The Tennis Greats: Steffi Graf
Although it would be hard in the extreme to make a case for anyone to surpass Martina Navratilova in terms of overall achievement she has been surpassed in terms of achievement in the women’s singles game – by Germany’s Steffi Graf, who won 22 singles Grand Slam titles over the course of a storied career in the game that spanned seventeen years from the age of 13 to 30. Graf is, in addition, the only professional player ever – male or female – to have won a Calendar Grand Slam over the three notable surfaces.
What is even more impressive about the latter achievement is the fact that it was as part of the even rarer “Golden Grand Slam” which comprises of winning all four of the Grand Slam events and the gold medal in the tennis event at the Olympic games. Although tennis has only been a full medal sport at the Olympics since 1988, in the five Olympic years since then her achievement has never been matched, or even approached, by another player.
Graf’s achievement in 1988 is testament to the versatility of the game she played. Not bound to any one style of play, she had few weaknesses in her game and is the only player to have been considered as even an approximate rival to Martina Navratilova, who she overcame on various occasions in finals of tour events and majors. Graf retired from tennis in 1999, and has since got married to former men’s Number One seed Andre Agassi.