German tennis player, who dominated women's tennis from the late 1980s until the late 1990s.
Born in West Germany, Graf was encouraged to make tennis her career by her father, who coached her for many years. Her introduction to the professional circuit was rewarded with immediate success; by 1987 she was ranked top women's player in the world (deposing Martina Navratilova), winning eleven of the thirteen tournaments she contested that year, as well as the French Open title. Her devastating forehand was perhaps the secret of her subsequent victories in the Australian, French, Wimbledon, and US Open singles championships in 1988, making her only the fourth woman to achieve the coveted grand slam of the four major titles. She also added to her triumphs an Olympic gold medal in the women's singles. In 1989 she repeated her victories in the Australian, Wimbledon, and US Open tournaments. Owing to strong competition from a new generation of rising young stars her domination of the sport was never again so complete. Nevertheless, she took the Australian title in 1990, the Wimbledon singles championship in 1991–93 and 1995–96, the US Open in 1994–96, and the French Open in 1996. From late 1996 her career was blighted by injury and the German authorities' investigation of her tax affairs, which resulted in her father being jailed for fraud. In April 1997 she finally lost her ranking as the world's number one woman player to the young Swiss player, Martina Hingis (1980– ).
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).