Steffi Graf’s 1988 Golden Slam

Steffi Graf
Steffi Graf

 

Heidi Scott, an experienced tax law and estate planning attorney based in Mt. Sterling, Illinois, enjoys coaching her children as they play indoor soccer at the K&L Arena in Quincy, Illinois. She also played a key role in the development of Mt. Sterling’s first ever co-ed soccer league. Prior to getting involved in soccer, Heidi Scott played competitive tennis throughout high school and college.

In 1988, Steffi Graf completed what many tennis pundits and historians view as one of the greatest single seasons in the history of the sport. Graf’s 1988 season is often referred to as the Golden Slam. Prior to 1988, just two men and two women had won the sport’s four major titles in a single year, a feat known as the Grand Slam or calendar slam, with only two occurring after the professional and amateur tours merged in 1968. Graf became the fifth and most recent player to achieve a calendar slam and the first to add a gold medal.

Graf began the year at just 18 years of age and with one major title on her resume. She won the Australian Open, the year’s first grand slam event, without dropping a single set, defeating Chris Evert in the final, 6-1, 7-6(3). Graf followed up her second career major by defending her French Open title four months later. She again won the event without losing a set, this time defeating Natasha Zverev 6-0, 6-0, losing just 13 points. It was the first double bagel (a euphemism for a 6-0, 6-0 blowout) in a French Open final and the first in any major final in 77 years.

Wimbledon proved a trickier task for Graf. The 19-year-old faced 31-year-old Martina Navratilova in the final. Navratilova was the six time defending champion and had won all eight of her Wimbledon finals. Graf dropped the first set and went down an early break in the second, but Graf suddenly reeled off nine games in a row and stormed away with the match, and championship, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1.

Graf faced her good friend and fellow teenager Gabriela Sabatini in both the US Open final and gold medal match at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Sabatini pushed her in the US Open final, taking only the second set off Graf all tournament, but ultimately dropped the decisive third set 6-1. At the Olympics, she again dropped a single set before overcoming Sabatini 6-3, 6-3 to complete the most decorated season in tennis history.

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