Steffi Graf says that she didn’t like being in the limelight during her career – and that gave her the necessary balance.

Since she ended her tennis career in 1999, Stefanie Graf (52) has stepped out of the public eye as much as possible. The “Vogue”, whose new cover she is currently adorning, she now reveals: “It was not a decision that I had to make, but rather corresponded to my personality.” In principle, she had little need for publicity, according to Graf.

Even during her career, her privacy was very important to her, explains Graf. It was difficult for her to feel comfortable in the limelight off the field: “I just feel more comfortable in my privacy – and concentrate on what is important to me.”

Which made her equal

Graf also reveals how she managed to keep her balance despite the high demands on her performance: while others needed stimulation, she needed rest. Museums, architecture and photography have given her the balance. Just like her family. “You long for people who are like-minded or have similar values, and you learn to recognize them. Through tennis, I’ve always been surrounded by a lot of people and have developed a pretty good knowledge of human nature.”

Graf has now been married to tennis player Andre Agassi (52) since 2001, a marriage without scandals or headlines. The two have a son and a daughter and live in Las Vegas.

How she came to her foundation

In her work, the former athlete focuses primarily on her foundation “Children for Tomorrow”, which offers therapeutic help for refugee children and young people. “Especially with children – who still have their whole lives ahead of them – you can see when they don’t play together or can’t concentrate well because they suffer from severe trauma, memory disorders or concentration problems,” reports Graf of her work.

She became aware of the topic through the Hamburg refugee ambulance and their invitation. After a visit to the outpatient clinic, she decided to get involved herself: “When you experience how afraid they [the children] are of being touched or of contact in general, especially at an age when they are actually characterized by happiness and curiosity should, then you automatically want to do something about it.”