Steffi Graf will be closely following the performances of Elise Mertens (WTA18) and other players at the World Tennis Association (WTA) Elite Trophy, which opened on Tuesday in China.
The former champion, winner of 22 Grand Slams and World No. 1 for a total of 377 weeks (over 7 years), is in fact the WTA Elite Trophy’s ambassador for the fourth year running. Speaking at a press conference, she said she had never had the opportunity to play in China throughout her career, adding that she noticed tennis had become hugely popular there.
Tennis is a very demanding sport, physically as well as mentally, and the level of women’s tennis has intensified today, the 50-year-old German tennis icon noted, commenting that this made things very interesting. The young generation is bolder, and the best stars have a harder time staying on top for an entire season, so you never know who will win, she added.
Steffi Graf admitted her liking for the tennis of Australia’s Ashleigh Barty (WTA 1) and said she was impressed by the athletic qualities of the 15-year-old American prodigy Cori Gauff (WTA 69).
Graf, who is married to Andre Agassi, was also asked about the return of 36-year-old Kim Clijsters to the competition in 2020.
“I think it will be amusing to see,” she said. While she did not know Clijsters’ aim, her decision meant she still felt capable of performing, especially since she did it once before, in 2009, so she knows what is needed.
Clijsters has not been playing for years, since the 2012 U.S. open, and she has a family, which does not make things easy, noted Graf, adding that it will be a “big challenge” but the 36-year-old seemed happy with that.