Another article from 1993 on the Wimbledon finals.
Steffi didn't tie Martina's Wimbledon record after all. But without
her career-threatening knee injury in 97 and considering who won
Wimbledon in 97 and 98 ....
And don't forget, Steffi was just 27 years old when she won her last
Unknown UK Newspaper (Guardian?)
July 5, 1993
Graf's performance proves that never is a long, long time
They said it could not be done, but David Irvine feels Navratilova's
nine singles titles are within reach of Germany's five-times winner
NEVER say "never". Five years ago, when Martina Navratilova, then 31,
won her ninth Wimbledon title, it was suggested that her like
would never be seen again. No one, it was argued, would last
long enough in the modern game to threaten her record.
Yet on Saturday, at the end of the 100th women's championships,
Steffi Graf, 24 last month, stepped forward to accept the trophy for
the fifth time. Given her age, ability and luck it is conceivable
that, if her desire holds, she can equal or surpass Navratilova's
record. Other than Monica Seles. who has the mental strength to stop
As against Gabriela Sabatini two years ago, Graf emerged the victor
against Jana Novotna not solely by virtue of her own skills but to a
large degree through her opponent's frailties. Such is the German's
One hesitates to say that Graf won it, though she completed the last
two games with the flourish of a champion. Twenty minutes earlier she
had been at 1-4 and 30-40 on Novotna's serve and, as she admitted
later, "thinking I was out of it".
She should have been, Novotna had built a winning position through
superior skills, taking command of the second set after Graf denied
her the first with an ace at 6-5 in the tie-break and breaking the
champion twice for whatlooked to be in invincible 4-1 lead in the
What went on in Novotna's mind as she served at 40-30 we will never
know. Maybe the enormity of the possibility that she was about to end
the 11-year domination by Navratilova and Graf suddenly hit her, or
maybe she just remembered the times she had blown it in similar
Whatever it was, Novotna, who had served only three double faults in
12 service games and a tie-break, fired a first and then a second
serve long. "Deuce," said the umpire. And, with that, Novotna's game
fell apart. A mistimed volley and a wild smash gave Graf 2-4 and fresh
She still needed to produce an ace and a lashed forehand, which
Novotna was unable to handle on the volley, to prevent the Czech
player going 5-2 up, but that put still more pressure on Novotna who,
serving at 30-30, double-faulted yet again. From deuce she made two
more in succession. From then on the champion dropped only one more
Novotna, who led Seles by a set in the Australian final in 1991,
again came far closer to creating an upset than any of the other
"nearly" players yet, in the final analysis, was lacking the mental
strength to seize her opportunity.
That is the essential difference between Graf and Seles and the
others among the top 10. Graf, asked what she thought Novotna could do
about it, said: "How can you train the human brain?"
As a dejected Novotna waited for the presentation ceremony she
plucked at her shirt collar and glanced up towards her coach Hana
Mandlikova. Another inch and her fingers would have touched her
throat. Had she choked?
Novotna said not. "Against Sabatini and Martina I won because I went
for my shots," she said. "Today I decided to do the same thing because
I know I cannot play negative tennis. The sad thing is that it didn't
work as it had in the last two matches. And that was the difference. I
don't think nerves had anything to do with the defeat today."
Graf, who admitted feeling "really bad" for her opponent, had little
doubt that the occasion had been just too much for Novotna. So did she
think Novotna had choked? "Had I been in that situation and played
like that, then that is how I would see it."
That Graf felt deeply for Novotna was obvious, But there can have
been no more poignant scene on the Centre Court than when the Duchess
of Kent drew the pale, weeping Novotna to her shoulder in an attempt
to comfort her.
The duchess said: "Don't worry Jana, you'll be back next year." The
tears poured out. "I wanted to handle myself well but when she smiled
at me I just let go." said Novotna.
At two hours and 14 minutes it was the second longest women's final
of the 100 now completed and a contest worthy of the occasion. Graf
has now won 13 Grand Slain titles, in seven years and will be a firm
favourite to make it 14 at the US Open in early September, by which
time Seles may have returned to the circuit.