Agassi and kids keep Steffi busy at 40

June 10th, 2009 - 5:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Rafael Nadal Hamburg, June 10 (DPA) There were no major celebrations when Steffi Graf turned 40 Sunday as the tennis star feels that the number means “unbelievably little” to her.
“Birthdays are of no major importance in our family. I am not interested in gifts, it is much more important to me to be together with all the others. I am happy when my family is fine,” Graf told DPA.

Graf and her husband Andre Agassi, together with their children Jaden Gil, 7, and Jaz Elle, 5, have been living a perfect family life in their Las Vegas home.

“The family is the centre of my life. Some people have asked how this can be possible in Las Vegas? All I can say is that it works, and I am very happy about it,” she said.

The main work after their illustrious tennis careers centres on their charities, with Graf’s Children For Tomorrow project taking her around the world in an effort to help traumatised children.

Returning to tennis is rare, but Graf and Agassi did appear on court last month when the new Wimbledon Centre Court with its movable roof was unveiled.

They were also on hand last weekend to present the French Open singles trophies in Paris, 10 years after they both won the Roland Garros crown.

“I was never really fond of major public appearances,” says Graf.

Graf said the family life doesn’t allow her dwell on the past, but that she does have memories on certain occasions like the recent date at Wimbledon where she played her last official career match, losing the 1999 final to Lindsay Davenport.

“I have the feeling that my tennis career is way in the past. Our day at Wimbledon was like a journey into the past.

“When my husband and I walked onto Centre Court, a lot of memories surfaced. And then you start playing and simply can’t imagine that your last match there was 10 years ago,” said said.

Looking at the state of the game today, Graf says that she is “lost for words” when she watches men’s world number one Rafael Nadal, who according to her is “an unbelievable athlete”.

Off the court, Graf shares the concerns of many others about the world economic crisis, and like others has high hopes in US President Barack Obama.

“He can bring people together. This is what we all hope for and need. He stands for stability and communication. But he faces many challenges in a world which is in great difficulties,” said Graf.

Graf had her own hardships during her career, ranging from injuries to the tax evasion affair around her father Peter Graf.

She says there are always things she could have done differently, but that she is “so happy right now that there is no reason to regret about matters of the past.

“I can look back at the first 40 years with a lot of joy. Most of all I am happy about my family. I am proud about my two children and my husband. And I had a great career. I couldn’t have wished for anything better,” Graf said.

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