Stefanie Maria Graf is one of the most famous tennis players and not only in the German world. Steffi can look back at 107 tournament victories, twenty-two of which were Grand Slam titles. The German who was born on 14th of June 1969 in Mannheim, Germany is part of numerous record lists. She was the youngest player listed in the world rankings at just 13 years. Graf led the world rankings as number one for 377 weeks. In the finals of the French Open in 1988, she defeated Natalia Zvereva in just 32 minutes. That is the fastest victory in a Grand Slam finale to date.
Graf started getting noticed by the wider tennis world with her winning of the French Open finals in 1987. She was only 17 years old at that time. The following year she won all the Grand Slam titles, and she also completed the Golden Slam by winning the Olympic gold. 1989 was a big year for the German tennis fans when Steffi Graf and Boris Becker both won Wimbledon. Olympic silver and five victories at the WTA Masters followed.
Steffi’s match competitors included Martina Navratilova, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Jana Novotna and Gabriela Sabatini. Early in her career, she competed with Martina for the top of the world ranking list. Almost throughout her entire career, Graf had to play against Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Jana Novotna and Gabriela Sabatini. But only Gabriela found a way to beat Steffi on some occasions. At the beginning of the 90s, Monica Seles entered professional tennis. Monica was a severe opponent for Steffi until the brutal stabbing in 1993 in Hamburg. Following that incident, Monica paused her career.
But Steffi Graf was also defeated a few times, even though this happened only three times out of almost 80 games in her best years, 1987 to 1989. Graf’s defeat in the final of the 1990 French Open against Monica Seles was the beginning for an ongoing rival until Monica took a break from her professional tennis career. In 1991 she lost to Jana Novotna in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and missed her fourth consecutive tournament win in Australia. In Wimbledon 1999, the last Grand Slam final of her career, she lost to Lindsay Davenport.
Away from the tennis court and prize money, Steffi knew how to earn big money. In the 90’s she was an icon in the world of advertisement. In addition to numerous advertising contracts, she launched her own fashion collection and founded a sports marketing company.
Steffi has even today still some significant advertising contracts, and she owns a stake in a fitness chain for women. Graf is also highly committed to her “Children for Tomorrow” foundation, which provides help for traumatised children.
Steffi Graf keeps her private life out of the public eye. She has been married to Andre Agassi since 2001. Together with the eight-time Grand Slam winner, she has an 18-year-old son Jaden Gil and a 16-year-old daughter Jaz Elle. They live all together in Las Vegas.
Steffi’s father, who passed away in 2013, played a significant role in her career. Peter Graf coached Steffi from the age of three and led her to the top of the world. In 1995 Steffi Graf and her father Peter were targeted by the tax investigation department. Peter Graf had concealed about 42 million D-Marks of his daughter’s entry fees and prize money from the German tax authorities. The accusations against Steffi were dropped early, as she could prove that she was unaware of the tax evasion. In 1997 he was sentenced to three years and nine months imprisonment.