Graf 'Trying To Unlearn Tennis' Ahead Of Marquee Pickleball Debut In Florida

Graf 'Trying To Unlearn Tennis' Ahead Of Marquee Pickleball Debut In Florida

by Nurein Ahmed

The buzz surrounding the second edition of the Pickleball Slam has been palpable, and WTA legend Steffi Graf recently discussed her upcoming debut of the paddle sport.

Graf, a 22-time Grand Slam champion, is considered among the greatest tennis players in history. But like several tennis pros of the past, she is set to try her hands on the fastest-growing sport in the United States - pickleball.

The Pickleball Slam 2 will take place at the Hardrock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, on Sunday, February 4th, 2024. Graf is set to team up with her husband and former ATP player Andre Agassi to face the duo of John McEnroe and Maria Sharapova, who are tennis icons.

And ahead of her grand appearance at the Pickleball Slam 2, she has spoken of the difficulty of transitioning to a multisport athlete. Graf talked to Sports Illustrated, where she admitted to encountering challenges in "unlearning" tennis and having to instill a mindset of patience.

"Goodness, I’m still trying to unlearn (tennis). I have not had an easy time. I want to move around. I want to hit the ball. I don’t want to slow down and be patient, waiting for the right moment to attack."

"I tend to want to keep my feet moving. That’s what I learned in tennis. My mind knows what I should be doing, but my body is not quite ready to let that tennis mind go."

Graf built her career on standout pillars like consistency, mental toughness, and flair. She held the World No. 1 ranking for 377 weeks, which is a record on the women's tour.

While she has never lacked that competitive edge during her tennis career, she explains that she wants to enjoy her time on the pickleball court instead of channeling that competitiveness.

"I have a bit of a hard time getting back into that (competitive) mode. I want to enjoy it. I love the challenge of it. I do like the competition, but I also don’t want to get too competitive."


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