Female Clay Court GOAT

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by NadalAgassi, Apr 29, 2012.

  1. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    This is my list of the top female clay courters of all time:


    1. Chris Evert
    2. Steffi Graf
    3. Suzanne Lenglen
    4. Justine Henin
    5. Monica Seles
    6. Margaret Court
    7. Helen Wills Moody
    8. Maureen Connolly
    9. Aranxta Sanchez Vicario
    10. Hilde Krahwinkel Sperling
    11. Martina Navratilova
    12. Gabriela Sabatini
    13. Doris Hart
    13. Conchita Martinez
    14. Ann Haydon Jones
    15. Nancy Richey
    16. Lesley Turner
    17. Margaret Osborne Du Pont
    18. Mary Pierce
    19. Martina Hingis
    20. Evonne Goolagong
    21. Hana Mandlikova
    22. Angela Mortimer
    23. Simone Mathieu
    24. Margaret Scriven Vivian
    25. Svetlana Kuznetsova
    26. Shirley Fry
    27. Althea Gibson
    28. Serena Williams
    29. Jennifer Capriati
    30. Venus Williams



    What would yours be.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 29, 2012
    #1
  2. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Good list. I certainly agree with your #1 rank.
     
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  3. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    The top 3 places could be Chris Evert. She has no peer on the surface. Graf, Seles, and even Navratilova had 2 or 3 year spurts they could have challenged her and beaten her some, but Chris was nearly untouchable on clay for 13-15 years. Once had a 125 match win streak on clay that stretched 6 years. Simply amazing.
     
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  4. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    How many FO titles Sabatini won?
     
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  5. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    None obviously but she won a huge # of tier 1 and tier 2 titles on the surface. She played in by far the deepest and strongest clay court era in history with Graf, Seles, Sanchez Vicario, Martinez, Sabatini, Pierce, Hingis, and others. Nothing even comes close to that as an overall clay field. In any other era she would have won a French, probably multiple.
     
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  6. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Fernandez was also a very good clay courter of the 90´s even though , alike Sabatini, never won the French.
     
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  7. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    The players that stand out for me when I think of greatest female clay courters are obviously Evert as well as players like Seles, Richey, Connolly Sanchez, Martinez, Hingis and Sabatini.
     
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  8. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Finally one without debate, Miss Chrissy at #1 and if Nadal keeps this up (won another clay today), it might be no debate on the men's side either
     
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  9. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    I think Wills should be higher at 5. Otherwise no quibbles
     
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  10. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Do you think she was better than Court and Seles who I had just above her? Or were you thinking I should move someone else down (Henin maybe).

    Even though they never played on it and both dominated, I strongly believe Lenglen would have had the edge over Wills on clay from what I know of both players game. It is grass and all other potential surfaces that is harder to say.
     
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  11. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    TMF QUOTED SAYING NALBANDIAN...AND RODDICK ARE BETTER THAN LAVER¡¡¡¡ Shall I laugh or Shall I cry?.

    TMF, take it easy, boy.This is really huerting you.
     
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  12. monfed

    monfed Guest

    Why can't Henin be #1 here? :-?
     
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  13. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    She really wasn't dominant enough. Great player, perhaps the most complete women player of recent years but while she was great she didn't do enough.

    Her clay court record can't compare with some.
     
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  14. JUAN_PRADO

    JUAN_PRADO Rookie

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    evert of course
     
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  15. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    I was thinking of putting her ahead of Seles and Henin based on her astounding dominance for years and years. ( That one RG withdrawl in before a second rd match was appendicitis) I would have bet I'd find plenty of other tournaments on clay she had won during her 4 years without loosing a match and barely a set. But so far I haven't. Can't find any listing of all the tournaments she won let alone their surface, just the majors and the Olympics. I do agree that Lenglen was better by what I've read.
     
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  16. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Since she played in a really weak female clay era and still is only tied for 5th all time in French Opens won behind Evert (7), Graf (6), Lenglen (6), and Court (5). Because she never dominated clay to the extent of Evert who won 125 straight matches stretched over 6 years on clay at one point. Because twice as the favorite to win Roland Garros she went out to some nobody in an early round (2002 Kapros, 2004 Garbin), and in 2010 as the title favorite went out in the round of 16 to Samantha Stosur who went on to lose to Schiavone. Since her longevity is poor, all her tier 1 or higher titles on clay were 2002-2007. If anything my ranking of her was generous. Henin struggled with peak Serena Williams on clay in 2002-2003 and everyone knows Serena is far from the GOAT clay courter.

    Anyway feel free to make your own rankings and put Henin at #1 if you wish. That is what this thread is for, for people to make their own rankings, but so far I am the only one who has unfortunately.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2012
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  17. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Well I think you nailed the 1 and 2, after that, it's all a blur to me since I often chose to watch paint dry vs. watching the women on clay.
     
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  18. dannykl

    dannykl Rookie

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    Evert probably is the greatest on clay.
    But she dominates clay in an era when competition on clay is relatively low.
    Very few elite clay players in the 70's when she dominated.
    In the early to mid 80's, the competition on clay improved a bit, but still not many top clay players.

    Late 80's and the 90's is the most competitive era on clay. Graf, Seles, Capriarti, Sabatini, Martinez, Sanchez, Hingis...are all first class clay players.

    If Martinez and Sabatini were players in the 70's, they would have already won several French Open titles.But unfortunately they face Graf, Seles and Sanchez in the 90's on clay. It makes them difficult to win a French Open title.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2012
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  19. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I do wonder if we are underrating some of the greats like Helen Wills and Suzanne Lenglen. These women had great strokes. I would read stories about Wills practicing with men and not missing for a few thousand times over the net before they had to stop. Of course that's practice but the point is that she had great errorless strokes. Lenglen was known for her great footwork, speed and just overall ability.

    I believe Wills was about 5'9" tall with great power.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9SmGflhMq8

    I suppose I have to go with Chris Evert overall. She faced Goolagong, Navratilova, Austin, Court, King, Wade, Sabatini, Graf, Sabatini, Seles, Casals, Shriver, Mandlikova on clay. The only one I don't see a plus record with on clay is Seles and they only met once on clay with Seles winning in three sets. It was a young Seles but it was an older Evert also. Even Graf doesn't have a plus record against Evert on clay but to be fair it the wins by Evert was before Graf was to reach her prime as a player.
     
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  20. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    Evert's consistency was amazing. She missed Roland Garros from 1976-78 so it's very likely she would have won nine or ten French champs. Seles won 3 in a row and would undoubtedly have won more but for events. Wills and Lenglen are famous names in their era, but of course, it's hard to compare tennis then with more recent times.
     
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  21. BTURNER

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    Gotta remember that she did not miss out on a clay major in those years anyway. USTA basically gifted her three major titles in recompense - at the US OPen 75, 76,77 barely loosing any sets. She won 10 of her 18 sliding on dirt.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2012
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  22. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    I consider Chris as winning 10 French Opens. 1976-1978 werent even real French Opens as nobody was there (Sue Barker the best of the 3 winners even conceded so after winning in 1976), so since 1975, 1976, and 1977 were the only 3 years in history the U.S Open was held on clay, might as well just consider those 3 the French Opens for those years just 9 months in advance each year. Green clay is different than red, but the inevitable winner in either of those cases was the champion all 3 so who cares.

    If this werent the case I would probably rank her behind Graf on clay since while I believe Graf hugely benefited from the Seles stabbing at Roland Garros, even with the Seles stabbing Graf had much harder overall competition than Evert on clay. So if it were 7 French vs 6 it would be easy to go with Graf, but it is really 10 vs 6 so I wont. Plus Graf never came close to Evert's longest win streak on clay, which was amazing no matter how poor the clay field was in the mid to late 70s.
     
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  23. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    True enough about Wills and Lenglen but remember Wills won 19 majors including four French Championship out of five attempts. The only time she missed was when she was young in 1926 and had to have an appendectomy. How many would she have won if she was able to play the French regularly? Transportation wasn't easy in those days overseas.

    I would still go with Evert but I could see Wills and Lenglen challenging Evert if they only had the chance.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2012
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  24. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    I will read up on Wills and Lenglen again and consider their careers and records.
     
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  25. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    True and she would have won even more if she had turned up at Roland Garros from 76-78!
     
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  26. dannykl

    dannykl Rookie

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    Seles emerged in a period when Graf was seriously bothered by her family relations troubles and media attacks on her family.

    The first scandal of his father's affairs emerged just before 1990's French Open.

    Graf's performance soon drops after the family crisis began in summer 1991. She lost in French, in Wim and also in the US that year.

    It took her some time to become more mentally tougher and mature to overcome these challenges and become a even greater champion.

    By 1995, she has become mature and strong enough that even facing greater off court troubles, she still dominate the court.
     
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  27. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Either way it is irrelevant. I still ranked Graf #2. Evert won 10 French Opens (basically). Graf only 6. So even with her deeper competition she did not come close enough to Evert's clay achievements to merit ranking over her. Plus she never came close to something like Evert's 125 match win streak. In the event Graf played in a clay era as weak as the mid to late 70s Evert set that streak she "might" have but then again maybe not. Goolagong was a good clay courter who might have scored an upset over Graf at one point, or Graf with her higher risk more error prone clay game could have had a bad day and bad loss at some point in a 6 year span, even with almost no competition.
     
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  28. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Mandlikova should have won 2-3 more FO had she been in mood.

    Hingis was better on fast courts, but she is the single player stolen a major title by the french crowd.I never saw it elsewhere...
     
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  29. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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  30. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    In true Hana-like fashion, red clay should've been her worst surface but percentage wise was her best. If you discount her green clay record (her worst surface) it becomes her best surface. The surface that asks for the most consistency was the best for an inconsistent player.

    At the French during her prime (1980-1986) she only failed to make her seeding once losing to Khode in the QF. Otherwise her losses were to only Chris three times and Martins twice. A far more consistent record than at Wimbledon where the surface should've favored her game.

    Sigh....another great but frustrating player.
     
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  31. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    The French Open isnt the only clay court event though. It is obviously the most important but I tried to consider all the clay court events, not just Roland Garros. Martinez and Sabatini have amazing records on clay, even without winning Roland Garros in the deepest clay court era ever. Should someone who won Roland Garros once by fluke (essentialy) like Majoli, Myskina, Na, or Schiavone rank higher since they won Roland Garros. I dont think so. It is hard for me to even rank the like of Pierce as high, since although she wasnt a fluke winner, and did do well in some other clay events, she wasnt the regular enormous force on the regular clay circuit year in and year out and Sabatini and Martinez.

    Graf and Seles were the two worst opponents for Sabatini. Her serve was a weakness and they had the two best returns in history (especialy Seles). They overpowered her and were mentally tougher, and the combination was too much to overcome. Although we will never know considering she was already pushing Evert on clay at roughly age 15, I think she would have had a better shot to sneak out a French in a previous era than her own. I wont even get started basically any era since 1996.
     
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  32. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Sabatini played herself?

    Wow she is good!:)
     
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  33. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I guess Sabatini worked on her speed so she was able to rally against herself. And I thought Borg was fast.:)

    Seriously Sabatini was a great clay player. She almost defeated Graf in the semi of the 1987 French I believe. I think she served for the match and lost but I'm not 100% certain and I'm too tired to check right now. Sabatini would have faced Navratilova in the final with a good chance to win.
     
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  34. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    I had no idea she was thaat consistent on red dirt at RG. Fascinating. But I don't recall any red clay titles beyond that 81 French. Nothing in Rome or Berlin or Madrid in her column.
     
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  35. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    The 81 FO was her last. Hana herself said clay was her worst surface and she didn't play as much as she should have on that surface. Had she I think she would've won more.

    Hana loved Florida and made it her second home. That's probably why she played so many green clay events vs. red clay. Her scheduling though is further indication that she placed little value on winning anything that wasn't a slam or YEC.
     
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  36. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Which green clay events did she win. I have her listed as only having won 4 clay tournaments, the French Open in 81 obviously, and the others were Milan 1978, Barcelo 1978, and Kitzbuhel 1979. None of these sound like big events, and all were in Europe so were probably Red Clay. That is why I didnt rank her that high. She performed consistently well at Roland Garros which is why I included her on my list at all (along with beating Evert at Roland Garros) but I dont recall her winning many other clay events, nor could I find her listed as doing so.
     
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  37. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    I think you are right not to, I suspect she disliked the surface, which required her to work a point more than her temperament permitted time after time, match after match as she grew older. As her personality grew toward adulthood, she had less interest and success in long drawn out points. RG was the fluke not the pattern. It sure wasn't a problem with movement or strokes understanding the needs of the surface.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2012
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  38. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    She didn't win any green clay events. It was clearly her worst surface though she played a ton of those events and far fewer red clay events which she was surprisingly consistent on - at least through 1986 which was the end of her peak.

    I wouldn't necessarily rank Hana higher on a clay court list, though if you asked me whose clay record I would rather have I would pick Hana's because of the French title. But I do think non French titleholders should be docked severely.
     
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  39. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    It is hard to rank someone like Sabatini since she was such a force on the regular clay circuit. To never make a French Open final was shameful for her though, even in the era she played in. She also lost some big matches from ahead at Roland Garros, 87 FO semis vs Graf, 92 FO semis vs Seles, and worst of all that horrific 93 FO quarterfinal vs Fernandez where she would have had a way off form Sanchez in the semis, and a well below her best Graf in the final. The last loss was her last great chance of winning a major, and destroyed her career for her (albeit she already seemed on slight decline before then).

    Martinez tended to be hugely consistent on clay except when she ran into one of the dominant big hitting and mentally tough type champion girls, and she seemed to have no answer to them, even on clay. Her many Premier type clay titles often came vs good opposition, but she also tended to need to avoid Graf and Seles, and sometimes even Sanchez or Pierce.

    Mandlikova obviously underperformed on the main clay circuit outside Roland Garros given her performances at Roland Garros. She should have had some better titles on clay than the ones I mentioned outside her RG win, or atleast more finals. Evert and Navratilova certainly didnt play every decent sized clay event back then.
     
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  40. monfed

    monfed Guest

    ORLY. :lol:

    BTW,thanks for the detailed explanation!
     
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  41. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    For whatever reason Hana only played Rome a few times and only once after 1982. In years where the weather was warm and dry she likely would've done well. Not sure why she played Berlin more often later in her career. It was usually wet and/or cold which didn't suit her game and actually was the beginning of her career long back injury at the 1981 Berlin event because of the heavy conditions. She did help the Czechs win 2 Fed Cups on red clay and beat everyone of consequence on that surface except Martina (0-3).

    Its interesting that you mentioned the 1987 French match between Graf and Sabatini. For the lack of a better word, I always felt that was the biggest match of their rivalry and put Grad in the drivers seat for good. Had she beaten Grad it would've. put more pressure on Steffi who had not yet won a slam. I think Martina would've. won that hypothetical final, but imagine what a French title might have done for her career.
     
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  42. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Sabatini beat Martina 7-6, 6-1 at Rome that year. I actually think Sabatini would have won that hypothetical final but it is pretty much a 50-50 call. Either way I agree the pressure on Graf would have rose further had she lost that match.

    Graf always seemed to have a HUGE chip on her shoulder when playing Sabatini though, despite getting the better of their rivalry by a long ways. I think she viewed Sabatini's talents and abilities as far beneath her own and resented that Gaby could have challenge her and beat her as many times as she did. When Sabatini briefly dominated their head to head from mid 1990-mid 1992, that was the most miserable I saw Graf look on the tennis court in general (also around the same time Seles began dominating the game too of course). What is ironic is she seemed to respect Sanchez Vicario infinitely more despite that Aranxta IMO was a less talented player than Sabatini.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2012
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  43. dannykl

    dannykl Rookie

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    Both Sanchez and Sabatini have good relations with Graf despite their long rivalry on court. From mid 1990 to 1992, a period when Graf was deeply troubled by family problems and media malicious attacks, she not only had bad losses to Sabatini, but also 2 big losses to Sanchez in the Aus and the US Open. The family scandal is first revealed by tabloid in mid 1990 just day before the final of the Berlin, Graf lost that final to Seles and the French Open final 2 weeks later. She also broke down in front of media in Wim that year and lost in the semi in Wim.

    Steffi loves his father, his father plays a vital role in her tennis career. He brings her into tennis world, coaches her, manages her career. Peter has tremendous influence on Steffi in family life and in tennis career. So the family trouble by Peter really has great impact on a young Graf who was previously well protected by Peter. She loves her father, her famliy, but she had to learn to accept and face the hurt his father has done to her and her family.

    She gradually overcame the trouble and become a mentally stronger and more mature player.

    She still has a loving and close relation with her father after all these family troubles. She also brings Agassi back to his father, according to old Agassi. She shows us family love can overcome hate and hurt. And now Steffi has her own loving family with 2 kids. Very happy for her. She is the person who really understands and believes the meaning of love.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2012
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  44. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    3 Steffi Graf posts in a row, in 3 separate threads. It's Joe Pike with details about Steffi Graf and her family that only Joe Pike cares about.
     
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  45. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    God, I hope not. We do not need every thread derailed by Steffi talk.
     
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  46. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Pike is back...c´mon, tell me what would have Graf accomplished had not been for Sylvia Hanika pathfinding her...
     
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