Celebrity Q+A: Steffi Graf
She has 22 Grand Slam titles and three Olympic medals, but off the court 40-year-old tennis star Steffi Graf would rather score no points—just love from husband Andre Agassi, son Jaden, 8, and daughter Jaz, 6.
With two tennis pros as parents, your kids must be growing up with rackets in their hands. You'd think so, but no. Jazzy plays a little, and Jaden prefers baseball. We're an active family, though, always throwing around a ball or organizing a quick game of soccer in the backyard.
What have you taught them about the importance of good sportsmanship?
We're in the middle of that lesson now with Jaden. He never showed a competitive spirit until recently, when his baseball team lost in the final round of a tournament. We explained that it's normal to feel upset, but he has to take it in stride, congratulate the winning team, and practice harder.
Is it true that Family Circle holds a special place in your heart?
Absolutely. At 15, I played in the Family Circle Tennis Cup for the first time against legends I admired so much—like Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova—and I won the Cup! It was a real milestone for me. I got a standing ovation from the crowd, which helped me realize I could make it to the top.
You and Andre grew up with demanding dads who were also your coaches. Does that affect your parenting style?
Our dads taught us the value of discipline, and we've instilled that in our kids. But we're not as strict. If they want ice cream, they get it!
Do Jaden and Jaz share any traits with Mom or Dad?
They're creative and they love art and music, like we do. But Jazzy can stick with one thing for a longer period of time, like I can, whereas Jaden needs constant action, like Andre.
What's your proudest Mom moment?
Jaden once hit his head on a table, and Jazzy immediately got a bag of ice and held it on his injury. It was sweet to see her show concern for him.
You live in Andre's hometown of Las Vegas. What are some of your favorite things to do?
We hike at Red Rock Canyon or picnic with friends. In winter we go skiing at Mount Charleston, which is less than an hour away. I've actually grown to love Vegas. There are few cities in the world where a person can see Elton John and Paul McCartney live, watch a boxing match, and go to The Lion King in the same week.
How do you teach the kids about your German culture?
I speak German, and they understand it, even if they're not fluent themselves. And every summer we visit my family in Germany. They love seeing their cousins and touring castles—that's their favorite part of the trip.
How often do you and Andre sneak away for date nights?
We try to get to a bar or restaurant for a few hours of adult conversation once a week. We really are best friends. But we often find ourselves rushing to get back home before the kids go to bed so we can kiss them good night.
Recent reads: Apart from children's books? Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. But I mostly read Amelia Bedelia with Jazzy.
Family tunes: We like everything from Queen to U2, as well as Lady Gaga. Jaden plays the guitar and piano, and Jazzy takes piano lessons too.
Favorite family vacation: Costa Rica. We've been twice and have great memories of being alongside animals in the jungle. We love the outdoors.
My perfect day: Grilling steaks and veggies while the kids jump on the trampoline and play with our German shepherd, Nandor.
Originally published in the April 1, 2010, issue of Family Circle magazine.