Steffi Graf is celebrating 25 years since her Golden Slam win
2013 marks a quarter of a century since tennis star Steffi Graf became the third woman in the history of professional tennis to win the Calendar Year Grand Slam. In order to achieve this “Golden Slam”, Graf won the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and U.S.Open; she also added another achievement, which led to the coinage, “Golden” by winning the Olympic gold meal in Seoul within the same year. For the then nineteen-year old Graf, she had unwittingly made history by doing something, which came naturally to her; winning matches. 25 years ahead, her feat remains unchallenged, even by today’s league of talented players. Graf systematically won her way through to the Golden Slam feat in 1988 by beginning with a victory over Chris Everett during the Australian Open finals where she never lost a set. She beat Everett 6-1, 7-6 in the finals, thus paving the way for future victories. She then went on to beat Natasha Zvereva in the finals of the French Open; she beat her within a record 32 minutes with straight set wins of 6-0, 6-0. If fans were disappointed in the lack of a showdown between her and fellow champion, Martina Navratilova, they would not be disappointed during the following Wimbledon championships. What was once known as Navratilova’s victory ground (given that she had won the previous 6 women’s titles there) became Graf’s venue of victory as she defeated Navratilova 5-7, 6-2, and 6-1. While the world certainly felt bad for Navratilova, it is famously stated “a torch had been passed” from her to Graf, who went on to win her next championship, this time at the U.S. Open where she defeated Gabriella Sabatini in three sets. To add the proverbial “cherry on top” of her quadruple victory, she beat Sabatini during the Olympic games once again and achieved her Olympic gold medal. To call her victories a fluke would be foolhardy, as Graf is known for her winning streaks and unwavering determination during her extensive 17 year long career. After a series of losses, she chose to rely on her strengths and speed to overcome some of her biggest rivals, and succeeded at dethroning reigning champion, Navratilova, who had previously beaten her. After finally beating Navratilova in the semi-finals of the 1987 Miami tournament, then 17-year old Graf gained the confidence to win tournaments and steadily climbed the tennis rankings. What makes Steffi Graf stand a class apart from the league of champions, past and present, is her humility and determination. Her practical senses have allowed her to reflect on her gaming weaknesses, and she has learnt from them, as evidenced by her numerous, unbeaten winning streaks. She executed her shots with precision and attention to her inside-out forehand drive, and accurate slice shots. She is known for being one of the fastest women in the game, and had one of the most powerful serves of 180 km/ph. This apart, Steffi Graf remains a champion despite having retired from the game in 1999. She is both an achiever, and an inspiration.