Stephanie Maria Graf was born on June 14, 1969 in Bruehl, Germany to Peter and Heidi. She has one brother named Michael.
Steffi first started playing tennis as a three-year-old with a wooden racket that had a shortened grip. Realizing that his daughter had talent, Peter gave up his job as a second-hand car dealer in 1977 and concentrated on Steffi’s tennis career. She did not disappoint him when she won the prestigious Orange Bowl tournament in 1981, but it wasn't until she was thirteen years old, on October 18, 1982, that she turned pro. In 1982, Steffi was the second youngest player ever to be ranked on the WTA Tour, ranking 124th. In 1985, she broke into the top ten, entering the US Open semifinals and taking the third place in women’s rankings behind Evert and Navratilova.
Steffi won her first major title at Hilton Head, beating Evert in 1986. She then broke a toe and went out of the game for a while. In 1987, she won her first Grand Slam, beating Martina Navratilova in the final. In August that year, she was ranked World No. 1. 1988 made Steffi a legend. She won all the Grand Slam titles - Australian, US, French and Wimbledon and then added the prestigious Olympic gold medal at Seoul to her kitty. After 18 long years of playing competitive tennis, Steffi decided to hang up her rackets after losing to Lindsay Davenport in the finals of Wimbledon in 1999.
Between 1988 - her year of glory - and her retirement in 1999, Steffi achieved enough to be considered one of the finest players of all time. She was World No. 1 player for a record 377 weeks – 186 consecutive weeks out of them at the top from August 1987. She won 22 Grand Slam titles in all and prize money of $ 21.8 million. She earned millions more through advertisements. Steffi won 7 singles titles at Wimbledon, 5 at the US Open, 7 at the French Open, and 4 at the Australian Open. She has a total of 103 career singles titles.
Her share of problems throughout her illustrious career has dogged the mentally strong Steffi. She has had to contend with injuries, the stabbing of Monica Seles by one of her fans - which disturbed her psychologically, and her father’s taxation and other problems. These emotional storms never impaired her skill, style and dignity and it helped her emerge stronger and more determined to show the world the stuff she was made of.
Known for her sledgehammer forehand strokes and her determination, she had been written off by the Enfant Terrible of tennis, Martina Hingis when she failed to win a Grand Slam title for three years after 1995, calling her ‘a spent force’. Ironically, Hingis faced Steffi in the final of the French Open in 1999 and lost to her in three sets. Such was Steffi’s mental strength!
Steffi is married to another tennis legend, Andre Agassi and they have a daughter named Jazz.