It was hailed the greatest tennis season ever. A Golden Grand Slam, all four Majors and an Olympic gold medal in the same year. It wasn’t seen before and it hasn’t been since. Such was the magic of Steffi Graf and her incredible season of 1988. She was only 18 when she started the season and was still a teenager when she ended it with the biggest singles trophies.

On this day, September 10, she completed the Grand Slam – winning all four Majors in the same year, only the third woman to do so. She has beaten Gabriela Sabatini in the US Open final to achieve the feat. Next, she was headed to Seoul for the Olympics, a gold where would seal the German teenager’s name in history books.

On the anniversary of her US Open triumph, here’s a look at how Graf’s golden season unfolded.

Australian Open


The first step of her stunning season was her dominance in Melbourne. Graf started 1988 by winning the Australian Open. She won the tournament without dropping a set and losing only 29 games throughout the Slam. In the final, she beat Chris Evert 6–1, 7–6 without breaking a sweat, to win her second career Major at only 18 years of age.

French Open


Heading into the defence of her Roland Garros title, Graf stormed through to the final without losing a set. In the final, the German faced a player who had earlier upset Martina Navratilova earlier – 17-year-old Natasha Zvereva. What happened next was pure carnage, for the want of a better word. Graf beat Zvereva 6-0, 6-0 in just 32 minutes. This was the first double bagel in French Open final history, and the first in any Grand Slam final since 1911. Only Graf could make it look so simple.



Wimbledon was Graf’s toughest final test as yet. She finally faced Martina Navratilova in a Major final, at an event the veteran had won six straight titles before this meeting. Navratilova looked set for her seventh straight title, and Graf for her first loss. She had lost only her second set at Grand Slam that year and was trailing 7–5, 2–0. But them the German teenager summoned her insurmountable will and went on to win the match 5–7, 6–2, 6–1, dethroning the undisputed queen of Wimbledon in the process. To anyone watching this symbolic passing of the baton, it looked clear that Graf was destined for great things.

US Open


At the US Open, Graf came in with a chance to finish her Calendar Slam and duly completed it by beating Sabatini 6–3, 3–6, 6–1. Throughout the tournament, she didn’t drop a single set, till she met the Argentine – playing her first Major final. But Graf fought back and ensured that her fifth Grand Slam trophy, first US Open and record Calendar Slam was in the bag.



In 1988, tennis became an Olympic sport once again, giving Graf an unprecedented opportunity. A short break after the US Open, she went to Seoul and lost just one set on her way to the final. In the gold medal clash she met Sabatini again. But this time it was a straightforward 6-3, 6-3 win and a thus far unbreakable record.

Bonus: Did you know that in the 1988 season, Graf also won her only Grand Slam doubles title – at Wimbledon partnering Sabatini – as well as a women’s doubles Olympic bronze medal.