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Sports Then and Now



Queens of the Court: Steffi Graf, A Golden Champion 4

Posted on December 13, 2009 by Claudia Celestial Girl
Seven of Steffi Graf's 22 career Grand Slam titles came at Wimbledon.

Seven of Steffi Graf's 22 career Grand Slam titles came at Wimbledon.

“Will you marry me?” someone called from the stands.

“How much money do you have?” was Steffi’s gravely delivered response, eyes fixed upon her opponent across the net.

The crowd erupted in laughter.  It was Wimbledon, and a crowd, and player, not given to much jocularity.  She’d been dating race car driver, Michael Bartels, for years, with no indication that anything more serious was coming out of it.  It was an impertinent question, an improbable response, and so hugely funny at the time.

For me as a casual spectator (watching it on TV, from the horizontal position on the couch, no less), it was the first indication that the serious, un-smiling, un-’gamine,’ Steffi Graf might be  interested in more than crushing  opponents with hard-core resolve; be more than merely stoic in demeanor.

Stefanie Marie Graf.  Born June 14, 1969.  One of a few well-beloved living legends of this, or any, sport.  Arguably the greatest woman’s champion of all time.  She turned pro at age 13, at age 19 she completed one of the feats of all sports, a Golden Slam – a calendar year Grand Slam of tennis majors and an Olympic Gold medal (1988 – Sydney), that is only a part of her legend.

She retired in 1999, after almost 17 years in the sport, with a total of 22 major titles, second only in history to Margaret Court’s astounding 24.

What distinguished her (see summary at the end of the article), was ability on all surfaces.  Some tennis players are grass court specialists (with a minor on hardcourts), for example. Not Steffi.  She had terrific ability on all surfaces.

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Book Review: Andre Agassi “Opens” Up 12

Posted on November 14, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Andre Agassi uses his new book, Open, as a chance to purge his past and look toward the future.

Andre Agassi uses his new book, Open, as a chance to purge his past and look toward the future.

Much has been written about the admission by Andre Agassi in his new autobiography, Open, that he regularly used crystal meth over a period of months in 1997.

While some may see that revelation as significant and choose to use it as an opportunity to pass judgment on Agassi, the incident is actually little more than a relevant footnote in a 386-page memoir that serves as a self-introduction by a person we all thought we already knew.

While there have been greater tennis players, no other tennis star has so permeated the fabric of American culture as has this flamboyant character from Las Vegas. For more than 20 years, Agassi has transcended tennis and in the process become one of those rare American sports icons that is known not only by fans of his particular sport, but also by people who would be shocked to learn that all tennis matches aren’t played on hard courts.

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The 1980s: A Golden Era of Tennis 11

Posted on October 17, 2009 by JA Allen
The 1980s was a Golden Era for Professional Tennis.

The 1980s were a Golden Era for Professional Tennis.

It was the best of times – Tennis in the Eighties – when the thrill of tense tiebreaks entered everyman’s domicile, highlighted by exotic locales like Paris, Melbourne, London and New York.

The 1980s tennis also ushered in exciting yet exasperating players whose on-court conduct thrilled, engaged and enraged fans across the globe.

The ’80s energized the popularity base and took tennis out of country clubs and landed estates and into public parks and arenas.  It became a sport in contrast to an amenable pastime.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages
      April 8, 2024 | 1:26 pm
      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

      Read more »

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