Affectionately known as Fraulein Forehand, Steffi Maria Graf was born June 14 1969 in Bruhl, Germany. Her parents are Heidi and Peter Graf. She also has a brother, Micheal, who is two years younger than her. Michael is now a race car driver, married with two kids.
Graf was three years old when her father placed a heavy wooden racquet in her small hands. At 12 years old she was the first German to win the Orange Bowl. She turned pro on October 18, 1982 at age 13 and that same year, she became the second youngest player ever ranked in the WTA Tour, ranking 124th. © image
At just 16 years old and before earning her first tournament victory, Graf was ranked third in the world behind Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. On August 17, 1987 she became number 1 and held the rank for 186 weeks until October 3, 1991. This record has never been surpassed by any player, male or female. In 1989 she became the youngest player to pass the $1 million mark in earnings. She is the only player, male or female, to have won a Golden Grand Slam - winning four Grand slam titles (The Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open) plus the Olympic Gold Medal (Seoul) in the same calendar year, 1988. She is credited with being able to dominate on all surfaces (clay, hardcourt, grass, and synthetic) and in 1997 she became the highest-earning female of all time.
Throughout her successful career Graf has faced many hardships. Her father was imprisoned for tax fraud. This costed her $20 million in reparation (almost as much as she’s ever won in prize money). He was sentenced in 1997 to three years and nine months in prison for evading taxes on 6.55 million dollars of his daughter’s tennis earnings. He was released in April 1998 after serving more than half his sentence. © image
In addition, Peter Graf was a source of embarrassment with a highly publicised extra-marital affair with a twenty-some year old girl. In addition, Graf has suffered from several health problems including allergies, sinusitis, and foot, wrist, knee and chronic back injuries. She has had to undergo knee surgery four times. Perhaps most traumatically, Graf’s strongest source of competition in the 90's Monica Seles, was stabbed by a deranged Graf fan during a tournament in 1993 in Hamburg. This tragedy interrupted her career for two years.
There has been a lot of good too. Graf had a long time relationship with race car driver Michael Bartels. She married Andre Agassi on October 22, 2001 and their first child, Jaden Gil was born on October 26, 2001. Their second child, a daughter named Jaz, was born on October 3, 2003 in Las Vegas. Since 1984 Graf has been an ambassador for the WWF. She is now creating her own fashion label with a line of handbags. She is the founder and chair person for Children for Tomorrow, a foundation founded in 1998 that seeks to increase the medical aid available for mentally and emotionally traumatised children.
Her original coach was Pavel Slozil from 1986 to 1991, and then Heinz Günthardt from then until retirement. She retired on August 13,1999 with 118 titles under her belt and having been named WTA player of the year eight times. Graf described her feelings before retiring by saying that “after Wimbelton, for the first time in my career, I didn’t feel like going to a tournament. I went to San Diego just to make sure and I felt it right away. It is time to stop.” At the time of retirement she was ranked third in singles titles, 3rd in wins, 2nd in winning percentage, 2nd in grand slams, and first in prize money.
Official Steffi Graf site
Graf site with lots of pictures and video clips
Archives about Graf
Insightful and heartfelt description of her life