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Old Sep 11th, 2013, 09:19 PM   #2896
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

THE PAST AND FUTURE ALREADY HAUNTING GRAF
The Times Union
Albany, NY
Sunday, September 11, 1988
Buzz Gray

Steffi Graf walked up the line ready to serve and looked down the court at history. Waiting for her was the first Grand Slam point anybody has faced in 18 years.

When she won it, to defeat Gabriela Sabatini at the U.S. Open, Graf became branded for life. If she lives to be 100, she'll never escape Saturday's rare achievement or the identity that goes with it.

"Don't ask me now how I feel," Graf said. "It will take a couple of days to sink in."

But for fans and followers of the game, Graf immediately moved alongside the greats of tennis. Only two other women and two men had won the four major tournaments in a single year.

The championships of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open have always been both prestigious and elusive.

How fitting that the first person to win the Slam in a single year, Don Budge of the United States, was one of the first to congratulate Graf.

"He told me he thought I would win it (Slam) all along," Graf said about Budge, who won his four exactly 50 years ago. "He thinks I'm going to win a couple of more, too."

At only 19, Graf certainly has the time, talent and temperament. She dropped only two of 56 sets during her cruise through the Slam.

Is she the greatest woman of all time?

Not yet. In fact, Graf still must take a back seat to Maureen Connolly of the United States. Connolly was the first woman to win the Slam when she did it in 1953. Not only was Connolly younger than Graf by three months, she dropped just one set in the four tournaments.

It was Connolly who seemed destined to be the greatest of all time because of her youth and overwhelming dominance.

But her career and then her life came to tragic ends.

Less than a year after winning her Grand Slam, Connolly fell off her horse and broke her right leg, severing all the muscles in her calf. Her tennis was over. So was her life 14 years later when she died of cancer.

Graf was born the Saturday before Connolly died. Some see significance in that. Graf doesn't know.

"Please don't ask me to compare myself with others right now," Graf said before flying back to her home in West Germany. "I need some quiet days."

The comparisons are just beginning, however. Graf has already been asked countless questions about Margaret Court of Australia. She was the last person, and only other woman beside Graf and Connolly, to win a Slam in a single year. That was 1970.

Court was truly an outstanding player, but she never dominated like Graf. In fact, she was fortunate to win Wimbledon in her Slam year, outlasting Billie Jean King in the final, 14-12, 11-9. They didn't play tie-breakers in those days.

They have since Martina Navratilvoa came along. And perhaps the hardest controversy involving women's Slams involves Navratilova.

She won the last three majors of 1983 and the first three of 1984, giving her six Slam titles in a row. But while she held all four Slam titles consecutively, she didn't hold them in a calendar year.

"You can believe what you like," Graf said. "I believe they (Slam titles) should all come in the same year." Graf refuses to be drawn into an argument whether Navratilova should receive more recognition for her sterling strength of six straight Slams.

Navratilova joins a list of dominant women players who somehow let the Slam elude them in a single year. Consider that Chris Evert and King won each of the Slam events several times, but never all four in the smae year. Two obscure women players, Doris Hart and Shirley Fry, also have won each of the majors, but never in the same year.

The only other man beside Budge to win a Slam in a single year was Rod Laver of Australia. And he did it twice, in 1962 and 1969.

Jimmy Connors of the U.S. looked like a shoe-in for winning the Slam in 1974. He breezed through the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open, but was barred from the French Open that year because he had played team tennis.

Others, like Lew Hoad in 1956, won the first three majors, but failed in the fourth one. Hoad was beaten in the final at Forest Hills by Ken Rosewall.

The fact is, only four men and seven women have won all four majors in their careers. And now, thanks to Graf, five persons have done it a single year.

Graf is quite capable of doing it again next year. Only two women (Navratilova and Sabatini) have beaten her in the past 26 months. Back-to- back Slams, eight majors in a row, would have been unthinkable not long ago. Now it's a good possibility.

"There's Steffi and then there's the rest of us," Sabatini said. "Not many could have done it. Her mentality is perfect."

So is her tennis.
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Old Sep 11th, 2013, 09:19 PM   #2897
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Sports of The Times; A Champion For All Seasons
George Vecsey
September 11, 1988
New York Times

She began it in the blazing sunlight of Melbourne in January and continued it in the swirling red dust of Paris in springtime and extended it again in the sweet early summer of Wimbledon.

Yesterday in the late-summer mugginess of Flushing Meadows, Steffi Graf completed the Grand Slam - capital letters and all, the old-fashioned way, four in one calendar year - by beating her doubles partner, Gabriela Sabatini, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, in the United States Open.

The match was spotty, and Graf seemed tentative for the first time in her long chase. She admitted later that she had felt the weight of ''a lot of expectations.''

'' 'Only if she breaks her leg,' you hear it all the time,'' she said.

One can only speculate if Martina Navratilova - who once won six straight majors over two years, and still believes she, too, won a Grand Slam - would have found a way to keep Graf from a traditional Grand Slam. But Navratilova fell to Zina Garrison in the quarterfinals.

And one can only wonder whether, with her sense of her own place in history, Chris Evert could have derailed Graf if Evert had not defaulted from the semifinals because of a virus.

That Graf prevailed over four different leading opponents - Evert in Australia, Natalya Zvereva in France, Navratilova at Wimbledon and Sabatini here - further honors the teen-ager and her uncomplicated will to win. She kept her pace from season to season, from continent to continent.

Graf also has avoided the injuries and late-adolescent crises that truncated the careers of her predecessors, Tracy Austin and Andrea Jaeger. And her Grand Slam is also a tribute to her maturity and endurance and her family stability as well as her skill. To her credit, she rushed to her father, Peter, and her coach, Pavel Slozil, as soon as her final volley handcuffed Sabatini.

Four major tournaments in one calendar year. It was hard when the travel was by steamship or lumbering propeller planes and it is still hard when millionaire tennis stars take the Concorde.

Going into yesterday, only four other tennis players had ever won the four major tournaments in the same calendar year. Not only that, but next week in Seoul, Graf will go for the first Olympic gold medal in tennis in 64 years.

Forget for a moment whether millionaires with world championships like Wimbledon, Davis Cup and Federation Cup should even be allowed into the Olympics. Graf's advisers had already coined a name for a Grand Slam plus Olympic gold medal: the Golden Grand Slam.

Four in one year. Those have been the conditions for over 50 years - at first a challenge, now a tradition. Don Budge - who told Graf yesterday that she might win the Grand Slam a time or two more - was the first in 1938. Maureen Connolly did it at 18 in 1953. Rod Laver did it twice, in 1962 and 1969. And Margaret Court did it in 1970.

The tradition of the Grand Slam goes back five years earlier when Jack Crawford of Australia was going for his fourth major title in 1933. John Kieran, the sports columnist of The New York Times, wrote, ''If Crawford wins, that would be something like scoring a grand slam on the courts, doubled and vulnerable.''

Crawford faltered at Forest Hills, and a grand slam was forgotten until Budge started winning majors. In July of 1937 he won at Wimbledon. In September of 1937 he won at Forest Hills. In January of 1938 he won in Australia. And in May of 1938 he won in Paris.

At that time, nobody claimed Budge had won a grand slam. But then he won at Wimbledon and in late September he beat his doubles partner, Gene Mako, in the final at Forest Hills.

That was a Grand Slam. People wrote it, people said it, people accepted it, put capital letters on it. Seven other players have won four straight majors over two years, but nobody tried to change the definition of Grand Slam until Martina Navratilova rolled up 74 straight matches in 1983-84, a superb accomplishment all its own.

The genteel amateur poverty of Don Budge and Little Mo Connolly were long gone by then. Martina rode the Concorde back to the States after a crushing fourth-round loss to Kathy Horvath in the 1983 French Open, and then she started winning. The 1983 Wimbledon. The 1983 United States Open. The 1983 Australian, then being played in December. The 1984 French. The 1984 Wimbledon. The 1984 United States Open. Six straight Grand Slam championships. But was it a Grand Slam?

''I am just trying to figure out how you can win six in a row and not win the Grand Slam,'' Navratilova has said. ''I find that pretty amazing.''

She took her cue from assorted sponsors, promoters, publicists and agents in this ever-shifting nouveau-riche world of tennis.

Even the International Tennis Federation, which should have more respect for history, ruled in 1982 that winning any four straight majors constituted a Grand Slam - and offered a $1 million bonus for it. How could Navratilova disagree when the I.T.F. handed her the bucks?

But many tennis people, and most writers, and probably most fans, too, did not accept the new rules, and the I.T.F. has dropped the gimmick.

In December 1984, Navratilova went for the traditional Grand Slam on the grass at historic Kooyong, but was upset by lanky Helena Sukova, the daughter of the late Vera Sukova, who had been Navratilova's coach back in Czechoslovakia. Evert then beat Sukova in the final.

That bitter upset by Sukova only demonstrates how hard it is to complete a Grand Slam. Yet Graf's poise and forehand carried her through yesterday. As hard as it was for Graf to approach a Grand Slam, it is even harder for the men. Competition is so much greater, accentuating the difference between surfaces.

Ivan Lendl has never won on grass at Wimbledon. No Swedish player has ever won in the din of the United States Open. John McEnroe has never won on the red clay at Roland Garros. And some of the top men do not bother to go to Australia.

So much money, so many distractions, so much stress. Four major tournaments in a row is a feat by itself. Six in a row is marvelous. But four in one calendar year is a Grand Slam. Has been for 50 years. Still is.
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Old Sep 11th, 2013, 09:21 PM   #2898
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Virtually Unbeatable: Stefanie Maria Graf
By PETER ALFANO
"New York Times"
September 11, 1988

The promising 14-year-old tennis player had torn the tendons in her thumb, falling on the grass courts during practice, forcing her to withdraw from the Australian Open. Her disappointment, however, was lessened when she received a letter of encouragement from Martina Navratilova, then the No. 1 player in the world. Take your time, Navratrilova wrote. Don't rush your career. Stay in school.

Perhaps Navratilova should also have urged Steffi Graf to go to college, but it only would have delayed the inevitable. Three years after she received that letter, Graf made her first run at the No. 1 ranking. "How much longer will you dominate tennis?" Navratilova was asked.

"It depends on how much better Steffi gets," Navratilova said.

In 1987, Stefanie Maria Graf fulfilled the tennis world's expectations, overtaking Navratilova as the top-ranked player in the game. And yesterday, at 19, the tall, graceful, blond-haired Graf earned a place in tennis history, becoming the first player to win the Grand Slam since Margaret Court of Australia in 1970.

Graf joined a very short list of men and women who have won the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and United States Open in a calendar year. Don Budge was the first in 1938, followed by Maureen Connolly in 1953, Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969, and Court. Graf is not the youngest winner; Connolly was three months younger.

It is an achievement that Graf never even considered plausible at her age. As recently as March 1986, she had not yet won a tournament on the Virginia Slims tour. Now she is virtually unbeatable, having lost only four matches in two years, winning 28 tournaments.

Yet Graf appears unaffected by all she has accomplished in a short time, the acclaim she has received around the world. In West Germany, she is a national hero, her recognition factor almost 100 percent.

Peter Graf, Steffi's father, describes his daughter as a normal teen-ager, interested in movies, books and music. The family's home in Bruehl is the same one they have lived in for most of her childhood. When she is not traveling on the tour, Graf spends time playing with her German shepherd, Max, or listening to music in her room. She enjoys dimming the lights, turning up the sound and dancing in the dark. She is an avid reader, and Ernest Hemingway is among her favorite authors. She does not live a life of luxury, saying, "I really don't feel like I am a millionaire."

But signs of celebrity status are hard to ignore. The Graf home has become a tourist attraction, with strangers scaling the wall or knocking on the front door, wanting to meet Steffi. More often than not, she is on the road.

The worldwide tour can be glamorous, but for a young woman, it can be lonely, too. Last March, when Graf lost two matches to her contemporary Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina, she attributed the losses in part to being away from home too long. She went back to Bruehl for a family reunion with her mother, Heidi, who was once a player, and her younger brother, Michael. "All the family is for Steffi," Peter Graf has said. "When we are all at home, it's the same as Christmas, or more than Christmas."

Peter Graf introduced his daughter to tennis when she was 4 years old, handing her a sawed-off racquet. Now, she rarely puts her racquet down. "My father makes sure I do not play too much," Graf said. "It's tough keeping my hands off a racquet. During my time off, there are three and a half hours a day with nothing to do. After a week, I go crazy." Peter Graf ran a small tennis school, although his daughter soon began playing at a club frequented by Boris Becker, who is from Leimen. "I know him quite well," Graf said. "We used to practice together sometimes."

Graf was still a promising player when Becker stunned the tennis world, winning Wimbledon in 1985. He was only 17. He won again the following year, but has since struggled trying to live up to the expectations of the West German people. Graf can empathize with Becker. Although there is a rivalry between them, she has been subjected to the same kind of scrutiny from her countrymen.

At a tournament in Hamburg earlier this summer, a fan shouted that he wanted his money back because Graf was losing in the second set. "People don't know what they want," she said. "I've learned to ignore it, to think about my own life. I'm playing for me, doing my best." Although she spends time in Boca Raton, Fla., training for a big tournament and to escape the spotlight, she has no plans to leave West Germany. "It is my country," she said. She will represent West Germany in the Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, this month.

She has already achieved more than most players ever dreamed. But Graf said she did not plan to be a shooting star. There is room for improvement, she said, new challenges ahead. Perhaps another Grand Slam.
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Old Sep 12th, 2013, 03:49 PM   #2899
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Steffi Graf moves on from historic Slam to quest for Olympic gold. West German teen-ager appears capable of dominating women's tennis for next decade
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
Monday, September 12, 1988
Jack Longworth, Special to The Christian Science Monitor

What do you do for an encore after you've won the Grand Slam of tennis? If you're Stefanie Maria Graf, you take immediate aim at an Olympic gold medal.

No player has ever won both, let alone in the same season. Graf won the singles four years ago when tennis was revived in the Olympics as a demonstration sport. This time it's official.

"The scheduling is not the best, but I'm excited to go,'' said Steffi the Unstoppable before boarding a plane for her native West Germany, where she plans to relax for all of two days before setting off for South Korea.

"It will be fun being with other young athletes from around the world,'' she said looking forward to the tennis competition in Seoul, which begins a week from Wednesday and concludes with the women's final on Saturday, Oct. 1.

Steffi had changed from her tennis whites into her favorite attire of faded jeans and a t-shirt, had let her ponytail down, and looked every inch the teen-ager she is. At 19 and still improving, she could dominate her sport for the next decade if her enthusiasm holds.

"Don Budge told me he knew all along I would win the Grand Slam - and can do it a couple more times,'' she said after beating fifth-seeded Gabriela Sabatini 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in the US Open finals Saturday afternoon at Flushing Meadow.

Budge won the first Grand Slam 50 years ago at nearby Forest Hills. Like Graf, he beat his doubles partner, Gene Mako, in the final.

Said Graf, "There are no surprises when Gaby and I play. I used a drop shot on big points more than usual, and that worked. She got tired in the third set, and I played better than in the second set.''

Facing Graf at her best is like playing against a supercharged ball machine. It is a testimonial to her talent and determination that she won Saturday while playing less than her finest tennis.

After Sabatini won a tense second set, Graf lifted her game a level and shot out to a 3-0 lead in the last set, breaking Sabatini at love in the second game. Champions have a way of doing that.

"Until then, I was afraid to hit through the ball,'' Graf said. "It was very windy, and I was trying to keep the ball in play instead of going for winners. Toward the end, I was more aggressive.''

The world already knew that Graf had the fiercest forehand and fanciest footwoork in women's tennis. What became much more apparent during the Open is that her stamina also sets her apart. She was energetically hopping, skipping, and jumping from place to place throughout the fortnight.

"I know when a match is staying close that my fitness will help me later,'' she said. "That's an important factor in my success. In the second half of the match, I moved Gaby from side to side and wore her down,''

The 18-year-old Sabatini, the first woman from Argentina to reach a Grand Slam final, is the only player to beat Graf this year. She did it twice last winter, pouring her heavy topspin ground strokes deep into Graf's backhand corner.

Her game plan was the same here. But as she and Graf agree, Steffi gets a stronger glint in her eye for major championships.

Graf is only the fifth player to win a Slam, and the first since Margaret Smith Court in 1970. Says Court, "I like the brisk, straightforward way she plays. She's out there solely to win, and she gets right on with it. I don't see anyone around today who can stay with her.''

Graf, a trim 5 ft. 8 in. and 125 pounds, beat four different opponents around the wold to win the Slam. In Australia, she defeated Chris Evert, 6-1, 7-6. At the French Open she shut out Natalia Zvereva of the Soviet Union, 6-0, 6-0. And at Wimbledon she downed Martina Navratilova, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1.

The change at the top in women's tennis has been sudden but complete. A year ago, Navratilova won three titles here, the singles and both women's and mixed doubles. This year, she left with none.

This was the first US Open since 1974 in which neither Navratilova nor Evert reached the final. Evert defaulted her semifinal match against Graf because of illness. Sabatini beat Zina Garrison in the other semi, after Garrison had knocked out defending champion Navratilova in the quarterfinals.

It was Graf's first US Open victory in five tries. The triumph was worth $275,000 plus a special bracelet with four diamonds, one for each Grand Slam victory.

She is not the youngest woman to win the Slam. The late Maureen Connolly did it at age 18 in 1953. (The other Slam winner in addition to Budge, Court, Connolly, and Graf, and the only one to accomplish the feat twice, was Rod Laver, in 1962 and '69).

Graf, the picture of poise on the court, was barely emotional over her historic accomplishment. Her discipline can be difficult to believe.

"I need time to think about it,'' she said with a modest smile. "It's a nice relief. I'm happy to get it over. There's no more pressure. People kept telling me I couldn't lose here, and that bothered me. It was more of a mental strain than a physical one.

"It was never my goal as a young girl to win the Slam. I haven't read a lot of tennis history. But I know it's very important. It's a special thing - the best you can accomplish.''

Eventually it will mean more to her. In the meantime, she goes on to the Olympics in quest of more if not greater glory.
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Old Sep 12th, 2013, 03:49 PM   #2900
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Graf's slam a mere blip on busy schedule
USA TODAY
Monday, September 12, 1988
Doug Smith

NEW YORK - Steffi Graf never seems to have enough time to enjoy her special moments. She always must prepare for the next tournament.

Even the thrill of being the first player to win the grand slam in 18 years was brief.

She received a bracelet with four diamonds, but she didn't have enough time for an elaborate celebration.

Less than five hours after winning the U.S. Open Saturday, defeating Gabriela Sabatini 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in the final, Graf was on a plane to West Germany and two days rest at home.

"I'm leaving on Tuesday or Wednesday for Korea,'' said Graf. "I'm happy to go there (for the Seoul Olymics), but maybe the timing isn't best, right after the U.S. Open.''

Graf's sweep of the Australian and French opens, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open allowed her to join Don Budge (1938), Maureen Connolly (1953), Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) and Margaret Court (1970) as grand slam winners.

Budge is among those who expect Graf to win another grand slam. Budge and Gordon Jorgensen, president of the United States Tennis Association, presented the U.S. Open trophy to Graf.

"(Budge) said ... he was happy I did it and he thinks I can do it a couple more times,'' said Graf.

But she didn't seem especially proud or aware of the historical significance of her accomplishment.

"Steffi does not know so many things about the history of the game,'' said Graf's father, Peter. "She doesn't look behind. She looks forward.''

Peter Graf called his daughter's achievement "more than wonderful.''

"I'm happy that all the talk about the grand slam is over,'' she said. "That's a nice relief. There's nothing else you can tell me that I have to do.''

Sabatini handed Graf her only two defeats this year, but even she admits to being a step behind Graf.

"There is a big difference between Steffi and the others,'' said Sabatini. "I think I am getting there. We are going to be rivals in the future. I have to work on physical condition and be more tough mentally.''

Graf, who is favored to win a gold medal at the Olympics later this month, is an avid track fan. She is eager to watch hurdler Edwin Moses and sprinter Carl Lewis perform at Seoul.

"What they do is unbelievable,'' said Graf. "If I competed in track, I think I would be best in 800 meters.''

She goes to South Korea leaving no doubt about her abilities on a tennis court. Unquestionably, she had a grand slam of a year. In two weeks, she goes for the gold.
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Old Sep 12th, 2013, 03:51 PM   #2901
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

They can't even let her have one day!

GRAF ALREADY BEING TOUTED FOR ANOTHER GRAND SLAM
The Charlotte Observer
Monday, September 12, 1988
RICK WARNER, Associated Press

It took 18 years for tennis to get another Grand Slam winner. The next wait could be much shorter.

Minutes after Steffi Graf, 19, completed the Slam with a victory over Gabriela Sabatini at the U.S. Open Saturday, some were predicting the West German might sweep the four major tournaments again next year.

"It's a tough assignment, but she's such a good player and she's so strong and determined that it's definitely possible," said CBS commentator Tony Trabert, who won five Grand Slam tournament singles titles in the 1950s.

"I think her biggest potential threat is Wimbledon. Grass is her least favorite surface because she takes such a big swing and because of the bad footing."

Billie Jean King, who won 12 Grand Slam tournament singles titles, also thinks Graf can become the first player to win consecutive Grand Slams.

"She has the determination to be a great champion, the potential to be one of the best ever," King said.

"Steffi beat all the top players in all four tournaments. And she looks like she might be able to do it some more."

King said Graf's feat was more difficult than the first five Slams: Don Budge in 1938, Maureen Connolly in 1953, Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969 and Margaret Court in 1970.

"It's more impressive now because all the best players go to all the Grand Slams," King said.

"When I was playing, you would skip the Australian a lot and not even go to the French all the time. The clay courts were so different for us, and Australia meant going away for three months."

Graf only lost two sets while sweeping the big four tournaments - the first set to Martina Navratilova in the Wimbledon final and the second set to Sabatini at the U.S. Open.

In fact, Navratilova and Sabatini are the only players who have beaten Graf in the past two years.

Graf's record over that period is 135-4. The only losses were to Navratilova in the 1987 Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, and to Sabatini at two Florida tournaments this spring.

But King said she saw Graf's potential greatness when she was 15.

"You could see it back in 1984 at Wimbledon when she was hitting the ball all over the stands, looking like Bambi, and everybody was saying, 'Ugh! She'll never be any good,' " King said.

"But I said, 'Look at her feet. Look at how she moves. She has the feet of a champion.'

"I said, 'Those shots you see going into the stands, in a few years they will be falling inside the line.' "

Budge, 73, is another Graf fan. At the awards ceremony Saturday, he kissed the champion and whispered a private message.

"He said he knew I would do it," Graf said, "and that he thinks I can do it a couple of more times."

Sabatini, who is a year younger than Graf, appears to be the likeliest candidate to halt the Grand Slam streak. Although Sabatini is 2-13 against Graf, only four of the losses have been in straight sets.

"Chris (Evert) and Martina are basically past their primes, and now we've got a changing of the guard," Trabert said. "Graf and Sabatini look like the rivalry of the future."
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Old Sep 12th, 2013, 03:52 PM   #2902
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Not sure whether the crowd was just clueless or unusually rude even by US Open standards, because the applause when they introduced Budge was very tepid. Normally, old timers get a warm response no matter how obscure they are.

I think Sabatini and Lendl were the only active players to offer a verbal pat on the back publicly.

GRAF'S FEAT WAS MEMORABLE, EVEN IF MATCH WASN'T
Philadelphia Daily News
Monday, September 12, 1988
Bill Fleischman, Daily News Sports Writer

To reach Australia on his way to winning the first Grand Slam in tennis 50 years ago, Don Budge spent 23 days on a ship.

After winning her first Grand Slam Saturday, Steff Graf, 19, took a flight home to West Germany. Tomorrow or Wednesday, she will be on another flight, to Seoul, South Korea, for the Olympics, where she is favored to add a Golden Slam to her jewel of a year.

Since Budge became the charter member of the Grand Slam Club, traveling around the world has become easier. Winning the Grand Slam has not.

Graf's 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Argentina's Gabriela Sabatini in the U.S. Open women's singles final admitted Graf to the Grand Slam Club as only the fifth member. The only others to win Wimbledon and the U.S., Australian and French opens in one year are Budge, the late Maureen Connolly (1953), Rod Laver (1962 and '69) and Margaret Court (1970).

Maybe sometime on the flight home, Graf might have glanced around to make sure no one was looking, then slipped on the bracelet the U.S. Tennis Association presented her for winning the "Graf Slam." The bracelet contains four diamonds, one for each Grand Slam tournament.

Despite earning more than $2 million in tennis over the last two years, including $275,000 as the Open champion, Graf is not the flamboyant type. It is almost hard to imagine her dressed up and wearing a diamond bracelet or a diamond ring.

For interviews after her U.S. Open matches, Graf wore T-shirts and jeans. Her idea of a good time on the road is dinner, a movie and bed at 9:30 p.m. At home, she enjoys playing with her German shepherds, listening to music and spending time with her family.

Soon, men will enter her life. But even then, Graf likely will keep tennis as her top priority for a while.

She is a grand champion, a worthy heiress to Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova as the best women's tennis player.

As the sellout crowd at the Open showed, however, Graf is a difficult champion to support. She wins most of her matches too easily.

When Sabatini won the second set, the crowd cheered. Did the people want Graf to fail in her Grand Slam bid? Or were they just hoping for a competitive third set?

Sabatini, the No. 5 seed, who managed the only two victories over Graf this year, could have saved the crowd an anxiety attack by borrowing the chair umpire's microphone and announcing that, after two sets in the ring with "KO Graf," she was too weary to continue her challenge.

For a three-set match that would take its place in history, Graf-Sabatini curiously was not a compelling event. There were few shots that aroused the crowd. If the final set were closer, the match would have been more memorable.

Maybe everyone was anticipating the next match - Andre Agassi's attempt to upset defending champion Ivan Lendl in a men's semifinal - and were just being polite to Graf and Sabatini.

Anyway, Graf won her 34th consecutive match, hugged her family and her coach, Pavel Slozil, then looked forward to some quiet time away from the questioning of the international media.

"I'm happy that all the talk about the Grand Slam is over," she said. ''Now I've done it and there's no more pressure on me.

"There definitely was more mental strain (in the Open). The matches haven't been so tough, only the finals. There were a lot of expectations."

The Open and Wimbledon diamonds on her bracelet will sparkle slightly brighter than those representing the other two Grand Slam tournaments.

"First, Wimbledon, because it was a great thrill the way I won the final," Graf said, referring to her 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 conquest of Navratilova. ''Now this one, going through these tough two weeks."

As Graf's achievement registers, more tributes such as those of Sabatini and Lendl will pour in.

"I think it is great what she did," Sabatini said. "Not too many people can win a Grand Slam."

"My hat is off to her," Lendl said. "I don't care if it's 35-and-over in ladies tennis, or if everybody else was sick. She has done it and that's unbelievable."

After Zina Garrison lost to Sabatini in their semifinal, Garrison was asked if this U.S. Open was the first of many Grand Slam finals between Graf and Sabatini.

"I hope not," Garrison quickly replied. "I'm playing well and I hope I'm in some of those finals."

Garrison, and a few players other than Sabatini, might work their way into some Grand Slam finals. But when their opponent is Steffi Graf, it will be wise to limit their expectations to the runner-up's check.
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Old Sep 12th, 2013, 03:53 PM   #2903
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Steffi Graf doesn't care about numbers and records and fame. Although it is somewhat unfortunate she never had an endorsement deal with Denny's because Steffi Graf does care about pancakes. I will grant that Denny's pancakes from the 1980s were like carbohydrate bombs that went off in your stomach and left you drowsy and useless for a few hours after you ate them, but as an ad campaign this had potential.

Graf's Life Is Grand, But Does She Know It?
September 12, 1988
JIM SARNI
Sun-Sentinel

FLUSHING MEADOW, N.Y. -- Steffi Graf hardly smiled. Graf won the U.S. Open, and with it the Grand Slam, Saturday and celebrated as if it were the Virginia Slims of Coney Island.

No racket tossing. No Borg-like kneeling on the court. No leaping over the net.

The West German took the Grim Slam in Teutonic stride. Everyone said she was going to win it; how could she get excited over anything less?

And she didn't play that well anyway.

After the match, Graf bowed, then took a flight home to West Germany for a short vacation before the Olympics begin next week.

No royal banquet to honor the queen. Graf didn't even stop at Denny's for a Grand Slam breakfast.

"I have the next couple of days to celebrate," Graf said.

The Grand Slam completes the natural progression of a tennis prodigy. Graf turned pro at 13, climbed to No. 1 at 18, and won the four majors at 19.

Now what does she do?

"Steffi doesn't look behind," said her father, Peter Graf. "She always looks forward. She wants to play, in two or three years, her best tennis."

But Graf can never have a better year, especially if she wins the gold medal in Seoul.

Next year she can win the Australian Open, the French Open and the U.S. Open, and people will ask, what happened at Wimbledon?

Graf will have to go four for four or it's a pale imitation of `88. Most players are happy if they win one Grand Slam event a year. For some, one is a career.

"It wasn't easy for me, knowing about the Grand Slam, everybody telling me," Graf said. "It was tough."

And still, she can't relax.

No sooner had she won the Grand Slam than Graf was asked if she could win another one next year.

Graf should skip the Australian Open, and then everyone would shut up.

Fifty years ago, when Don Budge won the first Grand Slam, no one realized what he had done until after he did it.

Budge said his goal was to win the four majors in one year. After Budge won the U.S. Open, Allison Danzig of The New York Times gave it a name.

Budge didn't have to listen to 1,001 questions about the Grand Slam for two weeks at the U.S. Open.

Graf defeated four different Grand Slam finalists.

Athletes grab success when it calls. Graf couldn't say, "wait until I'm older. Let me work up to this."

Maureen Connolly won her Grand Slam at 18, when she didn't know her days were numbered.

The Grand Slam may be a burden for Graf in years to come, but at least she won't be chasing dreams in her 30s.

Graf could quit the sport now and never look back. Or she can point to the future.

There are plenty of records to break and plenty of years in which to break them.

A second Grand Slam, or a third for starters.

Graf can also try to top Margaret Court's all-time Grand Slam record of 26 titles. Graf, who won the French Open in 1987, has five.

Graf can turn to Chris Evert's 156 tournament victories. She has 29. Evert has won 1,256 matches. Graf has won 274. Evert is still counting.

The most intriguing milestone is Martina Navratilova's 74-match winning streak.

Graf could climb this steep mountain. She leaves the U.S. Open with a 34-match streak. Graf won her first 45 matches last year before losing to Navratilova at Wimbledon.

There is glory ahead for Graf. It's just a shame she didn't hug the Grand Slam Saturday and boogaloo down Broadway with it in her arms.
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Old Sep 12th, 2013, 03:54 PM   #2904
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Graf due more golden glory
Houston Chronicle
Monday, SEPTEMBER 12, 1988
United Press International

NEW YORK - Even for a Grand Slam champion, there is yet another challenge, an exciting new goal to tease the imagination.

Steffi Graf seemingly did it all Saturday when she reached for the pinnacle of tennis immortality and became only the third woman to complete the Slam.

When it was over, once she had a chance to grasp the significance of her 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Gabriela Sabatini in the U.S. Open final, Graf declared with an obvious sense of relief: "Now I've done it and there's no pressure on me. There's nothing else you can tell me that I have to do.''

Sorry, Stef, the psychology of sports is never that simple and a working champion can't speak in the past tense. There remains some unfinished business.

After only a day or two of rest at her home in West Germany, Graf will embark on a unique quest this week, with the opportunity to stand alone even among the handful of Grand Slammers. She will be bidding for the Golden Grand Slam by adding the Olympic gold to her four major championships.

By a curiosity of timing, tennis will be a medal sport in the Olympics for the first time since 1924 and Graf, obviously, is the heavy favorite to win a gold medal.

Graf in 1984, as a relatively unknown 15-year-old, won the women's competition at the Los Angeles Games when tennis was a demonstration sport. It was an experience she remembers fondly.

"Definitely it excites me,'' Graf said. "It is a different thing from other tournaments. I was in Los Angeles in 1984 and I had a good experience.

"I'm looking forward to meeting some of the other athletes and to have a good time. I like to talk to them about their experiences and their sport.''

Graf would have preferred a little more time to rest before traveling to Seoul, but she is in excellent physical shape and will be ready.

In winning the Grand Slam, Graf defeated four different rivals in the finals, beating Chris Evert in Australia, Natalia Zvereva in the French, Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon and now Sabatini.

Of the 27 matches she won at the majors, Graf yielded merely two sets, one to Navratilova in the Wimbledon final and one to Sabatini. It is these two championships that stand out most in her mind.

"Wimbledon was a great thrill the way I won the final,'' she said, referring to the fact Navratilova took the first set. "Now this one, going through these tough two weeks. It wasn't easy for me, knowing about the Grand Slam, everybody telling me. It was tough.''

Graf boasts a record this year of 60-2, both losses coming to Sabatini, and she has won 34 matches in a row since the last defeat by Sabatini at Amelia Island, Fla., on April 17.

Except for the rivalries with Sabatini, Navratilova and Evert, most of her matches are runaways, and it is a rare day when Graf is required to remain on court as long as an hour.

Compounding the situation, Graf's game still is improving.

"I'm happy to have this kind of year,'' said Graf, whose earnings for 1988 are just short of $1.3 million. "But the year is not finished yet, there are a couple of more tournaments.''

During the past two years, Graf has compiled an incredible singles record of 135-4, and with Navratilova and Evert likely to be even less effective in 1989, burdened by another year of age, Graf very likely can continue to run rampant.

This, obviously, is not for her to say.

"What comes next year is a different story,'' Graf said.
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Old Sep 12th, 2013, 03:56 PM   #2905
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

This one is ironic on so many different levels. Especially how she scoffs at the idea of a self-respecting adult hanging Andre's shorts on a wall. There are now plenty self-respecting, highly successful adults who would pay big bucks to hang those shorts on a wall.

TEEN-AGE TENNIS STARS MAKE AN AWFUL RACKET
THE ORLANDO SENTINEL
Monday, September 12, 1988
Melissa Isaacson, Sentinel Staff Writer

Teen-agers always have gotten a bum rap. Teen-age tennis players are virtually doomed. Now teens can thank Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi for perpetuating the stereotypes.

Agassi, 18, who needed only to exhibit the slightest hint of humility to walk away with New York in his hip pocket, has blown it here at the U.S. Open the last two weeks.

Asked by an older male reporter why he puts on a show while he's on court, Agassi replied: ''I don't know. Why do you wear brown pants with an orange shirt?''

Charming.

Later he told reporters that he threw a pair of his trademark denim shorts into the crowd because they were worn and frayed. ''I figure someone will want to put them on their wall,'' he explained.

Right, Andre. That's just what any self-respecting adult wants hanging in his home.

After his straight-set quarterfinal victory over Jimmy Connors, Agassi was asked if he thought his victory against the 36-year-old former champion served as a ''rite of passage.'' Looking puzzled, Agassi told the reporter to explain himself.

''Do you feel as if this match was a rite of passage?'' the man repeated, figuring incorrectly that an 18-year-old should understand such a basic concept.

''I asked you to explain it, not repeat it,'' Agassi snapped.

From there he proceeded to tell the world's media that he was ''surprised'' -- after essentially wiping Connors off the court -- that the five-time U.S. Open champion ''had it in him,'' that he had told a buddy beforehand that he predicted an even more thorough beating.

Connors, a former brat himself, took it easy on the young native of Las Vegas, Nev., saying only that Agassi made a ''bad mistake.''

Indeed, Agassi made a mistake. Not so much by what he said, but by what he so desperately is trying to project. A few years ago, when he was still a junior, he had a reputation as a mini-McEnroe.

Since then, it seems, someone has told Agassi that he can make a lot of money by charming the crowd, by playing cute games like bouncing the ball off the line judge's head and applauding his opponents for good shots in the midst of a straight-set clubbing.

The general impression is that Agassi is a phony, something even John McEnroe could not be accused of but something Connors turned into an art form. Whereas McEnroe was a jerk every place, center court or court 16, Connors' opponents faulted him for turning it on only when the television cameras were tuned in.

This is definitely not Steffi Graf's problem. But to be sure, all is not right at the top of the women's game, either.

All this 19-year-old did Saturday was complete the Grand Slam, something that has not been done in 18 years, a feat accomplished by only four other players in history. No small matter, you understand.

Afterward, she acted as if she had just rolled past Dinky van Rensburg in the first round of the Bithlo Classic. Exhibiting all the emotion of someone who just finished taking a geometry test, her 18-year-old opponent, Gabriela Sabatini wasn't much better. Sure, Sabatini could be expected to be disappointed, but this was her doubles partner, accomplishing what Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and a host of champions before her have failed to accomplish, and Sabatini barely shook her hand.

Graf's father, Peter, another charmer, complained afterward that his daughter had not played well, that she had hit too many balls to Sabatini's backhand. ''Backhand, backhand, backhand,'' he cried.

This is the same man who had Steffi out practicing within an hour after her 6-0, 6-0 victory over Natalia Zvereva in the French Open final. Apparently, she had a lot to work on.

That's the essential difference between Agassi and Graf. Whereas Agassi seems to be more or less in control of his image, Graf's is almost entirely reflected by a tyrannical father.

And whereas Agassi's faults probably will serve to enhance his popularity, Graf's personality is only hurting a sport that needs all the life it can get.

In both cases it's unfortunate. In Graf's case it's downright sad. Her comment after winning her first U.S. Open title and fourth major of the year?

''Now I have done it, so there's nothing else you can tell me I have to do.''

Except, maybe, smile once in a while.
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Old Sep 12th, 2013, 03:58 PM   #2906
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

To be that wise and together at 19 years old is something special. I cannot express how inspiring this was to read as a teenager myself back in the day. Here is a frood who really knows where her towel is. Here stands One against Mass-Mindedness.

Hometown Plays Down Graf's Triumph
SERGE SCHMEMANN
New York Times
September 12, 1988

BONN, Sept. 11— ''We have been spoiled by Steffi's success, so it came as no great surprise'' said Gunther Reffert, the mayor of the little West German town of Bruhl, trying to explain why the 14,000 townspeople didn't give a regal welcome to the homecoming queen of tennis, Steffi Graf.

Hours after becoming the first German and third woman to achieve the Grand Slam of tennis by winning the United States Open in New York, Graf flew almost unnoticed into Frankfurt, West Germany, and came home to Bruhl for a brief rest before heading for the Olympic Games. ''I like it this way,'' Graf said. Back in Bruhl, a town which also takes pride in its asparagus, Mayor Reffert confessed there had been no great reaction to Graf's achievement, even though he estimated that more than half the homes were wired for cable and probably stayed up into the wee hours of ''Grand Slam Night.''

But he promised a grand reception, what the Germans call a grosse Bahnhof, or big station, when Graf returns from Seoul, where she will play on the West German Olympic team.

''It would be perfect if she also brought back Olympic gold,'' Reffert said. ''Then we will give her a worthy welcome.''

The reactions at the airport and in Bruhl seemed fairly representative of her countrymen, who have come to take the 19-year-old champion's successes somewhat for granted.

In addition, the purchase of rights to the match by the cable network SAT-1 deprived a majority of West Germans of a way to watch the historic contest. And the timing of the match in the early hours of Sunday enabled only one of the few papers that publish on Sunday to squeeze in the final score.

Still, Chancellor Helmut Kohl and senior politicians from other major parties sent Graf telegrams congratulating her on her victory, and the main state-owned television network aired a special show about Graf's life and career, including an interview with a kindergarten pupil who thought she should marry Boris Becker, also a West German.

It is not that Steffi is unpopular or her countrymen cool to her. But with her remarkable record, and the weekly diet of her matches and interviews on the Sunday sports shows, she is an intimately familiar figure in West Germany, and her Grand Slam victory - she also captured the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon - was never seriously in doubt.

''It was never like Boris,'' said one tennis fan, referring to Becker, who created a sensation in West Germany when he won at Wimbledon in 1985 and 1986. ''Boris came out of nowhere, and Germany went wild. But Steffi has been coming on steadily for some time now, and there was little suspense around the Grand Slam.''

Sometimes it is said, a West German television interviewer asked her, that she was too cool.

''Sometimes I show my happiness differently from others,'' Graf said. ''But I find this natural since I give my full concentration to a difficult match. I am what I am, and each can see me as he will.''
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Old Sep 13th, 2013, 12:42 PM   #2907
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Even though this article was not published today, it flows nicely with the reactions to the Slam.

VIEWS OF SPORT; Let's Keep Our Expectations In Fair Territory
EDWARD TIVNAN
October 9, 1988
New York Times

WHY do our sports heroes disappoint us so? Since Watergate, Vietnam, Gary Hart and Iranscam, it's hard for politicians to surprise and disappoint us with their sins. But when the news breaks that Lawrence Taylor (or Dwight Gooden or Keith Hernandez) is messing with drugs, that Mike Tyson is terrorizing his wife, that Ben Johnson's speed has been boosted illegally, then it's a knife right into our expectations. ''Say it ain't so....'' and then fill in the blank with the name of one of your favorite stars.

Yet why does each revelation still pain us so? Twenty years ago Jim Bouton's best seller ''Ball Four'' only confirmed what we all suspected: his fellow Yankees liked beer and girls; Mickey and Whitey and Billy were really, after all, boys playing a boy's game. Nevertheless, each time a hero slips up, particularly a young hero, we flinch. Why? I think one answer may lie in a remark I saw in a news story after the 19-year-old West German tennis phenom, Steffi Graf, won the fabled Grand Slam - and seemed to show more relief than joy at having made history. (Say it ain't so, Steffi. Surely, this is not ''just another match.'') This is the sentence that caught my eye: ''Steffi's father described his daughter as a normal teenager interested in movies, books and music.''

Normal? This is a teenager who has already won a million dollars in 1988, who has lost only four matches in two years, who has almost 100 percent recognition among her fellow Germans, who has tourists scaling the wall of her family home. This is not a ''normal'' teenager. Working in a fast-food restaurant for spending money and wishing you were good enough to make the high school team - that's normal. Steffi Graf, like Gooden, Tyson, Johnson and every other young sports phenom, is one of nature's miracles. Yet, like Graf's father, we search for traces of normalcy. Trouble is, when we find them we're disappointed.

Our problem as fans (and as journalists) is that we want it both ways. We want our heroes (by definition extraordinary) to be great players and ''ordinary folks'' - friendly, articulate, generous, thrifty, interested in movies, books, and music. This imposed ordinariness (notice that all the normal sins we enjoy are omitted) seems to connect them to us; otherwise they might as well be beings from another planet, which in a sense the greatest professional athletes are.

Another problem we fans (and journalists) have is that we expect our celebrity athletes to be not only great athletes but also great celebrities - poised, articulate, witty, charming. We want Ali and Reggie, Broadway Joe and Tom Terrific. And thus Ivan Lendl is perceived as an automaton, John McEnroe as a brat; Steve Carlton was arrogant, Joe Frazier was a clod; Patrick Ewing is a thug, Ben Johnson is a cheat, Tyson is a punk. Does anyone ever ask why? Maybe these athletes are confused, alone, troubled, scared. Maybe, like most of us, they're just plain dull. Maybe, like the rest of us, they need their heads examined. (How long do Tyson's family, managers and other ''friends'' intend to wait before taking the hand reaching out to them?) But I'm not a team psychologist. I'm at the game to see a bang-bang double play, the 50-yard bomb in flight, the perfect backhand. Surely, I can't expect Lendl to be witty, too, or Tyson to be Cliff Huxtable, M.D. (Though, since my basic presumption is that the game is not rigged, I expect Ben Johnson not to cheat.) As fans, we have to get our eyes back on the ball, and out of the athlete's personal life. Let the Rev. Jimmy Swaggert cast the first stone. We're watching the match to be amazed, we're searching for exploits to get us through the winter, to boast to our grandchildren, ''I was there.''

There's a story about Mickey Mantle, how one day he was nursing a vicious hangover on the bench, happy he had the day off. Suddenly, with the Yankees behind, the team needed a pinch-hitter. Mantle got the nod, he went to the plate, his head still pounding, took a couple of strikes - and then hit one out of the park. With the crowd still on its feet, the Mick stepped into the dugout, and said, ''They'll never know how hard that was.''

And they (we) really don't want to know. Normalcy abounds in my place. To shut off my own problems, I turn on a match, go out to the ball park. From my sports heroes, I expect heroics. And spare me the forced self-analysis of the post-game interview. Being crunched by a 250-pound guard must seem a relief compared to facing a battery of television cameras and reporters asking, ''How does it feel, what do you think?''

''What do I think about all this?'' asked 21-year-old Gregg Jefferies, the Mets' latest miracle worker who two weeks out of the minors was tearing up the majors and living every boy's (every baseball player's) dream. ''I don't even know what's going on, things are happening so fast.'' That's not what the reporters were looking for, but it was an answer which, in my opinion, shows more candor and depth than the question.

Things are just happening too fast. Surely, Gooden and Tyson and Graf would agree. Things may have been happening so fast that poor Ben Johnson might not have noticed that a ''friend'' had slipped him a mickey that could end his career. Having achieved the Grand Slam at 19 (or the heavyweight championship or the Cy Young Award or a world record), how is one expected to respond? Steffi Graf ran to her parents and hugged them. She also might have said what Janet Evans, the 17-year-old Olympic gold medalist swimmer, told a reporter: ''It's weird now. Little kids at meets ask for autographs. I still feel like a little kid myself.''

The trouble with us sports fans is that we, too, are little kids; as fans, we never grow up, don't want to. Yet we have outrageous expectations for our heroes. But how much can we expect of kids? Even millionaire kids? An athlete may be born with speed, strength, and charm, but he brings to the locker room values, willpower, maturity created at home, in school, on the streets. (That pro football teams expressed an interest in signing Johnson is proof enough of the low value placed on values in sports.) Yes, we need idols. But we must not require our idols to be any more virtuous than we are. That our geniuses must be saints, too, is too much to ask - of Dwight Gooden as well as Picasso. Just watch the game. Marvel at their exploits. Revel in the heaven of the perfect bodies, the perfect moves. Ty Cobb, they say, was not a very nice man. But what a ballplayer!

Edward Tivnan is a magazine and television writer who lives in New York.
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Old Sep 13th, 2013, 12:47 PM   #2908
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Possibly a repost, but worth reviewing here. On the September 7th entry, I think Steffi has misunderstood "choking" for "tanking." I can imagine Jaden and Jaz asking, "Mom, what was it like winning the US Open for the Grand Slam?" and Steffi replying, "Well, I watched a lot of movies..."

On Her Own Time
November 1988
"World Tennis"
Cindy Shmerler

Wednesday, August 31

Steffi Graf climbs the stairs from the catacombs of the stadium court at the USTA National Tennis Center onto the main walkway that leads outside to the indoor courts housing the player locker rooms. Fresh from a 6-1, 6-1 opening-round victory over Elizabeth Minter, she walks briskly through the bright sunshine, tries to pretend she is not being noticed by every spectator she passes, and ponders whether the public expects perfection from her on every shot she hits. "Sure, they expect me never to miss the ball," she explains as she walks. "That's more fun for them. The problem, though, is that it's more fun for me too; sometimes I expect it as well."

This is Graf's first day at the tennis center since the tournament began. Rain forced cancellation of play on opening day and since Graf was scheduled to play Tuesday, her opening-round match was postponed. She's been staying in Saddle River, New Jersey, at the private home of the Kiss family, whom the Grafs met while Steffi was playing a U.S. Open warm-up tournament in Mahwah two years ago.

"I didn't even want to be here before," she says, explaining why she and her family enjoy being shielded from the inevitable media and fan blitz surrounding her Grand Slam bid. Instead, she shops, watches movies, plays pinball and spends time in her room, sometimes turning the radio up loud, the lights down low, and dancing by herself. "I feel good," she says, disappearing into the locker room for a shower. "I'm ready for this."

Thursday, September 1

Graf beats Manon Bollegraf of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-0 but says she didn't play well. The grandstand court is a little faster than the stadium, she remarks, and her timing was off, forcing her to hit late and spray some forehands long. She is also slightly grumpy at the press conference and seems annoyed every time the Grand Slam question is raised. Skipping out of the interview room quickly, she heads for her first doubles match with partner Gabriela Sabatini.

Saturday, September 3

Standing at the entrance to the stadium court, Steffi spends almost as much time signing autographs as she does on court against France's Nathalie Herreman. This is nothing compared with West Germany, she says, where hours still won't satisfy all the requests. Herreman, who has played on center court at Stade Roland Garros in Paris, admits to being "a little bit afraid" of Graf; against Steffi, "you always start a little bit behind," just because of who she is and what she's going for.

Graf is asked if she is bored with such easy matches. "You can't get too excited about playing 6-1, 6-0 and 6-0, 6-1," she says. "It's hard, but I know the matches will get tougher." By now the Graf family has moved into a New York City hotel. Father Peter Graf doesn't want his daughter too relaxed in New Jersey; now that his wife and son have arrived from Bruhl, West Germany, they opt for Manhattan's hustle, and a more pressurized existence. But Steffi is still calm. Yesterday she saw a concert at Madison Square Garden, featuring Keith Sweat and Earth, Wind and Fire. In the afternoon, she and coach Pavel Slozil saw the movie "Betrayed." "Very interesting, but pretty unbelievable," Steffi says. Slozil is asked if Graf is recognized as she enters movie theaters in midtown Manhattan, where anonymity is a God-given right. "Sometimes people recognize her," he says, "but usually we walk so fast that they don't have the chance to do anything. It's not as bad as in Germany, but we can often hear somebody behind saying, 'That was Steffi Graf,' and their friend saying, 'Oh, no it wasn't.' "

Monday, September 5

While Steffi prepares to play Patty Fendick, an upset winner over No. 15 seed Sylvia Hanika, Peter Graf does some talking. Graf is dissatisfied with a computer change the Women's International Tennis Association has adopted that would alter the number of points awarded to tournament winners, thereby cutting Steffi's lead and allowing No. 2 Martina Navratilova to come within striking distance. Unless the rule is changed back, says Papa Graf, Steffi will not sign her commitment for next year. Steffi says she won't discuss the matter until after the tournament.

On the grandstand court against Fendick, a former two-time NCAA singles champion from Stanford, Steffi has her hands full. Despite trailing 3-0 in both sets, Fendick keeps serving and volleying, ultimately breaking Graf and serving to tie the first set at 5-5. Though Fendick loses her serve, the first set takes 48 minutes, longer than any of Graf's previous matches.

"The impression everyone has," says Fendick, after she's fallen 6-4, 6-2, "is that when you're playing somebody like Steffi Graf, there's absolutely no pressure on you. But I think it's quite the contrary. The first thing is you don't want to be humiliated so you want to get on the scoreboard as fast as you can. And the second thing is hopefully to settle into your game.

"I was just looking to have fun," continues Fendick. "It's a spectator sport and the fans should enjoy it, especially on a show court like this. I'm an entertainer and I was having fun. I don't think Steffi was, though. She doesn't look like she's ever having fun, and that's a shame. Maybe that's why she's No. 1 and I'm not."

Wednesday, September 7

Graf crushes Katerina Maleeva (who earlier upset No. 7 Helena Sukova) on the stadium court, tossing her out like an old tennis ball. But tension - and potential upsets - abounds on the grandstand. In the day's first match, Larisa Savchenko tries to become the first Soviet woman to reach the semifinals of the U.S.Open as she serves for 5-3, ahead a set, against Gabriela Sabatini. But Savchenko chokes, double faults her serve away, and never recovers, as Sabatini escapes 4-6, 6-4, 6-1. Later, Chris Evert comes back from a set down against sixth-seeded Manuela Maleeva, 3-6,6-4, 6-2.

Although no one would accuse her of doing so lately, Graf is asked if she can ever remember choking in a match, even back in the juniors. "No," she says quickly. "When I'm in a match, I'm trying to do my best and not give up until it's over. Even if I'm playing bad, I'm still trying. The thing about me is that everybody always knew that even when they were ahead, they never knew if they would win because I'm always sticking in there." Steffi makes no mention of her 1986 French Open quarterfinal with Hana Mandlikova when she led a set and 5-4, with a match point, only to lose 6-1 in the third.

The biggest news of the day, however, is Zina Garrison's stunning upset of Navratilova. Despite saving four match points and rallying from 0-5 to win the second set, Navratilova. cannot hold off Garrison's charge and goes down 6-4, 6-7, 7-5. It is the first time since 1982 that Navratilova has not reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open, and she is disconsolate, walking with head bowed from the locker room to the interview room afterwards as though she were attending her own funeral.

Friday, September 9

The quiet buzz begins in the press box long before the 11 A.M. scheduled start of the women's semifinals. "Chris Evert is sick and may not play," is the word. Food poisoning, some murmur; others say the flu.

Husband Andy Mill answers the phone at their hotel suite. "We've got big problems," he admits, now reporting Evert's illness as gastroenteritis, a stomach disorder she first noticed during her doubles match following her singles quarterfinal two days earlier. "Then she was having a massage," explains Mill, "and she got really light-headed and said she had to go home. I was out playing tennis with John Oates [of the rock group Hall and Oates] and Chrissie came and found me. She said, 'Oh, I feel awful,' and the next thing I know she's throwing up all over the living room."

Graf learns of Evert's default via television, just as she's preparing to leave the hotel for Flushing Meadows. "I couldn't believe it," she says. "In a way it's bad because I really needed to play her. She makes me hit a lot of balls and would have really tested me." Instead, Graf spends the day practicing extra hard with Slozil and sees two movies. But she leaves "Deceivers" after seven minutes, unhappy with its plot, and goes around the corner to watch the Tom Hanks comedy, "Big." Meanwhile, doubles partner Sabatini beats Zina Garrison 6-4, 7-5, setting the stage for a classic final - Steffi against the only player to beat her all year.

Saturday, September 1

Even Graf admits: "Today is one of the biggest days of my life." Steffi is in a good mood, posing politely for obligatory pre-match photos with Sabatini, but inside she is thinking about the past.

Both players are tight throughout, and the match is not particularly well played. Gusty winds force groundstrokes outside the lines and neither player is bold enough to take too many chances. Even when Graf loses the second set, rebounds in the third, and clinches the coveted Slam with a backhand pass at Sabatini, she is controlled, unable to loosen up and enjoy her accomplishment. She pumps her fist ever so slightly, shakes Sabatini's hand, and retreats to a chair to put on her jacket. But then she trots across the court to embrace her family, particularly her father, whom she says has sacrificed everything to attain this goal.

After the final, Graf is presented with a gold bracelet with four diamonds, one for each of her Grand Slam triumphs, and greets Don Budge, who completed the sport's first Slam 50 years ago. She inadvertently drops the bracelet on the ground as she leaves the stadium, recovers it, and heads to the locker room to shower and change for yet another post-match press conference. But there is little time for celebrating. The Graf family is on an 8:30 P.M. flight to West Germany that won't land until early the next morning. There she can relax for two days before heading to Seoul, South Korea, where Steffi will compete for her country. Before leaving, as she climbs the stadium stairs one final time, Graf suddenly turns back and hands a huge bouquet of flowers to a ball girl who has worked many of her matches during the tournament. The ball girl looks stunned, then appreciative, and humbly thanks the newest Grand Slam champion.
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Old Sep 13th, 2013, 12:53 PM   #2909
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Underscoring that, for some reason, that year's US Open crowds were unusually poorly behaved.

Dramatic Switch At Top of Tennis
ROBIN FINN
September 13, 1988
New York Times

The United States Open lived up to its reputation as the most cutthroat tournament within the most inhospitable facility in the genteel world of tennis. There were surprises, but most of them proved unpleasant, like the unseemly pair of brawls that broke out in the stands during the one event that ought to have riveted the New York crowd, the men's final.

Ivan Lendl, who had won the Open for the last three years and been a fixture in the men's final for seven, walked away from Flushing Meadows stripped not only of his title, but of his status as the world's top player. If he had been a prizefighter, he would have been beltless, so thoroughly did this tournament change his appearance.

But acclimatized American that he has become, Lendl attempted to take his massive loss in stride. ''There's no use in crying over spilled milk,'' he insisted, his face still flushed from his futile five-set marathon against Mats Wilander of Sweden.

''If he wins today, it would have been one of the greatest efforts of all time,'' Wilander said of Lendl's struggle to remain king of the tennis mountain. Instead, Wilander captured his third Grand Slam event of the year, which he called a ''breakthrough'' event for him. He also won the Australian Open and the French Open.

He was not, however, inclined to predict the longevity of his reign as the top male player after demoting the man who had been in place there for the last three years. ''I think it's always good when the number one player changes,'' he said. ''Otherwise you see the same guys winning all the time.''

Lendl Vows to Return

In Wilander, the Open yielded an unlikely hero with an unstormy temperament, and it will be interesting to see if he has the drive to stay on top.

Lendl vowed to return next year and attempt to take the same sort of command exercised by Wilander this season. He admitted he was planning to use Wilander's recovery from a poor campaign in 1986 as his inspiration for a 1989 renaissance.

He was far from at his best against Wilander, and will certainly pose a threat should he return to form next year. And Wilander will face plenty of other challengers as well.

Andre Agassi, the most telegenic one and the next great hope of United States tennis, distinguished himself all the way through the Open draw until, as the youngest male player ever to reach the semifinal, he fell prey to Lendl's expertise.

The 18-year-old Agassi, a tennis-playing entertainer from Las Vegas, Nev., who is a promoter's dream and a couturier's nightmare, eliminated Jimmy Connors, the Open's renaissance man. But just when it seemed that new had triumphed over old, Lendl taught Agassi a lesson, then went so far as to suggest Agassi had given away two sets of their match because he couldn't handle adversity.

Proof of Graf's Dominance

The Open merely reinforced a changing of the guard on the women's side of the game, a change that includes concession on the part of Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. Steffi Graf, the first player to earn the Grand Slam since Margaret Court did it in 1970, has become so dominant that the outcome of any event she enters is all but academic.

''Everything came automatically,'' the 19-year-old West German said of her tennis education, and the swiftness of her success is probably why many are not ready to embrace her, despite her clear achievement.

Graf and 18-year-old Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina, the loser in the women's final, are clearly in control of women's tennis, and will probably maintain control for a while.

Evert, who pondered the wisdom of making a grand exit from tennis if she won this Open, was forced by illness to default from her semifinal match against Graf.

Navratilova, who hasn't accepted the logic of her career being on the descent, never made it to the semifinals. Indeed, she and her doubles partner, Pam Shriver, another veteran who suffered an early singles defeat, didn't advance to the final of the women's doubles.

Winning that title, said Shriver, might have made this Open bearable. Without it, they, like Lendl, went home with their professional dignity less than intact.
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Old Sep 15th, 2013, 01:06 PM   #2910
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

This might have been a little more physically violent between the police and the reporters and bystanders, judging from a snippet from tomorrow's article. At any rate, I'm sure a jet-lagged Steffi is probably wondering when the world will recover its sanity.

Steffi Graf, Riding Grand Slam Crest, Mobbed in Seoul
September 15, 1988
Associated Press
Los Angeles Times

SEOUL, South Korea — Tennis Grand Slam winner Steffi Graf arrived for the Olympics today and caused a near-riot at Kimpo Airport.

Though protected by a wall of Korean security officials, the 19-year-old West German was hustled and jostled as she tried to follow her teammates to a waiting bus outside. Roped barriers, hastily erected to clear Graf's path, were knocked down by reporters and photographers, tripping several people.

Graf was shaken but unhurt.

"I've never had a reception like this anywhere before," said Graf, who won the Grand Slam by winning the U.S. Open last weekend, the first woman to win all four major tennis titles since 1970.

"At the moment, I feel a bit tired. Now, having this," she said, wiping her eyes. "I'm very excited but it's a little frightening. I hope it's not going to be like this all the time."
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