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WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

"The mental toughness puts (Graf) right up there with the Michael Jordans, the Wayne Gretzkys and the John Elways.

"It's a great loss for women's tennis, but I love the fact that she's doing it on her terms."

_ TRACY AUSTIN

Former U.S. Open champion

"Chris Evert might have been steadier, Martina Navratilova might have been a stronger, more versatile athlete, but Graf brought to bear a combination of intensity and quickness even they couldn't match."

_ STEVE WILSTEIN

Associated Press tennis writer

"She never even waved goodbye. Earlier this summer Steffi Graf stepped off the court at Wimbledon, the tournament that will now go down as her final Grand Slam, without any fanfare. Graf said she didn't want to upstage Lindsay Davenport, who had just won, so instead of sentiment, Graf left with just a smile. And then Friday, she simply left."

_ RACHEL ALEXANDER

Washington Post tennis writer

"If it hadn't been for her perpetual ailments, who knows how many more titles Graf would have won? Graf excelled on all surfaces _ clay, hard courts, grass and indoor carpet.

"Others may have hit the ball harder, served faster or volleyed better, but Graf didn't need to change."

_ STEPHEN WILSON

Associated Press

"When you're at the top, it is not easy to maintain it. She had an unbelievable career, did it with a lot of class. She made the racket do the talking. I have always looked up to her the way she approached the game."

_ PETE SAMPRAS

Men's top-ranked player

"What I thought was really great was the older she got and the more she was winning, probably in the mid-'90s, the happier it seemed to make her. When she was playing in the '80s and just dominating, she never looked that happy and I think she really learned to appreciate the game the older she got and more she played."

_ LINDSAY DAVENPORT

Woman who beat Graf in '99

Wimbledon final

"(Graf's retirement) gives me goose bumps. Also knowing I will never have the privilege of playing against her makes me sad. Steffi Graf was always my measure of greatness."

_ ALEXANDRA STEVENSON

1999 Wimbledon semifinalist

"Graf's motivational forces were internal, not external. She never longed for the sort of rivalry shared by Navratilova and Evert because her main opponent was always herself. Perfection was her goal in every match."

_ ROBIN FINN

New York Times tennis writer

"Steffi is the all-time greatest singles player."

_ BILLIE JEAN KING

Six-time Wimbledon champion

"She's been a great player, a great champion, a good person and a friend. No one can replace Steffi. It's kind of hard to think she isn't going to be there anymore."

_ ARANTXA SANCHEZ VICARIO

Rival who was 2-5 against

Graf in Grand Slam finals

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