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Rewind: Germany's Tennis Goddesses

This week, Andrea Petkovic becomes the sixth German woman to rank inside the Top 10. Who were the others?

Published August 07, 2011 07:17

Rewind: Germany's Tennis Goddesses
Bettina Bunge, Claudia Kohde-Kilsch, Steffi Graf, Anke Huber, Sylvia Hanika
On Monday, August 8, Andrea Petkovic becomes the sixth German woman to crack the Top 10 since the inception of computerized rankings in 1975. Although Steffi Graf is considered by many to be the greatest woman player of all time, it has been more than a decade since Germany last held down a spot on the elite list - Anke Huber featuring at No.10 in October 2000.

Here's a look at Petkovic's Top 10 predecessors:

<< Sylvia Hanika: This lefty with fierce topspin strokes - and an aptitude for skiing, rally car driving and soccer - peaked at No.5 in September 1983. She won the WTA's Most Improved Player Award in 1979, the year she was runner-up to Tracy Austin at the Italian Open and moved from No.35 to No.16. Hanika recorded her best Grand Slam result at the 1981 French Open, reaching the final against Hana Mandlikova; during her career she won four WTA singles titles from 18 finals, including the 1982 Avon Series Championships at Madison Square Garden, where she beat Martina Navratilova in the final. In 1987 she upset Chris Evert in the first round of the Virginia Slims Championships in New York - her first win over the American in 15 attempts - before falling to Graf in the semis. She retired from the tour in 1990.

<< Bettina Bunge: Born in Switzerland to German parents and mostly raised in Peru - she won that country's national championship at the age of 13 - Bunge peaked at No.6 in March 1983. Her athletic, stylish play took her to four WTA singles titles, three of them in 1982, including Houston, Tokyo and on home soil at the German Open in Berlin. Bunge also enjoyed her best result at a major in 1982; at the age of 19 she made the semis of Wimbledon, falling to eventual champion Navratilova. Thereafter she struggled with injuries, falling out of the Top 20 for two years in 1984 and 1985, but strong results saw her back at No.13 by the end of 1986 and earned her the WTA Comeback Player of the Year Award in 1987. However, other physical problems were to come (knee, foot ligaments) and she retired at the age of 26 in 1989.

<< Claudia Kohde-Kilsch: The winner of 26 doubles titles, 19 of them with Helena Sukova - including the US Open in 1985 and Wimbledon in 1987 - statuesque Kohde-Kilsch enjoyed a fine career in singles too, peaking at No.4 in September 1985. The winner of 10 WTA titles, starting at Toronto in 1981, she contested a further eight finals - falling to either Evert, Navratilova or Graf in six of them. A three-time Australian Open semifinalist, Kohde-Kilsch also made the last four at Roland Garros once, as well as the last eight at Flushing Meadows twice and Wimbledon once. In the 1987 Fed Cup final, Kohde-Kilsch and Graf recovered a 61 40 deficit against Evert and Shriver to clinch the trophy for West Germany; they also won Olympic bronze at Seoul in 1988. She played her last singles matches in 1994.

<< Steffi Graf: Fräulein Forehand made her Top 10 debut in 1985 and retired as the world No.3 in 1999, having spent a record 377 weeks at No.1 (186 of them consecutively) and been crowned year-end No.1 on eight occasions. Along the way she displayed excellence on all surfaces, becoming the only woman to win all four majors at least four times, compiling arguably the best rounded résumé in women's tennis history. Her 22 Grand Slam singles titles put Graf second all-time behind Margaret Court (24); in 1988 the calendar year Grand Slam was burnished with Olympic gold to become the 'Golden Slam'. Although injuries got in the way later on, Graf won at least seven titles a year 11 years in a row, and at least one title a year across a span of 14 years, for a total of 107. She finished with a 900-115 win-loss record.

<< Anke Huber:
Huber won her first WTA singles title as a 15-year-old qualifier at Schenectady in 1990; by the end of that year she was ranked No.34. Although destined to remain winless against Graf in 10 career meetings, she handled the pressure to be 'the next Steffi' with considerable class, reaching 23 finals - including the Australian Open in 1995, falling to Monica Seles - and winning 12 titles. In 1991, in the final at Filderstadt, Huber handed Navratilova her first loss to an unseeded player in eight years; in other notable results, Graf was her conqueror in the semis at Roland Garros in 1993 and in a five set final at the Tour Championships in 1995, while Martina Hingis stopped her in a three set semi at the Australian Open in 1998. She retired from the tour at the end of the 2001 season, having risen as high as No.4 in October 1996.


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