Few will ever have the privilege to say that they truly the best at something. Professional tennis player and Sports Speaker Steffi Graf has enjoyed the privilege for years. After playing in her first tournament as a five year old, Graf turned pro at the young age of 12, and started from the bottom as no. 124 in the world. Three years later Graf was no. 6 in the world, before she could even drive. With her father, Peter, as coach, Graf would regularly train for up to four hours each day. Peter limited the amount of tennis she played competitively so she would not burn herself out.
Her play steadily improved, culminating in 1987, which would be a break out year for the young star. After winning six tournaments prior, Graf defeated then ranked no.1 Navratilova to win the French open. The next year would be the most dominant year ever for a single women’s tennis player. That year Graf won all four major titles, as well as the coveted Olympic gold, giving her the title of “Calendar Year Golden Slam”. After achieving the no.1 ranking Graf continued to dominate the women’s tennis scene. In fact, fellow pro Martina Navratilova would say of the top eight in the world that it was like “Steffi and the seven dwarfs”.
After various minor injuries and a bout of rubella, Sports Speaker Steffi Graf spent two years out of the limelight before returning in 1993 to again rule. She would retire from the tour in 1999 after winning the French Open for the final time. Over the course of her career, she won seven titles at Wimbledon, six titles at the French Open, five titles at the US Open, and four titles at the Australian Open. She won a total of 22 grand slam titles. She held the no.1 ranking for 186 weeks, a record that still stands. Graf founded the “Children for Tomorrow” organization, which provides aid and supports children who have been traumatized by war.