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Wimbledon icon: Steffi Graf

Steffi Graf lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish on seven occasions, making her the joint-second most successful female player in Wimbledon Open era history.

The German's successes, achieved between 1988 and 1996, put her level with Serena Williams and two behind nine-times champion Martina Navratilova, who she faced in three Wimbledon finals.

Graf is one of only three German women to lift the title, alongside Cilly Aussem and Angelique Kerber, and is her country's only multiple winner of the tournament.

What2023 Wimbledon
WhereAll England Club, Wimbledon, London, UK
WhenMonday 3rd July 2023 - Sunday 16th July 2023
How to watchBet365 Sports Live Streaming, BBC & Eurosport
OddsIga Swiatek 5/2, Elena Rybakina 15/4, Aryna Sabalenka 5/1, Petra Kvitova 12/1, Coco Gauff 14/1, Ons Jabeur 16/1

Teenage sensation becomes a Grand Slam champion

Steffi Graf was a huge talent from a young age and made her Grand Slam debut at the age of just 13 when reaching the second round of the 1983 French Open.

By the end of 1983, Graf was ranked at 98 and she soon began to make an impact at the bigger tournaments.

Graf had just turned 15 when she made her Wimbledon debut in 1984 and advanced to the fourth round before losing out 6-3 3-6 7-9 to 10th seed Jo Durie.

A year later Graf reached the semi-finals at the 1985 US Open – losing 6-2 6-3 to Navratilova, who was to become a key rival in the early part of her career.

Graf was only 17 when she faced Navratilova in the French Open final which was the first of six Grand Slam finals between the pair.

She triumphed 6-4 4-6 8-6 to land the first of 22 Grand Slam victories but the tables were turned a month later with Navratilova defeating Graf 7-5 6-3 in the 1987 Wimbledon final.

First Wimbledon win and a Golden Slam

Graf's rivalry with Navratilova continued at the 1987 US Open final with the American registering a 7-6 6-1 success, but it was already becoming clear that the German teenager was going to have a lasting impact on the sport.

It was soon obvious that the Germans' predominantly baseline game was well-suited to all surfaces and her forehand drive became an iconic shot which was too powerful and accurate for most of her opponents to handle.

A first Wimbledon triumph seemed like a matter of time and it arrived in the middle of an outstanding 1988 season when she won all four Grand Slams.

Seeded number one at Wimbledon for the first time, Graf showed no signs of pressure and opened up with a 6-0 6-0 success over American Hu Na.

She won her opening six matches in straight sets – dropping only 17 games – but received a sterner test in the final against Navratilova before winning 5-7 6-2 6-1.

Graf completed the Golden Slam – four major titles in the same year – in September with her 6-3 3-6 6-1 success over Gabriela Sabatini in the US Open final.

Graf's winning spree continues

A second successive Golden Slam was almost achieved the following year (1989) with Graf winning the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles and finishing runner-up in the French Open.

Her second Wimbledon title was achieved in a similar fashion to the first with six straight sets wins - including a thumping semi-final success (6-2 6-1) over Chris Evert - preceding a more demanding 6-2 6-7 6-1 victory over Navratilova in the final.

After winning the 1990 Australian Open the 20-year-old Graf had racked up nine Grand Slam titles, but her first era of dominance was coming to an end.

Graf was to win one Grand Slam in each of the 1990, 1991 and 1992 seasons although the latter two of those victories were secured on Wimbledon's Centre Court.

When Graf overcame Monica Seles in the 1992 Wimbledon final she became the joint-second most decorated female Wimbledon champion of the Open era, alongside legendary four-times winner Billie Jean King.

Second dominant spell and final flourish

Judged by her ridiculously high standards, Graf could be said to have underperformed in the early 1990s but she soon returned to the peak of her powers, winning three Grand Slams in each of the 1993, 1994 and 1996 seasons.

Graf was a Wimbledon winner in each of those years, lifting her tally of singles titles at the All England Club from four to seven and raising the prospect of her challenging nine-times winner Navratilova as the most successful player in the tournament's history.

However, Graf began to suffer from persistent injury problems in 1997 when she failed to win a Grand Slam title for the first time in 10 years.

Shortly after her French Open quarter-final exit in 1997 she underwent reconstructive knee surgery and missed the Wimbledon and US Open Championships later that year.

Graf also missed the opening half of 1998 and was not at her best on her return to Wimbledon, suffering a third round loss to Natasha Zvereva.

Her fitness improved enough for her to reach two more Grand Slam finals in 1999 but hopes of an eighth Wimbledon crown were dashed by a straight sets loss to Lindsay Davenport in the final.

Graf won the French Open in 1999 – taking her Grand Slam tally to 22 – but she retired from the sport, aged 30, later that year.

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