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Steffi Graf
Steffi Graf

Born: Bruhl, Germany, June 14, 1969

Wimbledon titles: 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996

Runner-up: 1987, 1999

Grand Slam titles: 22

Career prize money: $21,895,277

Graf could claim to be the greatest female player ever. She won 22 Grand Slam titles in all, including seven at Wimbledon. Only Margaret Court has more, with 24, but 11 of hers came in Australia, where few northern hemisphere players ventured in the 1960s.

She first reached the top of the world rankings in 1987 and was only eclipsed 10 years later after 374 weeks as number one, well ahead of Martina Navratilova’s 331.

She became the second woman in the history of Open tennis to win the Grand Slam of all four majors, in 1988, a year she also added the Olympic title to the list. She was also the youngest to ever do it, at 19. She is the only player ever to have won each of the majors at least four times.

Known as “Fraulein Forehand”, Graf could hit that shot like a hammer. Her sliced backhand was also the best in the game. Added to a powerful and accurate serve and a determination to win that put everyone else to shame, she had a lot going for her.

For 10 years she dominated women’s tennis, but there were also huge pressures on her. She had surgery four times and it was persistent problems with her knees that eventually forced her out of the game at the age of 30, having recently reached the Wimbledon final for the first time in three years.

Her father was a controversial figure and was eventually sent to prison for tax fraud, costing her $20m in reparation.

When Monica Seles was stabbed in Hamburg in 1993, attacker Gunther Parche said he had done so she would no longer be a rival to Graf.

It’s a testament to her strength of character that she managed to carry herself with such dignity throughout those tough years.

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