Birthday Girl: Tennis Superstar Steffi Graf!

Hamish Blair/Getty Images
Hamish Blair/Getty Images

Today’s Birthday Girl doesn’t really have much to say for herself. Sure, she’s considered by a lot of people to be the greatest female tennis player of all time.  Yes, she’s the only player to win five consecutive Grand Slams. Okay, she also was able to retire at the age of 30. Oh, and she’s married to Andre Agassi, and the couple has two kids. Right, so, she doesn’t really have much to say for herself.

In case you haven’t already guessed — which is fair for those of you who aren’t tennis fans — today just happens to be Steffi Graf’s birthday, and she’s rather accomplished. In fact, despite the fact that she ended her career in 1999 as ranked No. 3, Billie Jean King, Steve Flink, and the Tennis Channel have all voiced their humble opinion on Graf’s level of play: According to the experts, Graf is the best female tennis player of all time.

Of course, such success does come with a price. As a kid — and even as a teenager and young adult — Graf was under constant pressure from her father to perform at the best of her ability. If you’re going to pursue a professional sports career, there’s no doubt that you have to push yourself and dedicate the majority of your time to practice and improvement. And although Graf did sacrifice a typical social life in order to reach an unbelievable level of playing, her father took good care of the sports star, limiting the number of matches and tournaments she played so that she wouldn’t burn out at an early age. It seems to us that he had the right idea — Graf retained a high ranking throughout her career after reaching No. 1 in 1987.

And, as it turns out, being a professional tennis player didn’t stop Graf from falling in love. Graf and Andre Agassi, another No. 1 tennis player with an very large following, married in 2001, and, just four days later, the couple had their first child, Jarden Gil. Two years later, they welcomed Jaz Elle into the family. According to Agassi, the couple never had any intention of pushing their children into the game of tennis. We think that’s quite commendable. With parents like Agassi and Graf, though, there’s not a doubt in our minds that those two kids are naturally gifted when it comes to being on the court.