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"She should know better than to say these things" - When Steffi Graf got into a spat with Martina Navratilova after the American accused her of faking injury

Martina Navratilova accused Steffi Graf of faking a knee injury during the 1996 Wimbledon Championships
Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf

Martina Navratilova once accused German legend Steffi Graf of faking an injury. The incident occurred during the 1996 Wimbledon Championships.

Graf had complained of an issue with her left knee but showed little trouble outplaying her opponent. Navratilova, therefore, accused Graf of faking the injury, stating that she could run a quarter mile at the Olympics.

The Czech-American also claimed that the knee injury was an excuse in case she lost.

"Steffi could run in the quarter mile at the Olympics. The knee injury is just an excuse ahead of time in case she needs it. If you read the newspapers you'd think she belongs in the hospital. If you look at her today she's running like a gazelle," Navratilova said.

After defeating Martina Hingis 6-1, 6-4 in the fourth round, Steffi Graf was asked about Martina Navratilova's comments. She responded by claiming that Navratilova should have known better, but then acknowledged that the nine-time Wimbledon champion had apologized to her in the locker room.

"I wish what she said was true. She's lucky she doesn't have to live with them. I think she should know better than to say these things and actually we saw each other in the locker room two days ago and she said she was sorry the way it was put," Graf said.

Steffi Graf went on to win Wimbledon in 1996, beating Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 6-3, 7-5 in the final. This was her seventh and final triumph at the grass-court Major.

The knee injury eventually caused Graf to pull out of the Atlanta Olympics later that year.

Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova played each other on 18 occasions

Steffi Graf in action at Wimbledon in 1995
Steffi Graf in action at Wimbledon in 1995

During the late 80s and early 90s, Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova forged a rivalry that is widely considered one of the fiercest in women's tennis history. The duo locked horns on 18 occasions, with the head-to-head tied at 9-9.

Their first meeting came in the semifinals of the 1985 US Open, with Navratilova winning 6-2, 6-3.

Graf and Navratilova faced one another in six Grand Slam finals, with the latter winning the first two - at the French Open and the US Open in 1987. However, the German won their next four meetings, including the two Wimbledon finals in 1988 and 1989.

Navratilova did manage to defeat Graf in their final encounter at a Grand Slam, winning 7-6(2), 6-7(6), 6-4 in the semifinals of the 1991 US Open. Their final meeting on tour came in the final of the 1994 Pan Pacific Open, with Graf winning 6-2, 6-4.

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Edited by Nihal Taraporvala
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