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Sunday, July 4, 1999 Published at 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK

Sport: Tennis

Graf bows out of Wimbledon

Steffi Graf in action during her last match on Centre Court

Steffi Graf has announced that her final defeat against Lindsay Davenport was her last appearance as a player at Wimbledon.

The German lost 6-4 7-5 to the American in a match which could have given her an eighth Wimbledon title.

"I will not be coming back to Wimbledon as a player," the 30-year-old said.

"I decided before the match, the result would not have made any difference."

Graf won her first title at the All England Club in 1988.

"Right now I feel a little bit sad about everything but I still feel like a winner going out of this tournament," she added after the defeat.

"It has been a lot of fun but there has to be a certain time when you move on in your life."

[ image: Davenport: No nerves but no evening dress]
Davenport: No nerves but no evening dress
After winning the French Open last month, Graf announced she would no longer play at Roland Garros.

The German has suffered persistent knee and back problems, and only returned to competition this February after an eight-month lay-off.

Graf has also suffered tribulations over her father Peter's private life and tax affairs.

She said she had resisted the temptation for a prolonged goodbye after her defeat today so as not to spoil Davenport's moment.

"I felt it was her day and I wanted to keep it that way," she said, refusing to discuss whether she would play other tournaments on the tour.

It has been widely speculated that Graf wants to start a family with German racing driver Michael Bartels.


Davenport was also pleased to have played a part in history at Wimbledon.

"It's pretty special," said the new champion of her role in Graf's last Centre Court appearance.

The world no 1 described her win as an "amazing feeling" even if she had not taken it all in.

"It probably won't sink in until I come back next year as the defending champion and play the Tuesday two o'clock match," she explained.

[ image: Graf announced the end of her Roland Garros career after last month's win there]
Graf announced the end of her Roland Garros career after last month's win there
Ice-cool Davenport admitted to being less nervous during the battle with Graf than than she had been for her semi-final with qualifier Alexandra Stevenson.

"The rain delay helped me a lot in the second set," she explained.

"I calmed down a little bit, looked at the scoreboard and thought: 'Gosh I'm so close to winning this. I can do this.'

"When you're on the court always playing it goes by fast and you don't always have that time to sit and think.

"I broke serve to go up 6-5 and I surprised myself that I was so calm about it."

Dress dilemma

As Davenport headed to Court One to win the women's doubles she revealed that she was short of suitable attire for Sunday night's Champions' Dinner.

"When I was packing to leave I was running a little late and my mum asked 'do you need a dress?'.

"I said 'I don't know' and she goes 'you can buy it Sunday if you win'.

"Now of course it's Sunday afternoon. Hopefully I'll find something."

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