Graf's life charted

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The Independent Online
One day, perhaps, Steffi Graf will write an autobiography in which she will fully express her feelings concerning the triumphs, travails and traumas which have marked her magnificent career, writes John Roberts.

For the moment, reminders of the story so far are to be found in a book by Sue Heady, a freelance writer whose previous publications were designed to introduce tourists to the delights of Mauritius, the Seychelles and the Hong Kong Country Club. Her journey around Graf has been more difficult to negotiate, chiefly on account of the number of signs indicating private property.

Even so, the book offers a reasonable impression of the 25-year-old German's public persona, given the subject's lack of co-operation. Numerous figures in and around the sport have been interviewed, piles of media cuttings have been studied.

The dramas and controversies which have played a part in Graf's life on the Tour have largely been matters beyond her control: injuries, illnesses and her father's highly publicised affair with a German model. Peter Graf has been so integral to his daughter's development as a player, from the moment he shortened the handle of one of his rackets and encouraged her to play, that anything which hurts him also hurts her.

Poised, athletic and dominating in her matches, Graf tends to be shy and reserved when she puts her rackets away. One quote in the book is particularly sad. "Friends? I have none." Maybe, but her admirers would form queues for Wimbledon the length of Church Road.

Steffi: Public Power, Private Pain by Sue Heady (Virgin Publishing, pounds 12.99).

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