Scotland Wales Northern Ireland
BBC Homepage feedback | low graphics version
BBC Sport Online
You are in: Tennis  
Front Page 
Rugby Union 
Rugby League 
Other Sports 
Sports Talk 
In Depth 
Photo Galleries 
TV & Radio 
BBC Pundits 
Question of Sport 
Funny Old Game 

Around The Uk

BBC News

BBC Weather

Thursday, 12 April, 2001, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
Don't call me Steffi
Andre Agassi and girlfriend Stefanie Graf share a moment over the net
The tennis player formerly known as Steffi
She has changed her job, her boyfriend and moved to another country.

Now the former tennis star known to millions as simply Steffi, wants to change her name.

The 31-year-old German who dominated women's tennis for ten years during the 1980s and 90s says she is tired of the nickname.

Christened Stefanie Maria Graf and dubbed "Fraulein Forehand" during her heyday, she says she does not feel like "Steffi" anymore and would prefer being called "Stefanie".

Steffi playing at her favourite Grand Slam venue, Wimbledon, just before she retired in 1999
When she was Steffi
"I like the name better," she said in an interview with a German newspaper, Handelsblatt.

Like pop singer Debbie Harry, who insisted on the longer version of her name, Deborah, when she entered her 30s, Graf wants a more mature image to match her business aspirations.

Retired from the tennis circuit since 1999, Graf now runs a marketing and events company.

The firm previously known as "Steffi Graf Sport GmbH" was relaunched "Stefanie Graf Marketing GmbH & Co KG" almost nine months ago.

But it is only now that Graf, who won 22 Grand Slam singles titles and spent a record 378 weeks ranked number one, is putting her foot down.

Steffi Graf with her partner, US tennis star Andre Agassi
She may yet become Mrs Andre Agassi
"My company will be involved more in marketing in general than in just sport," Graf said.

"Naturally we talked about the recognition value of the name during our discussions of building up a brand name because most people know me as Steffi.

"But we made a conscious decision for Stefanie."

Graf's official website remains accessible through both names: and

But once you get to the site, it is Stefanie which dominates.

Still, she has not gone quite so far as pop star Prince, who changed his name in a fit of artistic whim to a symbol and is now known as the Artist Formerly Known As Prince.

Graf, who is the only tennis player to have completed the Golden Slam of all four major titles plus Olympic Gold in one year, retired abruptly in 1999 just weeks after winning the French Open.

Steffi Graf shows off her Olympic Gold medal won in 1988, the year she won the Golden Slam of all four major tournaments as well as the Seoul Games
Golden Girl: Undefeated number one between 1987 and 1991
Shortly afterwards she split up with her longtime boyfriend and immediately began a relationship with American tennis star Andre Agassi.

Graf has a strained relationship with German media, in part because of her irritation at the coverage of her father's tax evasion trial and subsequent conviction.

She has spent much of the last two years living in the United States.

"I like coming back to Germany (for visits)," she said. "My roots are here.

"And apparently people are still well informed about me (but) I'm looking forward to moving into our new house in San Francisco."

Whether there are any plans for more name changes - in the form of Mrs Andre Agassi - remains to be seen.

Search BBC Sport Online
Advanced search options
See also:

31 Aug 00 |  Man Utd
Cole's name-change gamble
27 Feb 01 |  Tennis
Hingis does not match up
14 Feb 01 |  Funny Old Game
Valentine's Day love matches
22 Feb 00 |  Tennis
Game, set and love-match
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to top Tennis stories are at the foot of the page.

Links to other Tennis stories

^^ Back to top