This Peter's principles have included a low-key marketing concept for his daughter. In contrast to Steffi's childhood chum Becker, whom his manager and guru, Ion Tiriac, has lifted to international celebrity-hood, the Graf campaign has been aimed at the West German middle class. Steffi endorses Opel cars, not Mercedes: Granini fruit juices, not champagne. Herr Graf didn't renew a contract with the upscale Gerry Weber fashion line. "I don't wear those clothes," says Steffi. "They are too old for me." Nineteen Forever.
The Grafs are also phasing out of a deal with Jade, a body-product line that's a trifle yuppie for their tastes. "Style is out the window, gone, finished, anyway, isn't it?" says Ted Tinling, the 6'4", shaven-headed, earringed, near-octogenarian tennis-wear designer and historian, who has set the standard for style in his sport for a half century. "Style now is wearing the same pants as the window cleaner. One has to communicate with the masses, touch the public. I think Miss Graf is totally "today.' "
And totally West German. "Real Germans in the truest sense, both in negative and positive ways," says Helmut Sorge, a writer for the West German magazine Der Spiegel, of the Grafs. "Steffi, Peter and the family may be boring, but it is vastly appealing that they are a normal, everyday German family coping with extraordinary circumstances. They're doing a terrific job, I might add. We admire the loyalty to country, closeness of family, the consistency this girl has shown on the court, the normality in her life. Now if that first boyfriend had been a Turk...."
Meanwhile, since bolting to prominence four years ago by winning Wimbledon at the tender age of 17, Becker has fired his boyhood coach, hopped into glamorous cars and haberdashery, fallen for a Riviera Rita of a girlfriend, skipped out on his military service, transferred homes, lived on the razor's edge (though he was barely shaving age) and had the gall to lose at Wimbledon twice. Though he has fluttered back into German grace on the wings of his relationship with Hamburg's exquisite Karen Shultz, he may have to win a couple more All England titles to match Graf's popularity in the homeland.
"The attraction is the common girl reaching uncommon heights," says Sorge. "Steffi's so reliable; she's like a German sewing machine, a N�hmaschine. She probably sews her own clothes." Now wait just a minute.
In truth, appreciation for Graf extends to the highest precincts. On the occasion of her 19th birthday, Cesare Lanza, an Italian commentator for the magazine Eva, found her "too ambitious, too cruel, like a juggernaut, inhuman like a computer." A day later the West German daily Bild came rushing to Graf's defense by quoting none other than Chancellor Helmut Kohl. "Steffi is a splendid German maid," said Kohl.
When Deutschlanders discovered that the relationship between their favorite tennis maiden and her new guy, Mronz, had reached epic proportions—that is, they had dated a couple of times in Australia in January, and then he made an appearance at the Grafs' Florida retreat—the West German press went gaga. After all, this was the first man in Steffi's life other than her father, a development that has caused massive consternation throughout the country. "We remember [Claudia] Kohde-Kilsch," says one German writer. "Once Number 5 in the world. Sheltered by her father. Now she's Number 18."
Mronz obviously prospered in propinquity to Graf, taking 17th-ranked Aaron Krickstein to five sets at the Lipton International in March and winning his first tournament, a $50,000 event in Martinique, two weeks later. By the time he arrived back home to play a tournament in Munich in May, he was a celeb and possibly the first player ever to hold a press conference after losing in the qualifying round. When Mronz called home, his answering service reported 60 interview requests. Bild splashed color photographs of Alexander and Steffi across three pages and speculated in headlines: STEFFI: VERLOBUNG NOCH DIESES JAHR? ("Steffi: Will an Engagement Come Within the Year?").
"If they ask me about this subject, I have an answer for them." said Graf last month in Hamburg during the Citizen Cup tournament, which she won. "I'm going to say, "Haven't you heard? It's all set. I'm already picking out a wedding dress.' "
Stop the presses. Steffi cracks a joke. Alas, nobody asked.