Heidi shook her head, fairly snickering. "Christmas," she said.
Steffi purports to be interested in history and museums—"old airplanes, old cars, old bones, things you get out of the ground," she says. "I saw a Picasso at the Louvre and studied everything about that picture."
She reads Hemingway and Stephen King and has become intrigued with a West German author, Patrick S�skind, because of his No. 1 bestseller in her country, Perfume. A movie buff, she can discuss Mississippi Burning as if she were aware of the early '60s, not to mention alive then. Out on the circuit she plays a lot of a card game called Doppel Kopf with Peter and Slozil. "You can go crazy and get real mad at each other in this game." says Steffi.
She also occasionally hits some sociology, government and physics schoolbooks, although, she says, "Physics is the book I like least to put in my hand." For a couple of years Graf traveled with a tutor, but she is several years away from coping with the Abitur, the exam that West Germans must pass to move on to college. She insists she wants to obtain a diploma. Peter doubts she ever will.
Dress Graf in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt (preferably black, her color of the moment), put her behind the wheel of a fast car, point her toward a Big Mac or an Italian restaurant or a pastry shop, give her a Walkman blasting rock music through her brain, and what you have is Every-girl. "It is not amusing to read about how I live only for tennis." she says. "I have so many other interests. I train for tennis four hours a day, and during a tournament, I practice and play my match. Then that is it. I'd go crazy if I didn't have other things. Only tennis? This is not possible."
Upon arrival at a tournament, says Slozil, the first thing Graf does is check out the rock-concert schedule in the area. She has dragged him to the performances of George Michael in London. Tina Turner in New York City, Kool and the Gang in West Germany, Noiseworks in Australia and Was (Not Was) in Paris. Time and again in interviews Slozil, a native of Prague, has described how much harder he has had to work since leaving the men's tour to coach Graf. In addition, he says. "I've never heard so much music in my life. Steffi didn't use to like to dance in front of people. But after a disco night in Paris with Was (Not Was), she was completely soaked."
Tournament victories in Hamburg and Berlin immediately preceded Graf's doomed assault on this year's French Open. However, the high points of her return home from abroad this spring were when the Bee Gees greeted her at their gig in Hamburg and when she delayed her trip to Paris to catch her favorite group, the British band Simply Red, in Mannheim.
A few weeks earlier, on one crystalline afternoon in April, Graf went shopping in Mannheim and visited relatives in Heidelberg, making the rounds like any other girl home from college for a weekend. (If she had not learned to keep a tennis ball in play for 45 minutes straight when she was six, Steffi says she would "probably be studying something creative, maybe majoring in art.") That evening at the Eberthalle in Ludwigshafen, Graf emitted more squeals watching Stevie Wonder than she has in any six months of tennis tournaments. When Wonder electronically induced his voice to a high pitch and suddenly sounded like the 12-year-old prodigy who sang Fingertips, Graf seemed familiar with a song popular seven years before she was born.
"I am such a fan of music," she said later while driving her—what else?—Opel home with Michael at approximately the speed of sound. "Meeting these people is interesting because they are never as you expect after reading about them. It's like my own stories. If I believed everything I read about myself, I wouldn't know me. I met Michael Jackson in Marbella, Spain. Sure, he is quiet and shy but fairly normal, not bizarre. He took pictures with me just before his show, and I asked him how he can do all this and then concentrate to go out onstage. He just seemed to get very loose, or something. He said, 'I love what I do. Everything else gets blanked out.' "
Given Graf's intimidating concentration on court, this was mountain-to-Muhammad stuff. But the celebrity who has most impressed her has not been a pop singer. " Max Schmeling," she says. "That was the best. He was such an idol for us Germans, even if I'm not of his generation. I was at his house once, and we were very simpatico with each other. He follows my career. He gave me good advice. He said to stay the way I am."