Peter Graf offers apology to Steffi Scandal coincided with drop in ranking

June 28, 1991|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Sun Staff Correspondent

WIMBLEDON — WIMBLEDON, England -- A year later and a ranking lower, Steffi Graf received a public apology from her father, Peter, this week.

TTC The word was relayed through the German-based Stern magazine.

Peter Graf confessed for the first time he had a brief affair with a topless model and said: "Without this whole story, Steffi would still be No. 1 in the world."

Graf's drop from No. 1 to No. 2 in the world coincided with the scandal surrounding her father. Model Nicole Meissner last year accused Graf of being the father of her child. But after blood tests, a paternity suit against Graf was dropped.

"My only effort was to keep these things as far as possible away from my daughter," Peter Graf told Stern. "I did not want to make statements that would pour extra oil on the fire -- and I still don't want to.

"But with hindsight I must say my tactic did not work. Perhaps I should have spoken earlier and explained the whole affair."

* Boris Becker is ready to hand over all of his Wimbledon prize money -- and more -- to charity.

He has promised to donate $525,000 to help both a Romanian orphanage sponsored by his manager, Ion Tiriac, and the Greenpeace organization. Becker, who has called the prize money in tennis "obscene," would earn $408,000 for winning a fourth men's title.

* Why is this woman smiling?

Jill Hetherington of Canada is Wimbledon's luckiest loser. When top women's seed Monica Seles withdrew from the tournament, Hetherington received a spot in the draw. She is still hanging around, waiting to play her first-round match against her former doubles partner, Patty Fendick.

"I was checking in Friday and they told me I was playing singles," Hetherington said. "The umpire [Alan Mills] told me. I couldn't believe it. He said Seles had just withdrawn and I was the next name on the list."

Rumors abound about Seles' mysterious withdrawal. Is she pregnant? Is she burnt out? Is she pouting? Or is she merely injured, suffering from a stress fracture? The English tabloids are still having a field day with the story, but Hetherington is ignoring all the rumors and speculation. She is just waiting to play.

"I have no idea what is wrong with Monica," Hetherington said. "I just thank her for having the problem."

* Wimbledon in July?

It could happen.

Peter Jackson, Wimbledon's media subcommittee chairman, said the tournament would consider pushing its start date back a week to accommodate the players. Currently, there are only two open weeks between the end of the French Open and the start of Wimbledon.

"If the players firmly say they want to have the extra week, we have made it clear that we would be happy to move back to one week later," Jackson said.

The Women's Tennis Association and the Association of Tennis Professionals say they will consult with their members. No schedule change can be made until 1993.

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