November 16, 1999
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, NEW YORK CITY
STEFFI GRAF: I thought I played pretty good today (laughter) No, no, that was awhile
Q. An empty 19 now?
STEFFI GRAF: An empty 19, yeah. I know Lindsay was pretty keen on her locker. That was
one of the pieces that, you know, was very, very special to me because I really always had
that corner in the locker room, and the ladies always knew that that was the locker that I
wanted to have; so they kept it always. So it was really fun having that.
Q. When Wayne Gretzky played last week here he said that he realized in the last minute
that his career was over. When was that moment for you?
STEFFI GRAF: That moment came after Wimbledon, and, you know, it didn't really hit me
at one specific time. It just came gradually, when I started to get ready for the
tournaments and I realized that, you know, I wasn't really getting into it too much. I
felt a certain, not emptiness, but I felt a certain satisfaction that, you know, didn't
put tennis in the first place anymore. I realized I'm actually not keen to go to another
tournament. And if there was one moment when I felt pretty, pretty obviously it was on the
flight I was supposed to go to San Diego. I've had moments before, but it was like,
"Why am I going to San Diego?" That's when it basically hit me the most. I just
wanted basically to be very sure it was the decision I wanted, not just because I was
tired, because it was difficult weeks with Paris and Wimbledon, and as I was there and
finally played I was very sure about it.
Q. You've obviously enjoyed so much of your tennis, the matches you've played, is this
all now a relief?
STEFFI GRAF: I wouldn't say a relief. But it -- I really have enjoyed my time off. It's
been a lot busier than I wanted it to be, but you go through a lot of emotions, not even
playing tournaments. It's preparing for them, you know, the ups and downs of practices.
You know, tennis rules your day, your routines. It kind of, you know, depending how you do
and how you're happy about it, kind of gets into your personal life, too. I was really
happy to kind of, not being as moody any more and not having to go through these emotions.
It's nice to have a lot calmer life.
Q. Looking back since 1986, do you think the time went by too fast or too slow?
STEFFI GRAF: You're talking about here, right?
Q. The final match in 1986 against Martina --?
STEFFI GRAF: The one that I lost 7-6 in the third?
Q. Yes. Do you think time went by fast or slow, when you go back in time?
STEFFI GRAF: It went fast. Yeah, for me to say, you know, think about it, I've played
for 17 years. I said that on the court today. You know, you hear a lot of people say, oh,
that was like 15, 20 years ago and I'm like, really? It felt incredible. I do not feel
like I've been playing on the tournament for 17 years.
Q. When you were standing off in the corner tonight as they prepared that video and you
were looking up at 1988, what were you thinking?
STEFFI GRAF: I wasn't looking at the video tonight. I couldn't. It was very emotional
for me to be out there and to reflect on my career, and to listen, to have people talk
about it, I know if I had watched that video, it would be difficult. It was difficult
anyway. But I could not watch it.
Q. We heard some people in the crowd calling for Andre Agassi. Has he helped make your
transition into retirement a little bit easier?
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, he has. No question. He brought me back to tennis, too, which I
probably didn't think that would happen. But yeah, he has in a way for sure.
Q. Do you feel that you played too long? Or are you satisfied with the point at which
you left tennis?
STEFFI GRAF: Very much. And I think that's made it easy the last few months. I've felt
that whatever I've done in my career gave me so much satisfaction to kind of look forward
to what's coming -- what's out there besides tennis. I feel very happy about the time that
I've played and what I've achieved, and how I went about it. And that gives me the peace
to go on with different things in my life.
Q. Many times in your career you've stood center court and received tremendous
ovations. But the ovation was for -- not for a tournament well-played, but for a career
well-played. Can you describe your emotions?
STEFFI GRAF: Very nervous. All day, I did not sleep at all last night, not one minute.
Yeah, it's incredible. It's overwhelming to be out there, and, you know, I went on court
and everybody stood up and cheered for such a long time. It was very moving for me.
Q. Is New York a special place for you? Has it been a special place for you to play?
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, no doubt about it. I mean, I've said it many times and I've lived
here for a few years and every time I come into the city, it's a special moment for me,
just looking at the skyline, and always the fans are very knowledgeable and very much into
it. A lot of matches to look back on and crowds that really got into it too.
Q. Once you finish the Farewell Tour, what does the future hold for you?
STEFFI GRAF: Plenty. I thought things would calm down a lot more after I retire, which
hasn't really happened. I've been on more airplanes than ever before. There's been a few
things that I always felt I wanted to have more time, for my charity, for my foundation,
and that's something that I'm going to obviously pursue more and more and try to help
wherever I can. I probably have a few different things, options for the time after. I'm
starting slowly now to get into and figure out if I really want to do it. A couple of
things that I enjoy I will enjoy very much doing.
Q. You lasted longer than Boris Becker., Has he given you advice on retirement?
STEFFI GRAF: No, we haven't really talked much about that. We've seen each other and
talked a few times, but we haven't talked much about that, no.
Q. During your speech, you seemed to get most emotional when you referred to your coach
of the last seven years. Now that tennis is over, what has he taught you that you're going
to take on to your life now?
STEFFI GRAF: You know, he taught me a lot about tennis, no question. But off the court,
he was somebody that I could turn to and somebody that was always there for me, and
somebody that taught me a lot about life and about myself. And so actually, he's -- he
took a lot into who I am.
Q. What advice would you give to the girls now, the new crop that's coming up?
STEFFI GRAF: It's always difficult to give advice. You've got to try to find your own
way. You will make your own mistakes; you will learn out of them, and, you know, rebound,
everybody has a little different approach. There is no general advice, but the most
important out there is to do what you feel like and enjoy what you're doing, because
otherwise it can be very tough.
Q. Do you feel like over the last 17 years so many things swirled around your life, do
you feel like tennis was something of a lifeline for you?
STEFFI GRAF: That's what I mentioned earlier. Tennis takes up such a big part of your
day. Obviously, it does come into play, you know, in all kind of situations of your
private life, different things.
Q. But I mean an emotional lifeline?
STEFFI GRAF: Yeah, obviously, I've mentioned that before. It helped when things are not
going too well offcourt. It did help me just to go out on the court and focus on something
different, something surrounding that I was extremely familiar with, that I felt -- I felt
that I was in complete control of. Yeah, that helped.
Q. How do you remember your previous coach?
STEFFI GRAF: In a lot of different ways. I spent -- I spent more than five years with
him in the beginning of my career, and I have to say, I've been very fortunate that I've
not had a lot of coaches, but I've had very good coaches. And it was somebody that I had
in 1988, during my Grand Slams, a lot of memories that we shared throughout the
tournaments. Also somebody that I felt, almost like a father figure that I was very close
to at that time.
Q. Do you feel a sense of closure because of this ceremony tonight, and you've always
talked about your competitive spirit. Are you going to maybe channel that competitive
spirit to something else?
STEFFI GRAF: First question, you know, I felt when I made the decision of retiring,
that's when I felt that I'm going into a new stage of my life. That's probably when I felt
it the strongest. What I did today is look back. I haven't really done that very much
since I stopped. I haven't really done it much before, but there was times and especially
tonight, that's when, you know, you get visions of special moments. Yeah, I guess that's
probably the time I've had to look back the most. That's what's brought out a lot to me.
Q. And as for the competition?
STEFFI GRAF: How do I channel that? I'm a pretty tough competitor in shuffleboard, and
I've got my few games where I can be competitive (laughs,) but I'm not worried about that
Q. Did you ever think when you retired that you would be sitting courtside watching
STEFFI GRAF: No, I didn't. It wasn't anything that I thought would happen.
Q. Can we infer from that beautiful ring that you have over there-- ?
STEFFI GRAF: My beautiful ring? The one I bought on the flight earlier this year?
Q. That's not the famous ring?
STEFFI GRAF: That's not the famous ring actually. That's something you saw that people
wrote about. It's about $200. You can get it on Lufthansa. (Laughter) It's a yoke ring,
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