Steffi Graf and Monica Seles

One of the greatest rivalries of the women’s circuit was undoubtedly the acrimonious relationship between the Queen of the Courts, Germany’s Steffi Graf and the young , power-hungry ‘grunter’ from Yugoslavia, Monica Seles.

It was a rivalry that would dominate tennis throughout most of the late 1980’s and 90’s and had it not been for an over eager Graf fan trying to tip the scales in his heroines favour by stabbing Seles on-court, the rivalry would have lasted a whole lot longer and with far more intensity.

Total Brilliance & Total Dominance

For three years – 1991, 92 and 93 – these two combatants of the fairer sex won every single grand slam and although Steffi Graf won ten of their fifteen encounters overall, she had to share the six grand slam title bouts with her Nemesis.

Both players were renowned for their power games and their single-minded determination to win but they were very different tennis players. Seles was a left hander who opted for the more powerful two-fisted shot making with both her forehand and backhand and her ruthless pin-point precision was legendary.

Graf, on the other hand, wielded one of the most formidable forehands of the game, which is still considered the greatest shot in women’s tennis even by today’s rigorous standards. But she also boasted a sliced backhand that kept her opponent’s honest and one of the most penetrative serves in the women’s game.

Steffi Graf climbed right to the top of the WTA rankings as early as 1987 and remained entrenched at the top of world until 1990 when her father became embroiled in a tax scandal in Germany. This affected the young star far more than anyone imagined and she suffered a massive slump in form.

Seles Pounces

Seles, known for her aggressive nature, smelt blood and immediately began her campaign for the number one spot and by the end of 1991 she was riding the crest of the wave. Her scintillating form carried all the way through the next year and she was in the process of defining her tennis career at number one when she was stabbed in the back during a match in Hamburg in 1993.

Her enforced hiatus from the game propelled Steffi Graf back to the number one spot, where she remained until 1995!

Quick Stats

  • Grand Slam Finals – Tied 3 apiece
  • Grand Slam matches – Graf 6-4
  • All Finals – Graf 6-4
  • Clay Court record – Graf 4-3
  • Hard Court Record – Graf 2-2
  • Grass Court Record – Graf 2-0
  • Indoor Record – Graf 2-0