Real name: Stefanie Maria Graf
Birthdate: June 14, 1969
Partner: Andre Agassi
Stefanie Maria Graf (born June 14, 1969, in Mannheim, West Germany) is a former World No. 1 ranked female tennis player from Germany. Graf is widely considered to be one of the greatest female tennis players in history. Graf won 22 Grand Slam singles titles, second among male and female players only to Margaret Smith Court's 24. She also won 107 singles titles, which ranks her third on the list of most singles titles won during the open era, behind Martina Navratilova (167 titles) and Chris Evert (154 titles). In December 1999, Graf was named the greatest female tennis player of the 20th century by a panel of experts assembled by The Associated Press. Tennis writer Steve Flink, in his book The Greatest Tennis Matches of the Twentieth Century, named her as the best female player of the 20th century.
She was ranked the Women's Tennis Association's No. 1 player for a record 377 total weeks - the longest of any player, male or female, since rankings began – and is the only player to have won all four Grand Slam singles tournaments (Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the French Open and the Australian Open) at least four times each. Graf also holds the record (eight) for most years as year end number one.
Graf played in her first professional tournament in October 1982 at Stuttgart, Germany. She lost her first round match 6-4, 6-0 to Tracy Austin, a two-time U.S. Open champion and former World No. 1 player. Austin remarked of the then-thirteen year old Graf that "there are hundreds of girls like her in America." Twelve years later, Graf defeated Austin 6-0, 6-0 during a second round match in Indian Wells, California, which was their second and last match against each other.
A mixture of injury problems, personal difficulties, and loss of form made 1991 a tough year for Graf. Seles established herself as the new dominant player on the women's tour, winning the Australian Open, French Open, and U.S. Open, and ending Graf's reign as World No. 1 in March. Seles did not play at Wimbledon, where Graf won her only Grand Slam final of the year.
In 1993, Seles beat Graf in three sets in the final of the Australian Open. The burgeoning rivalry between them was then cut short. During a quarterfinal match between Seles and Magdalena Maleeva in Hamburg, Seles was stabbed between the shoulder blades by a mentally ill Günter Parche. He claimed that he committed the attack to help Graf reclaim the number one ranking. Almost two years elapsed before Seles competed again.
During her career, Graf won 107 singles titles and 11 doubles titles. Her 22 Grand Slam singles titles are second only to Margaret Court, who won 24 (11 open era). Graf won 7 singles titles at Wimbledon, 6 singles titles at the French Open, 5 singles titles at the U.S. Open, and 4 singles titles at the Australian Open. She is the only person to have won at least four singles titles at each Grand Slam event. Her overall record in 56 Grand Slam events was 282-34 (89 percent) (87-10 at the French Open, 75-8 at Wimbledon, 73-10 at the US Open, and 47-6 at the Australian Open). Her career prize-money earnings totalled U.S. $21,895,277. Her singles win-loss record was 902-115 (89 percent). She was ranked No. 1 for 377 weeks (non-consecutive; overall record), including a record 186 consecutive weeks (from August 1987-March 1991) – the latter record was only recently surpassed by Roger Federer, and is still the outstanding record in the women's game.