure the details are a cherished story told at many NBC behind-the-scenes-crew parties. This happened in December 1990, reported in January 1991:

On a whim, tennis star Steffi Graf ended up at the Mike Tyson-Alex Stewart heavyweight fight in Atlantic City, N.J., last month.

While in Detroit for an exhibition, Graf was interviewed by a crew for "George Michael's Sports Machine" on NBC. Afterward, the crew members said their next assignment was the fight, and they jokingly asked Graf whether she wanted to go. So Graf rented a jet and flew the crew and herself to the fight. It was barely worth it, because Tyson won with a knockout at 2:27 of the first round.

**************************************************

And I haven't scratched the surface. I mean, sometimes her humor is the off-kilter variety, or playing the bumbling fool variety, or the "brick joke" variety, so a lot of people won't/don't appreciate it, but it's there.
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Old Oct 29th, 2012, 04:58 PM   #2410
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Quote:
More dogs, from Wimbledon 1992: "My dogs?" she said. "Oh, yes, I talk to them every day. I must, every day and night. I call and they tell me: `We miss you.' "


I like this sens of humor, nowadays I would say Murray has kind of the same
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Old Oct 30th, 2012, 08:51 PM   #2411
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ms. Anthropic View Post
After thumping Claudia Porwick in 34 minutes in Berlin in 1987, she joked: "It was icy cold when we started the match, so I thought I'd better get it over with quickly."

**************************************************

And I haven't scratched the surface. I mean, sometimes her humor is the off-kilter variety, or playing the bumbling fool variety, or the "brick joke" variety, so a lot of people won't/don't appreciate it, but it's there.
It's amazing how quick matches went by back in the day. I wonder how many matches Steffi won in under 40 minutes.

Of course there is that famous "Steffi, will you marry me?" response as well as her answer-in-the-form-of-a-question to the reporter who asked her if there is anything that gives her a buzz like tennis does haha --> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKthgogpjr4
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 02:22 PM   #2412
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by XTN View Post
It's amazing how quick matches went by back in the day. I wonder how many matches Steffi won in under 40 minutes.
I think it all depended on how much stalling the opponent did. A quick search of the scriptorium yields some information (and another great Steffi the Smart-Ass quote, this one from 1989 San Diego after beating Kohde-Kilsch in 42 minutes: "Was it that fast again? Oh no."):

From 1987 Boca Raton, def. Kanellopoulou in 35 minutes and def. Gomer in 34 minutes.

From the 1987 Lipton, def. Keil in 38 minutes and def. Bonder 36 minutes.

The infamous 1988 French Open final, def. Zvereva in 32 minutes.

1989 Mahwah, def. Kessaris in 32 minutes.

1989 USO, def. Phelps in 37 minutes.

I know there are a few more, but haven't these poor girls already suffered enough?
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 02:27 PM   #2413
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

[And I haven't scratched the surface. I mean, sometimes her humor is the off-kilter variety, or playing the bumbling fool variety, or the "brick joke" variety, so a lot of people won't/don't appreciate it, but it's there.[/quote]

Thank you for taking the time to post all those replies
Don't think the regular sports press can understand subtle humor, that would be expecting too much of them...

Few more that I can recall:

After beating Monica Seles at Wimbledon in 92:
Bud Collins: Were you afraid of her??
Steffi: Laughs and the says "no not really!!"

After 95 FO:
Bud Collins again: I haven't see you crying (or being emotional) before!!
Steffi: Then, you have just not seen me enough!!
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 03:52 PM   #2414
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Amy, thanks a ton for sharing those quotes/ repartee! Thoroughly enjoyed reading those :-)

This video also cracked me up
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKthg...e_gdata_player
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 02:54 PM   #2415
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

An article in which Steffi and a South Florida journalist commiserate on the then-sad plight of the Miami Heat basketball team. Steffi as a loyal-yet-forlorn fan....


My Hoop Dream: Steffi Vs. Martina
CHARLES BRICKER
March 7, 1995 | Sun Sentinel

DELRAY BEACH — I see Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova in a little one-on-one hoops. I see Steffi whipping the old lady with her outside shooting. I see Martina muscling down deep for some easy baskets.

"Hmmm," Graf mused Monday. "Yes, it would be interesting. But I think she'd probably beat me up."

I don't know. The way Graf said "interesting," with a kind of faraway look in her eyes, I got the feeling the seed has been planted.

These are the two preeminent athletes in women's tennis today and it's no coincidence that two women with such adroit athletic skills in tennis would be so intensely interested in basketball.

The game has become, after tennis and soccer, the most international of sports.

Anyone who knows anything about Navratilova knows she was turned on to the game by former women's player Nancy Lieberman. She then used basketball as a cross-training exercise for tennis.

Graf's background in hoops is less well known, but she is no novice at the game, even if she hasn't shot it around in three or four years.

She learned to play growing up in Germany and when she was invited to Germany's Olympic training center to work on her tennis, she met and received some personal tutoring from the national team basketball coach.

Crazy about the Heat

How good is she? I don't know. I've never seen her handle the ball. But I've seen her play tennis enough to know that if she got serious about women's basketball, she'd be good. Damn good. Good enough to send Martina back to the Lieberman Clinic for some remedial work.

When Graf settled in Boca Raton nine years ago, her interest in basketball was heightened by the number of NBA games she could get on her TV set. And when the Heat started up, it took her, as she put it, "to a new dimension."

When she's not on the road, she shows up for Heat games more often than John Salley. And, yes, she goes as crazy as the fans in the cheap seats.

Only, she pointed out, there is a lot less to go crazy about these days at the Miami Arena.

Still, she said proudly, "I'm not giving up. I'm still going, no matter what."

Last week, she was at home in Boca with her parents, who are visiting from Germany. "We're watching the Denver game and the Heat comes from behind and I'm screaming in my seat," Graf says. "Then my mother gets into it. And the Heat loses."

Graf sags. She's living and dying with these guys.

Let 'em play at halftime

She is, to most tennis fans, generally unemotional. She goes about her business on court with clinical precision. When things don't go well, she doesn't throw rackets or kick the umpire's chair.

But at Heat games, she turns into Ms. Hyde. "That's one of the great things about America," she said.

You go to a game and the people sitting around you become your friends for a night. "They start yelling. `What's he doing?' Or, `Why did he take that shot?' And then I get into it. People are friendlier in the U.S."

You got to love the Heat a lot to drive down from Boca, about 55 miles away. But Steffi has given a lot of herself to these stiffs.

It's about time they gave something back. They don't have to put together a 10-game win streak. I'd settle for a Graf-Navratilova night.

Martina will be down here next month for the Fed Cup matches at Turnberry Isle.

How about the people running the Heat promotion department get on the honker and give her and Graf a call and set it up at halftime. First one to 15 by ones.

It will be better entertainment than the other show going on in there.
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