Tennis: Graf retires after injuries take toll

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The Independent Online
STEFFI GRAF, who dominated the women's game for a decade before injuries began to hinder her career, announced yesterday that she was retiring from the sport at the age of 30. The German said her motivation had disappeared following her latest comeback from injury earlier this year, when she won the French Open and reached the final at Wimbledon.

"After that I feel I have nothing left to accomplish," she said. "The weeks following Wimbledon weren't easy for me. I'm not having fun any more."

Graf, who announced her retirement at a news conference in Heidelberg, near her home town of Bruhl, won 22 Grand Slam singles titles and had more than 100 victories on the WTA Tour. She said she is planning a farewell tour of exhibition matches later this year, and will then concentrate on her marketing company and developing young German talent.

Her retirement, along with Boris Becker's earlier this year, leaves a huge void in German sport. Between them they turned tennis into the second- biggest sport in Germany after football.

Graf said her boyfriend, the racing driver Michael Bartels, summed up her retirement best: "He said its like a chick that has to leave the nest sometime," she said. "Well, I want to leave the nest now."

She was hoping to make next month's US Open her last Grand Slam, but a strained hamstring made her change her plans.

Graf said she now planned to coach three young players, Julia Biffar, Mia Buric and Carolien Raba. "Tennis will always be a big part of my life," she said.

Farewell to a champion, page 18

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