Graf awarded Olympics' highest honor

Steffi Graf, winner of 22 Grand Slam titles and the 1988 OIympic champion, today received the Olympic movement's highest honour.

Steffi Graf, winner of 22 Grand Slam titles and the 1988 OIympic champion, today received the Olympic movement's highest honour.

International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch presented Graf with the Olympic order, praising her as an "outstanding example of fair play."

"She gave to us - to all the players in the world - a lesson in how athletes must behave in sport," Samaranch said at the ceremony in Lausanne's Olympic Museum in Switzerland.

Graf said it was "a very proud moment for me."

"The Olympics meant a lot to me and I felt very proud to be a part of it," she added. "I felt very fortunate in 1984 when tennis came back after years of not being part of it."

Tennis was in the Olympics it dropped out in 1924. At the 1984 Olympics, it returned as a demonstration sport.

Graf won the gold medal in Seoul four years later when it made its return as a full medal sport, completing a "golden slam" of the four Grand Slam events and the Olympic gold.

As well as her 22 Grand Slam titles - the last at this year's French Open - she won another 107 tennis tournaments.

The German tennis ace said she was disappointed to have to miss out on the tournament at the last Olympics.

"The toughest moment in 1996 when I had my problem with the knee was not to be part of it in Atlanta," she said.

The Olympic order is awarded by the IOC to recognize "those persons who have illustrated the Olympic ideal through their actions, have achieved remarkable merit in the sporting world or have rendered outstanding services to the Olympic cause."

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