Graf is Again the Queen of Wimbledon
Jul. 07, 1996
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) _ Steffi Graf amazes even herself.
Winning a seventh Wimbledon title with a suspect knee, a bad cold, little practice and her father languishing in jail was something she never expected.
``It's just incredible to me how the last few years have been going on, and how I've always been able to rise to the occasion,'' Graf said after her 6-3, 7-5 victory Saturday over Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. ``Knowing the situation I was in two weeks ago physically, it just seems amazing to me to really come through like that. I don't know how I do it. I just keep on doing it.''
Graf wasn't anywhere close to her best this Wimbledon. There were times she couldn't get her serve in, when her forehand became erratic. She appeared to get a break when darkness halted her semifinal match against Kimiko Date after the momentum had shifted.
The problems continued in the final. Sanchez Vicario staged a valiant rally from 0-4 down to tie the second set at 5-5 in the final.
Each time, however, Graf knew what she needed to do to win, and stepped up her game enough to do so. When Sanchez Vicario make her comeback, everyone else began contemplating a repeat of last year's three-set classic. Not Graf.
Graf spent the entire fortnight repeating that records meant nothing to her, but the numerical magnitude of this title was too great for it not to sink in. Twenty Grand Slams. One hundred career titles.
``It didn't catch me until I went to the locker room, about the 100th title,'' Graf said. ``Winning seven Wimbledons, it is something I've never imagined I would be able to do, and be capable of doing. You can't really put it into words.''
Of her Wimbledon titles, Graf said this one was the most unexpected. Not because she was having to take cough medicine and blow her nose during changeovers _ that was a nuisance. Not because her father had to watch her matches from a jail in Germany, where he's awaiting trial on tax evasion charges in connection with his management of her finances _ that's a distraction that's be haunting her for more than a year.
No, what made this Wimbledon unbelievable for Graf was that for the umpteenth time, she said yes when her body was saying no. A week before the start of the tournament, she injured a tendon in her right knee. She was able to limp through just three days of practice before playing her first match in the biggest tournament of the year. It also didn't help that Martina Navratilova said the injury was just an excuse in case she lost.
``I felt physically I wouldn't get through it all the way,'' Graf said. ``The last three years, I've had these decisions to play or not to play, and I've always chosen to play and take the risk. And every time, it's been working well.''