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    Ambitious Steffi Graf wins another Slam


    Tennis icon makes pickleball
    Ambitious Steffi Graf wins another Slam

    Steffi Graf has won another Slam. To be more precise, a Pickleball Slam alongside her husband Andre Agassi. But it is not always easy for the former tennis queen to be Steffi Graf. Because the head knows things that the body is not yet ready for.

    Sometimes it's not so easy to be Steffi Graf. That's what Steffi Graf says, and she should know. The tennis queen of the 80s and 90s admits that she needs to break away from tennis. Ambition is important and necessary, but these days it's better to keep it in moderation. The 54-year-old gave these rather unusual insights into her thoughts and feelings before the highly anticipated Pickleball Slam in the USA – which she naturally won alongside her husband Andre Agassi.

    Pickleball, then. A trend sport that has long been popular and growing rapidly across the Atlantic, a mixture of tennis, badminton and table tennis. It is played with a racket with a wrist strap that looks a bit like a breakfast board. The ball has small holes that serve to slow down the game. The field is marked like a tennis court, but the net is much lower. Pickleball, as the German Pickleball Association advertises it, is suitable for all ages.

    Reduced speed? Flat net? Racket with wrist strap? And Steffi Graf – does that fit? Yes, says Andre Agassi, but admits that “we started out playing with our children at home for fun, but you have to be honest and say that Stefanie took us to another level.” Jaden Gil, 22, and Jaz Elle, 20, soon lost interest. Jaden preferred to play baseball, Jaz is a talented dancer. The parents stuck with it.

    It all started in Las Vegas

    When the Pickleball Slam 2023 made its first stop in his hometown of Las Vegas, Agassi was of course there. Together with Andy Roddick, he won against John McEnroe and Michael Chang – McEnroe was so frustrated at one point that he handed his racket to Steffi Graf, who was sitting in the audience: “You carry on.” She did, and of course she scored the point. And was finally convinced.

    And so it came to be that at the Pickleball Slam 2 on Sunday in Miami, four tennis greats with a total of 42 Grand Slam titles were on the court. Steffi Graf (22), who has long wanted to be called Stefanie, Agassi (8), McEnroe (7) and Maria Sharapova (5). In the end, Agassi converted the match point, McEnroe was unable to return and did what everyone always expected of him: He ranted a bit for the gallery.

    What Steffi Graf demands of herself

    In the meantime, Stefanie Graf is working on herself with the same determination that once made her a tennis legend. “It's not that easy for me,” she admitted: “I want to be constantly moving, I want to hit the ball as hard as possible, I don't want to be slower and wait patiently.” She learned all of this in tennis, and it's hard to let go of it: “My head knows what to do, but my body isn't quite ready to let go of tennis yet.”

    While Agassi enjoys playing pickleball as a recreational sport with his buddies, Graf took coaching lessons. At first, she says, she found it difficult to reawaken the competitive spirit in herself: “But everyone knows: I love the challenge, but I don't want to overdo it.” And how is training going with her husband? Oh, says Graf, it can happen “that the racket slips out of your hand and lands in a corner.” Losing is forbidden.

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