Learning from Steffi Graf's discipline and attitude
Steffi Graf has been quoted saying - "You can have a certain arrogance, and I think that's fine, but what you should never lose is the respect for the others", and this is a mantra she followed through with through out her illustrious career. She is hailed even in the present day as being one of the most talented tennis players in the world, despite having retired from professional tennis in 1999. Steffi Graf is a multiple record holder, Olympic gold medal winner, and the only recipient of the Golden Slam title [awarded upon winning 4 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments]. She is versatile on both grass as well as clay surfaces, and her powerful inside-out forehand drive is her trademark move. Behind her successes lie some valuable life lessons and strategies which have contributed in many ways towards shaping her personality and have encouraged her desire for excellence and victory. Born in 1969, Steffi held her first racket at age 3. Following her father Peter’s wish that she take the sport seriously, she began training with him from a tender age, realizing by age 13 that she possessed a knack for the game. Her parents were supportive and ensured that she had enough time to prioritize her game. Regular school going was replaced with a tutor who helped her graduate from high school, after which she decided not to pursue college. Under the watchful eye of her father and coach Pavel Slozil, she adhered to a strict routine, and began winning junior tournaments. One of her first victories was winning the European Championship 12s in 1982. From an early age, Steffi chose to focus on her sport entirely, and placed faith in her father, whose ardent wish was to see his daughter as a tennis champion. Her life, therefore, revolved around a strict schedule which involved a minimum of 4 hours of tennis practice daily, very restricted socializing, and little time for miscellaneous activities. The team work and collaboration between father, daughter, and coach shaped Steffi’s playing style and set the base for the development of her confident playing style. At a time when players such as John McEnroe were infamous for their on-court tantrums and constant shows of temper during matches, Steffi steered clear from unprofessional behavior, and was known for her quiet, genial attitude. The only time she displayed aggression was in her game, which won her a total of 22 Grand Slam titles and a total of 107 victories in her career. Trained from an early age to maintain a low profile and reserve her focus for the game, Graf is still considered as being a role model for other professional sports-persons, and is jokingly said to channel her aggression into one thing; her tennis serve, which reaches up to speeds of 180 km/ph - arguably one of the fastest serves in women’s tennis history! Steffi Graf is one of the most inspiring sportswomen in history, and her disciplined approach to the game, trust in her team, and faith in herself have all served to make her an unbeaten champion of the game, as well as a thorough professional.