November 15, 1994
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
Q. Steffi, is it an unusual position for you to be overshadowed or the second showing and did you like it, for a change?
STEFFI GRAF: I didn't really think too much about it because I just thought about it as Martina's night, so, I never really felt like it wasn't supposed to be like that.
Q. No. I meant was it nice for a change just not to be the focus for the whole night? That's what I meant.
STEFFI GRAF: Yes, because it wasn't easy for me, it was the first match I played for quite a while and I didn't have an easy opponent, I knew I won't get a lot of rallies and I had to be on my toes constantly and, so, I felt good concentrating the way I did and maybe not having that much pressure on myself.
Q. Steffi, can you get us up-to-date with what's happened with you from the Open to now; when you started playing; what's the back -- just go through the last couple of weeks or months?
STEFFI GRAF: Okay, could be a little bit longer. To make it short, I didn't play for more than three weeks. I didn't do anything other than special gymnastic and special weight training. I tried to play for a couple of days, it hurt so much that I couldn't continue then. I got injections for like two weeks which I hoped it would help and through that period, I constantly worked on my back, a lot of weight training and special gymnastics and special therapy and I started again, it started to hurt again, so, I stopped again for a couple days. Then I started again, I was taking different medication and so I've been able not to play for maybe -- to play -- I mean, playing hard, I've been able to play now for a week, less than a week. So it's been a very difficult time.
Q. Steffi, are those injections painkillers or cortisone or what is it you are taking?
STEFFI GRAF: Anti-inflammations.
Q. What is the problem? Is it a disc problem?
STEFFI GRAF: No, it is not a disc problem. It is a really strong inflammation in my back, the sacroiliac and lower lumbar and I haven't been able to get inflammation out of there so far.
Q. So the injections and the medication are anit-inflammatory or any muscle relaxants; do you take those?
STEFFI GRAF: No, that doesn't have anything to do with it.
Q. Is the diagnosis a dislocated disc?
STEFFI GRAF: No, it has nothing to do with the disc. It has to do with the bone.
Q. You described it as being -- at the Open as being fractured; is that correct?
STEFFI GRAF: No, that's not correct. It wasn't the right diagnosis. It -- just leave it with inflamed. Stress reaction in the back, I think that's a lot easier.
Q. Then why are you here --
STEFFI GRAF: Excuse me?
Q. Is there any suggestion on how long it would take to clear up completely?
STEFFI GRAF: I have no idea. I have to see a different doctor, a specialist on inflammation after the tournament.
Q. Does it seem to be a matter that you have to be patient, do they know it will get better or might it always be chronic throughout your career?
STEFFI GRAF: Chronic inflammation, that's what they've told me and it's at a very difficult spot, so, it is very difficult to tell right now. It could be staying there for a long time.
Q. Did tonight make any difference, worse, better?
STEFFI GRAF: No, actually, I didn't feel like it tightened up or anything or like it started to hurt, none at all. It's been really good for the past week or so.
Q. Is this the kind of thing that could end your career? Is it something -- I forgot my question. Is it something that plays on your mind during the match that something could injure in the match--
STEFFI GRAF: It's my first match since, so I didn't really have that problem at all.
Q. Before, did it happen?
STEFFI GRAF: Obviously. You know, if you try different thing for eight or nine weeks and nothing works, you get, you know, you worry about it and you think about it and you get depressed at certain times because you work for hours at a day and different therapies and nothing works.
Q. Steffi, it's painful to hear you talk about it. May I be impolite and ask: Why you're here?
STEFFI GRAF: You know, I think I was very patient the last two months and I didn't play a lot of tennis at all. I mean, in eight weeks, I played three days which isn't much, but, you know, it's something that doesn't help. It is not going to help if you're not going to play. That's one thing I found out --
Q. But can it be hurt by continued playing?
STEFFI GRAF: No, it cannot, no.
Q. You're convinced of that?
STEFFI GRAF: Yes. I've been to a lot of doctors and I've been made very sure of that.
Q. Steffi, while you couldn't play, how much did you miss it, not being able to compete?
STEFFI GRAF: The thing is, it's difficult for me to tell because I was able to do a lot of weight training, a lot of special gymnastics for it every day, so I didn't really miss it too much because I was really busy doing different things, but now that I've been able to play, you know, I missed it. But I think at that time it was -- I didn't miss it too much because it frustrated me a little bit.
Q. Steffi, is this the kind of injury that could end your career prematurely and have the doctors indicated in any way or are you thinking that way?
STEFFI GRAF: No, I mean, I really have to get another opinion on it, but it shouldn't. I mean, it shouldn't.
Q. Has it scared you to that effect?
STEFFI GRAF: Has it what?
Q. Has it scared you that that could happen?
STEFFI GRAF: Well, you always, you know, I feel my career is not at the end and I think there are things that I would like to continue to do and like to reach, and it would disappoint me a lot if I would have to stop, but I don't think it's at that point at all.
Q. Steffi, what -- have the experts told you what were the causes that developed the injury?
STEFFI GRAF: Yes, it's overuse and the thing is that my back bones are not as strong as they -- as a usual person would have and I think I have that a little bit from my mother. She had a lot of back problems and lot of back operations and my bones are not quite as strong as other persons would have it.
Q. Have they hinted about the way of stroking the ball or any other strokes; has that contributed to the injury?
STEFFI GRAF: I don't think it is a special stroke. I think it's the tennis itself. There are a lot of stokes and a lot of quick movements which make it difficult.
Q. On a completely different topic, Martina Navratilova retired tonight and you've played her many times. To you what did she mean to women's tennis?
STEFFI GRAF: That's another long answer I could give.
Q. Well, try to --
STEFFI GRAF: I try. I think I can -- I'm going to start with what she meant to all of us. I think by just beinging here tonight, you could see what she means to tennis, to the spectators, to all the players and that doesn't happen very often I think in any sport, that all the players show so much respect to a person, and she had such a long career, and at such a high level. There are not many athletes you can find around in any sport in completed at any certain level like that and the way she did was a lot -- she gave a lot to the sport. She was always there with her whole heart and I think all that together has just made her so special.
Q. Was she special to you?
STEFFI GRAF: She was always special to me. I think I have a lot of memories, and a lot of things that happened between us and always some great matches. I think we had a lot of things that were-- that we liked the same, for example, our passion towards Wimbledon or about competing, just playing tennis, and I think we are similar in this way. And so, I think there are a lot of things that make such passion.
Q. Going back to tonight, was it more important for to you win today or just get through this match and not feel anything wrong with the back? You said it didn't tighten up, you didn't feel any pain?
STEFFI GRAF: I think it is a combination of both of it. I think it felt great having to play the first match and not having -- because I haven't really played a lot of matches or a lot of points or a lot of games. And just to go out and know I'm not going to have an easy match you have to concentrate and I was happy that I was able to play point after point, and like you said, without having any pain, and I think that all together made it a great night.
Q. Steffi, going back to Martina, she said the thing she'll miss the most is playing the champions like yourself and at Wimbledon she said the thing she would love to do, what she dreamed about is playing you alone with no crowd and nobody, just playing by yourselves in Center Court; would you like to have that --
STEFFI GRAF: I started that. I started saying that. That's something that I always felt doing. And I think I was like -- I think the story has been around. Last year I was trying to find her after the singles finals and I wanted to play just for fun and this year we have been able to practice in Wimbledon together. Just hadn't had fun playing games and the last week we played a couple times together so we have been having fun and hopefully once in a while she'll play doubles.
Q. Who wins those fun games?
STEFFI GRAF: Who cares?
Q. Is there -- Steffi, you mentioned you had a number of memorable matches with Martina; is there one that stands out and if so what would it be?
STEFFI GRAF: For me? It would be the one, the first Wimbledon one when she was leading 7-5 and 2-Love and I came back to win the match 6-2, 6-1. I think that's the one that I -- for myself I would count the most important, but I think 1986, played the-- played the Open and I had three match points-- I was quite young at the time, so, it was memorable as well.
Q. When you are not working on the weights, gymnastics, tennis, if you're living a normal life hanging out, does your back bother you all the time or is it okay?
STEFFI GRAF: Not all the time. I think the first three weeks after U.S. Open, it was really painful, and after that it got better time after time, but then it didn't bother me.
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