After some 112 years, 'Reuters' reported in 2009, the high-profile German Open women's tennis clay-court tournament would be canceled from the international tennis calendar. First held in 1896, the traditional warm-up event for the French Open was usually played in Berlin at the Rot-Weiss Tennis Club around May of each year. The German Open was the WTA Tour Tier I event.
Steffi Graf had played in the tournament 14 times from 1984 to 1999 (except in 1995 and 1998). She reached the singles final 11 times, winning 9 times. A WTA spokeswoman advised 'Reuters', "The tournament won't be on the 2009 calendar but the tournament being scrapped has nothing to do with the global credit crunch. The Qatar Tennis Federation, owner of the Berlin tournament membership, has made the decision that they no longer wish to operate the German Open in Berlin and to sell the membership back to the Tour. Negotiations are ongoing to see if another tournament will fill in the gap left on the WTA calendar for the week beginning 18 May."
At the time, the German Tennis Federation (DTB) spokesperson Oliver Quante told 'Reuters', "Scrapping the German Open would be a very big loss for the German tennis scene. We will make efforts to keep this tournament in Berlin because it would be sad to see this long-standing event die." 'Reuters' informed, "The German Open was bought by the Qatar Tennis Federation (QTF) to boost the image of the country in Europe.
"During the tournament, programs and exhibitions used to take place to promote sports tourism in Qatar. Although the deal was supposed to run until 2009, a change in administration at the QTF meant the new management team chose to end the agreement immediately." 'Reuters' was told, "The new committee … feel that all our efforts should be focussed on the two tournament we host in Doha. It has nothing to do with the global economic crisis or the falling oil prices."
'Reuters' understood, "Since most of the top professionals opt not to play competitively in the week leading up to a major, the cancellation may have been prompted by the tournament's difficulty in attracting the big names. Qatar also holds stakes in other sporting events in Europe as they have ambitions to host major events including the Olympics and the soccer World Cup."
It was at the German Open in 1986, Steffi Graf won her first of the 18 matches she played against Martina Navratilova. 'People Weekly' reported in 1986, "Not since the rise of Hana Mandlikova and the virtual disappearance of Tracy Austin and Andrea Jaeger has such a formidable challenger to Navratilova and Chris Evert exploded from the pack of also-rans in women's tennis. This week, as the grueling French Open reaches its climax on the red clay of Roland Garros Stadium, all eyes could be on Steffi, who is seeking her first major championship."
It was at the German Open in 1990, Monica Seles won her first of the 15 matches she played against Steffi Graf. When she was asked what she planned to do with her $100,000 winner's check, Monica Seles told the press, "Maybe after the French Open I'll buy a car. I'm the only one of the top players who doesn't have a car. My taste is a little exotic - I'd like a Lamborghini, but I'll settle for a red BMW."
It was at the German Open in 1997, Amanda Coetzer gave Steffi Graf the worst loss of Steffi's 15-year professional career when she defeated Steffi Graf 6-0, 6-1 in 56 minutes. Steffi Graf's only other worst loss was in 1991 at the French Open, when Arantxa Sanchez Vicario defeated Steffi 6-0, 6-2. And it was at the German Open in 1999, Steffi Graf won her 1,000th career match in a professional career spanning 17 years.
"I have a special relationship with this tournament," Steffi Graf told the press. In September 2004, a 7,000-seat stadium court built in 1996 on Gottfried von Cramm Street, was named the Steffi Graf Stadium. Bud Collins affectionately nicknamed Steffi Graf "Fraulein Forehand". Speaking to the press in 1986, then 16-year-old Steffi Graf stated, "I get enormous pleasure out of playing. I have a lot of things to improve. I would like my game to be a mixture of the styles of Navratilova and Evert. Attack as well as Martina and defend as well as Chris. That is my dream."