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The Inside Track

Hot Corner

June 21, 2004|Larry Stewart

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here. One exception: No products will be endorsed.

What: "SportsCentury: Steffi Graf."

Where: ESPN Classic, today, 5.

No question Steffi Graf was one of the best tennis players in history. She won 107 singles titles, 22 Grand Slam titles, and spent a record 377 weeks -- a little more than seven years -- ranked No. 1. She won a Grand Slam and an Olympic gold medal in 1988.

But a lot about Graf remains unknown because she has always been such a private person. Rarely has she talked about her relationship with her father, Peter, who was sentenced to four years in prison in 1995 for tax evasion. Rarely has she talked about her relationship with her mother, Heidi. And rarely has she talked about her relationship with her husband, Andre Agassi.

But she did for this "SportsCentury" profile, which was expanded from a half hour to an hour and is airing on the opening day of Wimbledon.

Also, segments in which she discusses the Monica Seles stabbing -- by a crazed Graf fan -- will be shown on the "ESPN25: The Headlines" program Tuesday at 5 p.m. on ESPN.

The "SportsCentury" profile covers a lot of ground, beginning with Graf's youth in Germany. But the producers, as they are prone to do, rely too heavily on talking heads. What's needed is more of Graf, on and off the court. Particularly because she is fairly open.

Of her father's arrest, Graf says, "My brother meets me at the airport and he's like, 'Dad got in jail.' And I was like, 'What are you talking about?' It was such an incredible shock."

Graf also says, "For almost six years myself, there was a chance that I would even come to jail. That I couldn't believe. I felt like, yeah, I've done wrong and not paid attention to my taxes, but how would I not trust the people in my life?"

-- Larry Stewart

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