Lausanne, 6 December 1999 - Tennis champion Steffi Graf today received the Olympic Order from the IOC President during an official ceremony held at the Olympic Museum. Various personnalities from the IOC and the sporting world were present including Mr. Walther Tröger, president of the German Olympic Committee; Mr. Thomas Bach, former Olympic champion and member of the IOC; Mrs. Anita DeFrantz, vice-president of the IOC; Mr. Marc Hodler, member of the IOC and Mr. Ricci Bitti Francesco, president of the International Federation of Tennis.
The IOC President said he was particularly proud to award the highest olympic distinction to one of the leading sport figures of the century and to thank the queen of tennis for her outstanding career and contributions to the sporting world.
Having begun her career when she was four years old, Ms Graf, who announced earlier this year that she was retiring from competition, is the only person to have won all four Grand Slam single crowns in the 1990s. She also was a strong supporter of tennis’ return in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984. She later proved to be a major Olympic champion winning two medals - one gold in Seoul in 1988 and one silver in Barcelona in 1992.
Steffi Graf said she was honored to receive such a prestigious distinction and pointed out that among all the awards she had received lately, the Olympic Order meant a lot to her as she considers the Olympic Games to represent the fundamentals of sport.
The Olympic Order is awarded to recognize an individual who has illustrated the Olympic ideal through his/her action, has achieved remarkable merit in the sporting world, or has rendered outstanding services to the Olympic cause, either through his own personal achievement or his contribution to the development of sport. Nominations are proposed by the Olympic Orders Council and decided upon by the Executive Board. Among the personalities that received the Olympic Order are Fanny Blankers-Koen, Jean Borotra, Jean-Claude Killy, Bertrand Piccard, Jesse Owens, Alberto Tomba, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Mr. Nelson Mandela.