If there is one odd quick about me that always seems to take people by surprise, it's my very serious love of (almost) all things German. Basically my parents met in Germany and went to university there, and have passed on all the German traditions on to my sister and I. I drive a German car, have a German knife set, speak German, worship at the altars of Juergen Klinsman and Michael Ballack, and just three days ago had a dinner of wienerschnizel, spaetzle, and reibekuchen all washed down by a cold Radler. Schmeckt Gut!
All this is to say, duh! I love Steffi and Boom Boom. Always have, always will.
Much to my joy, Steve Tignor is doing a fun series of pieces on them using YouTube clips of their playing days:
The trend didn’t end with Johnny Mac’s terrorization of the All England Club. The decade’s real legacy, as far as how the game is played, came four years later with the seismic shift toward power and explosive athleticism—in your face tennis was here, and it was here to stay. What now seems odd, at least to me, is that the earliest harbingers of this transformation were two teenagers, Steffi Graf and Boris Becker, who had grown up at the same time and in the same obscure place, the suburbs of Heidelberg, West Germany. What was in the water over there?
Two Germans at once; two Belgian women at once; three Serbs at once—is there any explanation for tennis’ seemingly random nationalistic surges? West Germany hadn’t had a No. 1 player on either tour during the Open era. Then, within about 24 months, they produced two players who would change the sport forever. Graf and Becker had even practiced together as kids. “I used to be the worst in the boys and she used to be the best in the girls,” Becker said of Graf, “and I all the time had to hit with her.” They taught each other something special.
Check out the rest of the piece, which has some cool links to their early playing days when they splashed on the scene. Awesomeness.