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Friday, August 13, 1999 Published at 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK

Sport: Tennis

Graf bows out

Steffi Graf powers her way to victory in the French Open

Steffi Graf has announced her immediate retirement from tennis.

She made the decision public at a news conference in her home town of Heidelberg on Friday.

The BBC's James Pearce reports: "It's at Wimbledon she will best be remembered"
"I have decided to stop playing tennis tournaments," she said.

"I have no regrets because I have the feeling I have achieved everything I could."

The 30-year-old German star won 22 Grand Slam titles in an illustrious career that also included 100 victories on the WTA Tour.

The BBC's Ian Carter: "She's been stunning the tennis world all summer"
She was only two titles short of Margaret Court's longstanding record of 24 Grand Slams.

But Graf has suffered from a series of injuries in recent seasons and it was widely rumoured she would retire at the end of the 1999 tour.

Retirement 'mistake'

In July, it was reported that she had eventually ended speculation by saying "this will be my last season", although she later denied that she had made the comment.

Graf's decision to back out of tennis with immediate effect has come as a shock to the tennis world.

[ image: Graf: Defeat in the 1999 Wimbledon final]
Graf: Defeat in the 1999 Wimbledon final
Earlier this year, she staged one of the most impressive comebacks in recent memory by beating favourite Martina Hingis of Switzerland to win the French Open.

At the time, she announced that she would not be returning to defend her title.

Graf also said she would not compete again at Wimbledon - where she has won seven times - after losing this year's singles final to American Lindsay Davenport.

She later said she had made "a mistake", fuelling hope among her legions of fans that she would soldier on for another season.

Graf, currently ranked third in the world, had reportedly hoped to sign off with a final Grand Slam attempt at the US Open in September.

But she was forced to withdraw from a minor Californian tournament in early August with a calf injury, which effectively ended her career.

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