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Old Jun 21st, 2002, 08:23 AM   #1
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Leaving the 1900s with a roar-The 90s

Well, the 90s are past us too, right? Lets talk about the 90s. I'd like to see threads on every decade in the Blast

Here's a bit on the 93 Wimbledon. It says Graf wanted to play a private match with Martina after the final!

By Sally Jenkins

Issue date: July 12, 1993

Though many luminaries, including Barbra Streisand and Princess Diana, made cameo appearances at the All England Club, the leading role in the Wimbledon drama was played by the tournament's famed lawn, which gradually changed from a lush green dell to a dust bowl. Indeed, the ground became so dry that it cracked in places. Among those too delicate for the hard, sunbaked terrain were Andre Agassi, the defending champion, who despite the cheering of his pal Streisand was knocked out in the quarterfinals by Sampras, and Jana Novotna, the women's finalist who suffered one of the more memorable collapses ever witnessed on Centre Court.

In fact, the only moisture at Wimbledon this year fell shortly after the women's final, which Graf won 7-6, 1-6, 6-4 to gain her third straight Wimbledon championship and fifth overall. After taking a 4-1 lead in the third set, the eighth-seeded Novotna committed a series of mortifying errors, including four double faults in her last three service games. She maintained her composure when she shook hands with Graf, and when she accepted the runner-up plate from the duchess of Kent. But when the duchess consoled her by saying, "Jana, I believe you will do it," Novotna burst into tears and laid her head for a moment on the royal shoulder. "I said to myself, O.K., you lost and you have to handle it, it's an occasion," Novotna said later. "But I just lost it."

Graf, who was waiting to accept the winner's plate, also began to cry. Because her victory had come at such an emotional cost to her opponent, Graf's initial elation evaporated. "I was very happy in the first few moments after the match," she said, "but once I saw her face, I knew exactly what was going through her mind. We've all been in that situation. So I really felt bad."

Graf was so dissatisfied with the match that an hour later she made an unusual gesture. She sent Rennae Stubbs, a fellow player and good friend, to Martina Navratilova's rented house, which adjoined the grounds of the All England Club, to deliver a message: Graf wanted to meet Navratilova in a private match later that afternoon. However, only Navratilova's coach, Craig Kardon, was at home. Navratilova, still pained by her 6-4, 6-4 loss to Novotna in the semifinals, had gone to play golf rather than watch the final.

Many observers, including Graf, had assumed that the 36-year-old Navratilova, a nine-time champion and the second seed this year, would make it to the final. "I'm disappointed she's not there," Graf said before the championship match.

Indeed, Navratilova's chances of collecting her 10th title had seemed better than good on Thursday when she met Novotna, who had not beaten her in seven tries. But Navratilova suffered lapses that often plague older players: Her arms and legs simply didn't show up for the match. She seldom seemed to hit the ball cleanly, and her racket often emitted a muffled sound that mystified her. "I never felt the ball," she said. "I don't know what else I could have done." Navratilova, incidentally, also had a celebrity friend in attendance: Academy Award-winning actress Emma Thompson.

Navratilova denied that her loss to the 24-year-old Novotna was the result of age or that it pushed her closer to retirement. Although she has not won a Grand Slam title since Wimbledon in 1990, she has won nine other tournaments and is a solid No. 4 in the world rankings. After losing to Novotna, she left Centre Court with a finger raised, promising at least one more visit. "I'll be back," she said.

It is telling that Novotna was just 3-16 against Graf coming into the final, despite having extended her to three sets in five of their last six meetings. Still, Novotna refused to acknowledge that she had collapsed under the pressure, claiming that she had gone for her shots and simply missed. "It was just a sad ending," she said. "I believe more than ever I have potential to win a Grand Slam."

Before that sad ending the Czech-born Novotna put three winners of Grand Slam events on the run. In the quarterfinals she dispatched 1990 U.S. Open champion Gabriela Sabatini. Then Navratilova fell, and she had Graf dead to rights by playing some of the most graceful tennis Centre Court had ever seen. She alternately cut Graf to the quick with volleys or lured her to the net with deft chips and slices, and then lobbed over her or passed her.

Graf won only seven points in the first five games of the second set, and Novotna remained in control through the first five games of the third. But with a game point for a 5-1 lead, she suddenly made three ghastly errors in succession. She mishit a second serve, which leveled the score at deuce, blew a high forehand volley to give Graf a break point and netted an overhead to yield the break. From then on, Novotna visibly retreated, and all the momentum returned to Graf's side of the court. Novotna proceeded to win only one point in the last two games.

Afterward, Graf pointed out that she deserved some credit for having hit a couple of winners and for having kept the ball in play. "I felt bad," she said. "It's disappointing in a way for me, because she played well, and she didn't make it. I just couldn't believe it, really. The thing that disturbed me was that I didn't play very good tennis."

If nothing else, though, Graf was resilient. She entered the tournament with an extremely sore right foot and shaky nerves, the result of the April stabbing of Monica Seles, who was ranked No. 1 at the time. What's more, Graf had to endure a heckler who turned up at the All England Club during the first round of play to unnerve her. After the heckler was escorted from the grounds, Graf traveled the club surrounded by security guards.

Graf trailed by dangerous margins in each of her last three matches. In the quarters she trailed Jennifer Capriati 5-3 in the first set before recovering to win 7-6, 6-1, and Conchita Martinez of Spain took a 4-1 lead in the first set of their semifinal match before losing her confidence and Graf prevailed 7-6, 6-3. Give Graf credit for this, too: The champions who endure are the ones who are alert enough to pocket not just the titles they win with scintillating play, but also those that their opponents throw away. Only six women have won more Wimbledon singles titles than Graf: Navratilova, Helen Wills Moody (8), Dorothea Douglass Chambers (7), Blanche Bingley Hillyard (6), Suzanne Lenglen (6) and Billie Jean King (6).
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Old Jun 21st, 2002, 01:59 PM   #2
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Thanx for the article, that was really was a memorable final. I so wanted Novotna to win it cause Steffi had won so many already.

Anyway. Steffi was one of the most resilient and mentally tough players of all time. Winning when not playing at their best is the true mark of a champion.
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Old Jun 21st, 2002, 04:11 PM   #3
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I dearly wanted Jana to win too Her victory in 1998 was so much like Virginia Wade's, another Wimby choker queen. Both had the sternest test in the semis vs. world #1's, then won finals over women playing their only slam final.


Funny how Graf grew to respect Martina more by 1993. It was different in the 80s!
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Old Aug 27th, 2002, 04:44 PM   #4
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Bumpbity -bump-bump
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Old Aug 27th, 2002, 05:28 PM   #5
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A report on the 1993 US Open. Enjoy

Serves and Follies

The U.S. Open was just so many crybabies and no-names until Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf dispatched the pretenders


By Alexander Wolff
Issue date: September 20, 1993

" The U.S. Open got it at least half right. Open it was -- so much so that seven of the 16 men's seeds were gone by the third round. But U.S.
players could hardly be found, especially on the women's side, where, for the first time in the 107-year history of the U.S. Nationals, none reached the quarterfinals. By the time the top players had ceased their infantile whining about the Flushing Meadow food ("Poison," said Andrei Medvedev, a quarterfinal loser), practice courts ("Potholes," said JimCourier, who went down in the round of 16) and scheduling ("Very poor concerning Becker," said Boris Becker, whose fourth- round defeat eliminated his first, second and third persons), Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf stood alone, as much for the attitudes they maintained as for the tennis they played.

"New York is not as bad a place as people think," said Graf, who might have been speaking for Sampras.
"I just play my tennis and sign my autographs and do what I have to do,"said Sampras, who might have been speaking for Graf.

Those comments could lead you to believe that the Open was dull. It wasn't. Ever since April, when an unemployed German lathe operator sidelined Monica Seles indefinitely by stabbing her during a changeover at a tournament in Hamburg, every one of Graf's victories has been fit for a frame of someone else's choosing. That's a shame. Since that fateful event Graf has won six straight tournaments, 36 matches in a row. If not for a
narrow loss to Seles in the final of the Australian Open in January, she would own her second Grand Slam. And she has lorded over the women's game while shouldering alone the pressure she once shared with Seles at the top.

The stabbing resurfaced as an issue on the eve of the U.S. Open when Seles showed up unexpectedly for activities honoring the late Arthur Ashe.She was disappointed, Seles told the press the next day, that she hadn't heard from Graf during her convalescence. The remark didn't sit well withGraf, who had visited Seles in the hospital in Hamburg and has triedseveral times to get in touch with her in Vail, Colo., where Seles is being treated. Even Seles's own people at International Management Group sometimes have a hard time keeping in touch with their client, who behaves like Greta Garbo one day and Madonna the next.
"I don't want to make it sound bad, but I have been trying," says Graf, who graciously mentioned Seles after the final. "It's just impossible to reach her. I know other people have tried."

The two places Graf has long called home, the family estate in Bruhl,Germany, and Boca Raton, Fla., where she keeps a house next door to her parents, symbolize the intertwined institutions of her 24 years -- family and tennis. That's why she's so excited about her new, $900,000 New York penthouse triplex in a converted police headquarters on the fringe of Manhattan's SoHo district. "To have a place of my own, to be able to decorate it myself, it's something I've always wished for," says Graf, who spent the Open's first week shopping for curtains. "And the neighborhood
is not at all like the rest of New York. There are little galleries and shops and restaurants. It's almost its own small city."

Graf patrolled the acrylic greenswards of Flushing Meadow with a distinctly New York countenance. She got right to her points. She served with alacrity, proceeded unsmilingly, avoided eye contact. In her 4-6, 6-1,6-0 semifinal defeat of Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere and her 6-3, 6-3 boxing of Helena Sukova in Saturday's final, she wore a black-and-white ensemble, coordinated down to the white headband and black bow. It was all very downtown. Curtains for the living room; curtains for everyone else.

Graf has finally reached the point where the man in her life is someone other than her stern father, Peter. Michael Bartels, 25, is a German
Formula 3000 race-car driver, and he and Steffi have been extraordinarily discreet in their courtship. One of their few public lapses took place at a tournament in San Diego in early August, when they promenaded around the grounds hand in hand. In Toronto at the Canadian Open a month ago,after a fan yelled out, "I love you, Steffi!" as Graf accepted the champion's trophy, she responded, "I'm taken."

Her confidence is palpable. "She's more independent, and it shows in her tennis," says Heinz Gunthardt, her coach, who has helped Graf improve the topspin backhand passing shot that served her so well when the 6 ft. 2 in.Sukova rushed the net. After the tabloid roasting that Graf's father endured during a paternity imbroglio, after her dethroning as No. 1 by Seles, afterthe emotional turmoil of Hamburg (where Seles's assailant said he acted so Graf might return to No. 1), it is a welcome sight: a female tennis adolescent getting through to adulthood in more or less straight sets.

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Old Aug 27th, 2002, 05:31 PM   #6
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The 1994 Aussie. LOL@ the WTA making Kimiko learn English and the early Davenport

The only person in Melbourne more overwhelming than Sampras was women's champion Steffi Graf, whose 6-0, 6-2 victory over second-seeded Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in 57 minutes last Saturday was one of the shortest Australian finals in memory. Sánchez Vicario was no more than a convenient target for Graf's axlike strokes. Graf, who did not come close to losing a set in collecting her fourth straight Grand Slam
crown and her 15th overall, was thrilled by her performance. ''When I play this way, I don't care about the score or the length [of the match] or whether it's the first round or the final,'' she said. ''It just feels wonderful.''

Graf was too pleased to reflect for long on the absence of former No. 1 Monica Seles, who's still inactive nine months after being stabbed by an attacker in Hamburg, Germany. But Graf admitted that she finds the game more interesting when she has a challenge. Without Seles or JenniferCapriati, who has taken a sabbatical to finish high school, the women's draw seemed almost vacant.

Until, that is, Graf met Lindsay Davenport, a 17-year-old Californian who checks in at 6'2". Davenport is an unselfconscious giggler who resembles Rosie O'Donnell more than Rosie Casals. On the court, though, she has the strokes of a serial killer. She upset sixth-seeded Mary Joe Fernandez en route to the quarterfinals, where she lost 6-3, 6-2 to Graf.

No sooner had Graf dealt with Davenport than along came Date, who had upset third-seeded Conchita Martinez in the quarters. Date is an ambidextrous wonder who is far better than she showed in a 6-3, 6-3 loss to Graf. A resolute Japanese patriot who has had to be ordered by theWomen's Tennis Association to learn English, Date cooked her own rice lunches in Melbourne and had acupuncture in her knees after every match. She rose to No. 7 in the rankings with her performance in Australia.

While Davenport and Date preoccupied Graf for only so long, SánchezVicario could not preoccupy her at all; she won only 12 points in getting bageled in the first set. Unless Seles returns, Graf could repeat her 1988 Grand Slam. Indeed, she may be an even better player than she was five years ago.
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Old Aug 27th, 2002, 05:51 PM   #7
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The 1995 US Open-with the return of Monica Seles
An intriguing section on the jail time of Steffi's dad Peter. Also a section on Seles's friendship with Capriati

Ace of Hearts

For Steffi Graf and Pete Sampras, the U.S. Open was never so sweet
By S.L. Price
Issue date: September 18, 1995

You never heard so many New Yorkers so quiet. Money and power and sweet connections brought them all here,19,883 bodies stuffed into the seats of Louis Armstrong Stadium, and for the first time in 13 typically noisy days at the U.S. Open there is absolute stillness in the air. No one speaks for five seconds, six,and then it becomes impossible to sustain: A lone girl's voice trills down to the tennis court:
"Steffi!" And Steffi Graf, lean and troubled and in a place no one, most of all herself, thought she would be, throws the ball high. Her serve tags the net cord and lands deep. A gasp ripples through the place, relief piled upon tension piled upon disbelief. It is just too intense, all of it -- Monica Seles and her astonishing comeback, Graf and her astounding life, this Open that had, finally, presented the drama that tennis often promises and rarely delivers.

Double match point for Graf. She serves a second time, and Seles crushes the ball, simply steps in and drives it crosscourt with that lethal two-handed backhand -- and in that moment the past and future merge, 2 1/2 years
fade, and both the crowd and the women's game roar back to life. Could it have been more perfect? Here it was, the dead center of the sport's biggest Saturday ever, featuring six players with a combined 43 Grand Slam titles among them, six players who had all known the rarefied perch
of No. 1. And yet, even with Pete Sampras and Jim Courier, and AndreAgassi and Boris Becker threatening to crush the women's final between
their big-name semifinals and their men's-game arrogance, it was Graf and Seles who carried this Open, who held off the memories of the men who
hurt them, who transformed a painful year into a future rich with promise.

It is match point again, and Graf serves, and so quickly it is over: Seles dumps a forehand low, making it 7-6, 0-6, 6-4 for Graf, and Seles rushes
the net, waiting there with open arms. The two women, connected for so long by the blade of a lunatic's knife, hug and then kiss each other's
cheeks. It is just short of unreal. For until this moment, the guilt of this had weighed on Graf: Gunther Parche stabbed Seles in Hamburg in April 1993because he was a Graf fan. To meet Seles in the final -- to know that she had blasted through the first 11 matches of her comeback without losing even a set -- was pure relief. "Absolutely," Graf says. "And it's even more
important to see her play that well and obviously enjoy herself and be ... so at peace with herself. It's so great to see that."

Yes, it was in one sense, as Stefan Edberg put it, a "Seles Open." And,
with mighty Monica back and Sampras blasting Agassi away 6-4, 6-3,4-6, 7-5 in the men's final, it was also the Circus Maximus for one 800-pound gorilla of a sneaker company, whose poster children and slogans were ubiquitous. "It's Nike's world; we're just living in it," saysDavis Cup captain Tom Gullikson, who like Seles, Sampras and Agassi is a Nike Guy. But it was the Adidas-sponsored Graf's unexpecte endurance that made this Open a precious thing. Graf has now won 18 major titles, an Olympic gold medal and the sport's last Grand Slam. None of that meant more to her than last Saturday. "This is the biggest win I have ever achieved," Graf says. "There is nothing that even comes close to this one."

Why? Because even as Steffi wept and smiled oncourt, even as theflashbulbs flickered over her face and her trophy, her father -- and manager -- Peter sat in a jail cell in Mannheim, suspected of failing to pay German income taxes on a reported $1.5 million of his daughter's earnings-- a figure that could rise to $7 million. According to the German news magazine Der Spiegel, Peter's arrest in August was the result of evidence in a suit brought against Peter by a tournament in Essen, Germany, run by manager-promoter Ion Tiriac. Peter, long known for his cash-only demands for Steffi's appearances, has not been allowed to speak to his daughter since his incarceration. She has not been implicated, but German authorities presumably do not want the two to coordinate their stories.

At the time of Peter's arrest, Steffi was in the U.S. The German press wen into a frenzy, staking out her apartment in New York, following her with a shopping cart as she picked up groceries in Boca Raton, Fla. She decided to stay in the U.S. and play the Open, and before it began, she sent Peter
-- the man who had drilled her into a championship talent, and the man,too, who had mortified her with a much-publicized dalliance with a model
during Wimbledon in 1990 -- a copy of the drawsheet. Last Thursday,two days after she had avenged her one loss of the year, to Amanda Coetzer, with a three-set win, Steffi sat near her mother, Heidi, and listened while her parents talked. She wasn't allowed to say a word. "Ahh,"
Steffi said later, "but I did hear him." Her parents talked on the speakerphone. Steffi, silent, listened to her father's voice crackle across the ocean.

Throughout her Open, through her wins over Nathalie Tauziat and rising star Chanda Rubin and surprising Amy Frazier and a resurgent Gabriela
Sabatini, Graf battled the chronic bone spur in her back, and a new bone spur that had sprouted in her left foot. Worse, she is the 26-year-old hub
of a $125 million empire, which puts her at the center of this case involvingher father. So even as Seles coasted through her first six Open matches without losing a set, and a collision between the two loomed closer with each passing match, Graf kept getting bombarded with news and gossipand worries about the case. "Some people now think they can take advantage of the situation and put pressure on you about different things," Graf says.

Steffi plans to return to Germany soon -- where she may face interrogation
-- to rein in the operation Peter let run afoul of the law. She says she has no regrets about leaving her money matters to her father; how else could she concentrate on tennis? "But I do have to look after more things now," she says. Take a little more control? "A lot more control," she says. "And basically I don't know how."

After her first six wins at the Open, Graf spoke of how shocked she was by her performance. Yes, she had won the 1995 French Open with little preparation and Wimbledon with her back giving her fits, but she fully believed her concentration would buckle under the strain in New York.
Yet, in the U.S. Open's oddest twist of all, it was Graf -- not theiron-willed Seles -- who proved mentally stronger. Serving at set point in the first-set tiebreak, Seles fired what she thought was an ace and beganrunning toward her chair when the ball was called wide. Seles couldn't
believe the call -- replays seemed to show it was wide -- and she could not get over it. Graf blasted a forehand to win the point, and then Seles looped two forehands long. "Two-and-a-half years ago, if I have that call,I would say, 'O.K., Monica, it's gone,'" Seles said after the match. "This year, it was bugging me through the whole match. That's what I have to get back."

When Graf suddenly realized she could beat Seles -- and win her third Grand Slam of the year -- she was nearly frozen by nervousness. She wasted the second set 0-6, and the momentum appeared to belong to Seles. Graf herself figured it was time to lose. But as suddenly as it had dissolved, Graf's serve took shape again, and Seles crumbled. Graf brokeSeles in the fourth game of the third set, and that was enough. The question mark that hung over all six Grand Slam events Graf had won in Seles's absence was gone; Graf served out to win one of the great women's matches ever.

Off the court, however, life promises to be more difficult. "I have to think I will be tough enough," Graf says of the months ahead. "I know at some stage I'll be able to deal with everything, to look everyone in the face ...and we'll just move on."

But not yet. For just as Graf was winding up her postmatch pressconference, just as she was about to finish off two weeks of remarkablecomposure, one face in the packed room asked whether she would be able to see her father when she went home. "No," Graf said. She said she would talk to her lawyers. She was very calm. Someone asked if she would be able to talk to her father about her time in Flushing Meadow,about being stronger than she ever thought possible. "I don't think so," Graf said. "Doesn't seem like it."

Then, without warning, Graf crashed. Her face reddened, her hand flew toher eyes and she spun out of her chair. She ran out of the room and
ducked into the only refuge available -- a cinder-block bathroom where,amid a sink, two toilets, a mirror and four echoing walls, the 1995 U.S.Open champion took her father, her fear and her strangely cursed talent and tried to be alone.

It is late, 5:05 p.m. on Friday, and Monica Seles has long since disposed of Conchita Martinez in the semis. She is being led to a room under the
stands when she notices light coming from up the tunnel; suddenly she boltsfrom the group, out to the stadium court. Storm clouds scud overhead, and
the place is empty and huge, and the seats escalate to the sky. She stands for 10 seconds, staring. "I just wanted to see it with the lights," she says softly. "It's beautiful."

This, Seles says later, was her mission for the Open. She wanted to gather every smell and sound and feeling into a package and take it with her. Sothere was a trip to Barney's to buy hats and the presenting of an MTV award and the night she painted her fingernails five different colors and
standing on the sidelines at a Monday Night Football game. There was themoment just after her first match back at a Grand Slam event ended and
she went over to a crowd of kids in the stands and turned her back to a crowd of strangers and flung a towel high over her head.

"I just wanted to do that, to feel that," Seles says. "I wanted to take some memories back. Like in 10 years from now, I can say, This is what I felt. I don't have that from '91 or '92."

No, when she won the Open those years, Seles went away full of tennis and nothing else. She spoke often of this year's Open as something "fun"
and giggled through every press conference. But it is easy to mistake Seles's laughter for joy, rather than the nervous tic that it is, and there were moments, even in New York, even during matches, where memories of the stabbing flashed through her mind. "A few times they come," Seles says.
"But I know I have the next point, and I know if I miss that next point, I get mad at myself. I tell myself, O.K., O.K., just forget it. The tennis helps."
But only when you're ready for it. Later that Friday night, Seles's closest friend from her old days on the tour, Jennifer Capriati, ends a long absence from tennis by appearing at a dinner for the International Tennis Hall of Fame. She looks thinner, happier than in the aftermath of that infamous night in May 1994 when she was arrested for possession of marijuana, and doesn't blanch when Chris Evert, onstage, says into a microphone,
"Jennifer ... I just want you to know. We miss you, and we want to see you back, babe. It's great for the game." Applause fills the room. A spotlight falls on Capriati.

Seles and Capriati have tried reaching each other but haven't connected.Seles thinks she could help ease Capriati's return. But "Jennifer has to feel
that for her own self," Seles says. "Otherwise she's coming back for somebody else, and that's doing the same thing she tried to escape from."

Strange, in this game, how one misery tracks another. For just as Graf steeled herself to composure in that bathroom -- and the pack of
photographers set up outside -- a small, oblivious parade passed by just outside. First came Monica, a bouquet of flowers in hand, chattering, then
her father, Karolj, and mother, Esther. They were leaving the U.S. Open now, all giggling at once. It was impossible, at that instant, to read the
scene and know anything. Who was the loser? Who won?
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Old Aug 27th, 2002, 06:02 PM   #8
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A few personal memories of the 1995 US Open.

That near ace(or ace as Monica and others thought) was crucial. Had Monica won set 1 she would probably have taken the match in straight sets.It was damn close. The article says a replay showed it seemed wide. At the time I thought it was good, but then I wanted Monica to win.

It was an amazing display of serving form both women. This was a true shock on Seles's side, as her pre-stabbing serve was Hingis-like.

The SI report says the third set was 6-4. That may be wrong(I think it was 6-3). In any case, set 3 wasn't as close as the score suggests. Seles was out of gas. At that time herlack of fitness was understandble. I'm convinced had she gotten back in shape she would have won many more slams. For whatever reason, she hasn't.

Martinez was criticized for her poor attitude in the semis. She looked and played like she had no chance from early on. This was especially sad coming from the #3 woman in the world.

Novotna had a set point on Monica in the quarters.
On set point Jana approuched the net and Monica fired a bullet past her. Monica then crusied to a 7-6 6-2 victory.
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Old Aug 27th, 2002, 06:18 PM   #9
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1994 Wimbledon. This was an entertaining match. I'd suggest it to anyone looking for a good mid 90s tape. I only wish I had Mcneil's dramatic matches with Graf and Martinez on tape!

A Last Hurrah
Pete Sampras and Conchita Martinez were the winners at Wimbledon, but Martina Navratilova stole the show


By S.L. Price
Issue date: July 11, 1994

There's nothing sweet in the sound of greatness going down. It echoes the wear of too many years, the realization that time has chipped away the best part of your talen until, one day, there isn't enough left. Until one Saturday in July, you are
Martina Navratilova standing, for the 22nd consecutive year, on the patchy grass you love most, in the embrace of 13,118 people and Wimbledon's Centre Court. And you are grunting. The ball drops over the net, you run but have no chance and gasp "Eeeeungghh!" You rap a forehand
crosscourt to draw even in one game and bark "Come on!" because, at 37, you need pushing. You break Conchita Martinez with a rare forehand pass, bellow "Yes!" and frame your face with your fists. You talk to the air.
You lose.

So it was that the 1994 Championships at Wimbledon, which began as an upset-fest and almost became a daily seminar on rules and on-court
behavior, ended as a changing of the alltime guard. On Saturday the 22-year-old Martinez halted Navratilova's hope for a 10th Wimbledon singles title, continuing the new Spanish conquest by becoming the firstwoman from Spain to win tennis's premier tournament. While Navratilova twice double-faulted on break point in her final set of her final Wimbledon and kept netting her once flawless volley, Martinez burned one dazzling
passing shot after another by the helpless legend to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

It was her first Grand Slam final, Wimbledon no less, but the implacable Martinez played as if an earthquake wouldn't disturb her. Only at the end,
after she had flung her racket into the gray English sky and Navratilova had hugged her, did Martinez begin to know what she had done. "She was
going lower and lower -- I was holding her up," Navratilova said. "I remember how that first one felt. The first one is the best. It's such a pure feeling."

The less-experienced Martinez approached her final-round appearance on Centre Court with a bit more decorum. "I was nervous," she said. "I was thinking, Oh, my god, what am I going to do? I have to make a curtsy there and a curtsy there. I was thinking, What if I don't do it well?"

The tennis was less a concern. Martinez, a Wimbledon semifinalist in '93,played as though she were born to grass. Growing up in Monzon, Spain,
she practiced against a wall she named Martina. By the end of Saturday she had beaten the real one. "I was great the whole match," Martinez said
-- which is as good a way as any to announce that tennis has a new star.

Just in time, too. Navratilova's first march to a Grand Slam singles final since 1991 made for irresistible drama, but it also highlighted how shallow the women's game is beyond No. 1-ranked Steffi Graf. With Graf having been knocked out in the first round, and with Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati at least temporarily out of the game, the women's draw opened up wider than the Chunnel. Navratilova wasn't seriously challenged until Gigi Fernandez gimped onto the court for their semifinal match. Ranked 99th and hampered by hamstring and quadriceps injuries -- "I have no legs," she said -- the 30-year-old Fernandez came to Wimbledon mulling retirement and pulling for her Aspen neighbor, Martina. In other words, not the stiffest ompetition Navratilova has ever faced.
"I don't really care," said Navratilova after struggling to a 6-4, 7-6 win."I'm in the finals." By fortnight's end, that was all that mattered. It seemedonly right that the greatest champion Wimbledon has ever known have a final run on the lawn. "This is what I wanted: to go out in style," said Navratilova.
With Princess Diana, singer k.d. lang and South African deputy presidentF.W. de Klerk all attending the women's final, she did. But her bond with Wimbledon goes deeper than royalty. "This court," Chris Evert once said, "is her court."

No other surface suits Navratilova's game as well as grass, and as the site of her first Grand Slam singles title, in 1978, no other tennis tournament ever evoked as pure an emotion. Once during the first week, Navratilova came to Centre Court after everyone had gone, "at night, with just the guard dogs." Just to see the place, alone, like some giddy, awed teen.
Who better to remind us why this is the most revered place in tennis?

"I loved Wimbledon from the first time I knew about it," she said. "It's like a relationship where you love that person more and more. It gets deeper.
And, you know, it's been reciprocated. I feel this place in my bones. I feelall those champions, dead and alive, when I'm out there. There's no place
like it."

Yet before Navratilova's opening match, against Great Britain's ClaireTaylor, there was no hint that this place could revive her game. After bombing out of the '94 French Open in the first round -- and smashing a racket in disgust -- she looked slow and nerveless in a quarterfinal loss to 39th-ranked Meredith McGrath at Eastbourne, a Wimbledon tune-up.
"Everything is much slower," said Jana Novotna, last year's Wimbledon finalist, of Navratilova after that. "Her will is there, but the body just can't do it anymore."

However, Navratilova's coaches, Craig Kardon and Billie Jean King, kept telling her that once she got to Wimbledon, where she had won 18 titles
overall, she would feel the old magic. They were right. The moment she walked onto Centre Court to face Taylor, the sun broke through for the
first time all day. Walking off, she told Taylor, "Turn around. Enjoy it. This doesn't happen very often."
But it did. Navratilova rolled to another five wins and didn't lose a set until her first against Novotna. For the remainder of that match she played her best tennis of the tournament, and the result was a near blanking in the last two sets, 6-0, 6-1. "I wouldn't have predicted that," Navratilova said.
Then again, this wasn't a time to be predicting anything. Martinez began thetournament as a 33-to-1 shot. At the start of the fortnight, who would have bet on a woman who insisted she had been inspired by the king of Spain,even if two of his other subjects, Sergi Bruguera and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, had just won the French Open? Who would have imagined thatafter two weeks, longtime Wimbledon darling Boris Becker would exit
with a damaged reputation?

Becker's sour Wimbledon exit was the flip side of Navratilova's teary final farewell. Someone yelled, "Come back next year, Martina!" but she shook her head no and blew a kiss. "It was so sweet," Navratilova said. "People feel what I feel, and it's nice that I can share that. I can bring people closer to Wimbledon through me. They can feel it, and that will continue when I'm
not around."

She trod on tradition by circling the court -- the first time anyone could remember a loser taking the champion's stroll -- and the Centre Court
crowd stood and saluted Navratilova with the day's best sound. At 4:20 p.m. she moved toward the door, curtsied, then broke off to collect a last
few blades of grass. Seventy-five minutes later she walked out of the clubentrance, climbed into a car and rolled slowly away. Two girls closed the
black iron gates behind her.
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Old Aug 28th, 2002, 08:17 AM   #10
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Thanx for the articles Rollo. Some additons to some of the articles.

Apparently with Date, she was in tears when the WTA tried to encourage her to learn English during her Australian Open run.

That match where Davenport defeated M. Fernandez was strange. I remember watching Davenport pound winners everywhere for a 5-1 or 5-2 2nd set lead to suddenly self-destruct and loose the set 6-7, but then win the 3rd. Lindsay was pasting Mary Jo during the 2nd, if I didn't know better I thought Lindsay began to feel sorry for her friend and took her foot off the peddle. Suddenly she wound up losing the set...

I have part of the McNeil vs. Martinez match on tape and I feel in the 3rd McNeil did well to get to 10-8. She just wasn't capable of being the little more adventurous to clinch the vital points. Martinez pinned her on the baseline at times and Lori had no way of getting in, as her groundies were solid but nothing else. At the end when she did push forward..... goodbye.
I always believe the fact that Martinez played Radford and McNeil was the perfect preparation for her final against Martina. Radford and McNeil attacked the Martinez backhand constantly (keeping traffic away from the 'supposed' forehand weapon) and suddenly by the final Martinez was seeing the ball on that side as big as a pumpkin.
Radford choked away the 4th rnd match, one of my down moments in womens tennis.

The Graf vs. McNeil 1st rnd was one of the poorest matches by Steffi I had ever seen. Basically troubled by Steffi's power groundies Lori would hack the ball back anyway she could and wait for the eventual error. Or just run forward and wait for the error. I got frustrated by Steffi's lack of game plan and she seemed basically fed up with the game at this time. But full credit to Lori..... Lori struggled past Florencia Labat and Yone Kamio with everyone having fingers crossed that she wouldn't fall apart after beating Steffi.

This was one of the first times Steffi had lost two matches in a row. Mary Peirce had played one of the most devastating matchs ever to smack her in the semis at the French and Steffi didn't play any lead up's to Wimbledon. That Peirce match was probably the best matchs I have seen for sustained power hitting and even the big hitters now would've been on the defensive with the way Mary played that day against quality opposition.

I read Monica's biography re: Steffi not contacting her after she was visited in hospital. Interesting to see another side. BUT Steffi did cop flak for not mentioning Monica at the French Open earlier that year after her win over Mary Jo. The fact that she mentioned it at the US Open (the next opportunity to do so at a Grand Slam - with Wimbledon not allowing this at that time) might show that she realized her mistake.

Continuing on from the debate between Monica and Steffi from the 1981 thread. I always thought the match at the 93 Aus Open was the time when Seles was starting to show superiority over Graf. The venue a grand slam final, the surface had been kind to both players over the years and there was no excuses for anyone not to play well. There came a period in that final in the 3rd when it was anyones for the taking. Steffi had the crowd on her side but it came to the person with the mental strength and the pride to show who was boss. I saw the mental part of this match to be more important than the players strokes. That person was Monica and I always thought that this match was going to be a defining moment in their rivalry. Defining in that she was beginning to win the mental battles over Steffi.

Alas we will never know for sure....
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Old Sep 2nd, 2002, 11:12 AM   #11
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You're a gem louloubelle. Poor Kimiko being forced to learn English. She could get tricky later on though. I saw her once where she insisted on a translator then midway into the interview corrected the tranlator's translation!


Here'a an article from early 1990, when Monica was up and coming but not top 4. LOL at how she learnt English(watching the Jetsons), her dog, and love of clothes.

Enjoy

Seles Is Fast-Growing and Slow-Going;Yugoslav Teenager In No Hurry for Glory
The Washington Post Jan 17, 1990; Christine Brennan;

The Monica Seles 1990 update includes the following items: 11th grade is going well, except for geometry, which is tough,especially when you have to do homework on planes and draw the lines during turbulence; the skiing in Europe was horrid (no snow); the two-handed backhand and forehand are here to stay; and the last person who wants to rush Monica Seles into
superstardom still appears to be Monica Seles.

Seles, 16, was in town yesterday to promote the $350,000 Virginia Slims of Washington, Feb. 19-25 at George Washington University's Smith Center. She came, she saw, she had a Coke, she giggled. And she had a few things to say, the most important
of which is she hasn't changed-except for growing another inch, to 5 feet 9-and still is going to take it slowly as she begins her career as a tennis professional.

Right by her side was her father, Karolj, a cartoonist, TV director and physical education professor back in Yugoslavia, who was there to nod, listen and perhaps protect his daughter.

What happened last year was intoxicating: an upset of Chris Evert in her second professional tournament, a trip to the French Open
semifinals, winnings of $254,000 and a No. 6 ranking in the Slims computer.

Yet Seles sat in her room in the Mayflower Hotel and said, in all seriousness, "Tennis is just a little part of my life."

Really.

"I do not dream of winning Wimbledon," she said. "I don't dream of holding the French Open cup high over my head. I just play tennis. I have always loved to watch Chris and Martina and Borg and Connors on TV, but I never saw myself in their place. Other kids I knew did. But I never idolized them, except maybe for Chris's way of dressing."

Clothes are never far from Seles's thoughts, since she loves to shop, has a particular affection for hats and has appeared in Vogue,Elle and Seventeen. Throw in the fact that she learned English from watching the cartoon "The Jetsons" (her Yorkshire terrier is named Astro) and that she was awestruck by the airplanes over the U.S. Open and it's easy to paint a ditzy picture of tennis's latest
and best teeny-bopper import.

But that's not an entirely accurate portrayal. Seles comes with the looks and the omnipresent father, the European background and the Nick Bollettieri training, but she seems to have something that few others in the game ever have had: patience.

"I've talked to Chris and Pam Shriver about this and they told me to play very few tournaments as I started out," she said. "You always hear stories about Andrea Jaeger and Tracy Austin, but there are a lot of really good stories too. A lot of young players played a lot of tournaments and got burned out. A lot of young players played a lot of tournaments and didn't get burned out. So it's pretty much an individual thing."

There will be about a dozen tournaments on Seles's calendar this year, including the one in Washington, and another dozen or so in
1991, when she graduates from the Bradenton Academy in Florida and gets on with the rigors of weekly life on the tennis tour.

For now, though, every trip is an adventure, every outing a new discovery. She and her brother went to the dog races one night in Florida, but she didn't like it because she started thinking of Astro and got rather sad. She missed last year's Super Bowl in Miami but won't do that again if someone offers tickets in the future.

And she is fascinated by other female athletes. Florence Griffith Joyner? "I loved to watch her." Katarina Witt? "I always wanted to be a figure skater when I was little." Janet Evans? "I love her too."

Throughout it all, Seles believes little will change.

Except, perhaps, her height. She has spurted five inches in two years, but still is short for her second-best sport, basketball.

"Who knows?" she said. "When I come to Washington in February, I could be 6-1."
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Old Sep 2nd, 2002, 11:25 AM   #12
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1990 again,as Monica storms to the Itallian.

The 1990 Italian final:
Love Martina's quote

Monica Seles handed Martina Navratilova one of her worst defeats, 6-1, 6-1, winning the Italian Open in Rome yesterday and capturing her fourth successive tournament.

"I feel like I've been run over by a truck," top-seeded Navratilova said after the 53-minute match.

"This comes at a great time," said Seles, seeded second and ranked third, of her first win over Navratilova in four tries. "It gives me a lot of confidence going into the French." The French Open begins in two weeks, and Seles has won 20 straight matches.

Navratilova said she was emotionally drained after Saturday's victory over two-time defending champion Gabriela Sabatini.

"I left all my emotions on the court," she said. "I was just flat today. I never really got into the match.

"It's just a loss. It doesn't matter if it was love and love or 7-6 in the third."

Navratilova double-faulted twice in the first game. Before the match she had promised to hit "junk" to keep Seles from teeing off with her two-fisted forehand and backhand.

But nothing bothered Seles, 16, as she slugged from the baseline. Navratilova committed numerous errors, and the few times she managed to get to the net, Seles often left her flat-footed with passing shots.

"I could never sustain the rallies or get her to back off," Navratilova said. "She was eating up everything."

At 2-1, Seles won 20 of the next 23 points to win the first set and take a 1-0 edge in the second. Then at 2-1, Seles dropped just five points in taking the next four games to close out the match.

"I played very well but not as great as I can play," Seles said. "I played constant and that was the key today."
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Old Sep 2nd, 2002, 11:46 AM   #13
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The Seles juggernaut rolled on as she stopped Graf in Berlin

Seles Shatters Graf's Streak at 66, Wins 5th Title in Row
Washington, D.C.; May 21, 1990;

Monica Seles ended Steffi Graf's 66-match winning streak today, capturing the German Open, 6-4, 6-3, and extending her own streaks to five tournaments and 24 matches.

"I was so far away from playing my best tennis, it was difficult to get into it," Graf said. "If I play like that I can't expect to win."

Top-ranked Graf hadn't lost since June 10, when Arantxa Sanchez Vicario beat her in the French Open final.

Her winning streak is the second longest in the modern era of women's tennis. Martina Navratilova won 74 straight in 1984.

Seles, ranked third, lost the first two games before breaking Graf's serve twice for a 4-2 lead, and never was headed.

"This is just one match," said Seles. "I'm just happy that I'm playing well."

Asked what she planned to do with her $100,000 winner's check, 16-year-old Seles said: "Maybe after the French Open {which begins May 28} I'll buy a car. I'm the only one of the top players who doesn't have a car. My taste is a little exotic-I'd like a Lamborghini, but I'll settle for a red BMW."

It was Seles' first victory over Graf after three losses, the most recent in Brighton, England, seven months ago.

Seles, who routed No. 2 Navratilova, 6-1, 6-1, for the Italian Open title last week, said she has gained a lot of confidence in recent months.

"I'm much more experienced now and I wasn't afraid of Graf as much as before," she said.

At 4-2 in the first set, Graf hit a forehand long on the first point of the sevent game and showed her frustration by slamming a ball into the net.

The West German recovered to win the game, but Seles never let up.

After both held serve for 5-4, Seles, the Yugoslav had three set points on Graf's serve.

Graf saved the first with a forehand winner and Seles squandered the second with a backhand wide. But Seles converted the third, connecting on a blistering, forehand winner.

Seles jumped to a 2-0 lead in the second set, breaking Graf's serve in the second game.

Graf broke right back, but was broken twice more, including the final game, when she hit a forehand long on match point.

A smiling Seles held her arms high in celebration, and the stunned, Graf-partisan crowd stood and applauded as the players shook hands.
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Old Sep 5th, 2002, 09:55 PM   #14
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Just a small contribution to this thread (among the adults): The year 1999 was the real changing of the guard, to the current era. Several players had breakthroughs of one kind or another at Wimbledon that year, and were big stars: Dokic, Stevenson + Lucic all did really well, although Lucic hasn't done much since, and only Dokic has had some big tournament wins. This was when the story came out, that Julius Erving, the basketball great, was really Stevenson's father, married to someone else, then as now. Erving immediately admitted responsibility, never denied fatherhood of her, said it was wrong, and, it turned out, had been supporting her financially all these years. It shouldn't have happened, but now that it did, Erving showed true class, as always.
Davenport won it that year, now clearly one of the top players, and also won doubles w/Morariu, who felt just fine and was discovering how wonderful life can be. Another slam win that year, though, actually became the beginning of the end. Hingis's win at the Australian, the last of a line of slam wins, seemed just the continuation of things; who would've guessed then, that she has not won one since? Also, a note: Tulyaganova won the Girls' title at Wimbl. that year, Navratilova's current doubles partner.
This was Novotna's last year, injured at the French Open (ankle), and never a threat to repeat at Wimbledon, depressed, she was beaten, QF, by her friend Davenport, and announced her retirement at the U.S. Open a little later. There was also, of course, the wild French Open final bet. Graf+Hingis, which you probably just ought to buy a video for, rather than try to explain it all. 1999 was also suddenly the first year since 1995 that Novotna played the Australian Open, although I don't know why she suddenly did again--already planning to retire that year?
Also, apart from this: what special memories does anyone have of Zina Garrison, esp, during the '90s? There have been a few recent things on TV--A+E "Biography" on players and retirement, ESPN Classic "Sport Century" profile. She suffered for a while after retirement, depressed, didn't know what to do with herself, (also the eating disorder even before), and was deeply hurt by the death of her Mom, whom she was close to. I thought she made a great announcing team w/Nav. + Mary Carillo at Wimbl. last year.
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Old Sep 6th, 2002, 05:44 PM   #15
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This thread (and the whole blast from the past) are great!. I got hooked into tennis around 1991, and since that moment Sabatini was my favourite player. For me, the years from 1990-1993 were the most exciting ones. Of course, Steffi and Monica dominated, but you also had Sabatini, Navratilova and Arantxa , and also (although not as succesful), Mary Joe , Conchita and Capriati, and you could feel the excitement in the matches against one another. Of course, Graf and Seles won most of the time, but if they lost it wasn't a shock as it may seem now.

Hidden, from Zina I remember her great run at Wimbledon in 1990 (though I didn't get to see her). I watched her at the US'Open in '94 or '95 against Conchita in a close match, and she had wonderful volleys. Too bad she wasn't more succesful, because she had really a nice game to watch.

I think she beat Arantxa in Wimbledon'94, but then lost in the Quarters.

Do you people remember Mary Pierce's run at he French open in '94? She seemed to come out of nowhere (for the general audience, because she was almost in the top 10 then), and lost about 13 games in 5 matches. Her match against Graf was the best display of power tennis I have ever seen. And since then, and for some time, every match that she lost was a huge surprise for me. I found it hard to believe that she could lose sets with that game!!
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