by andrea bennett | May 10, 2014 | Watches & Jewelry
As she celebrates the 10th anniversary of her induction into the Tennis Hall of Fame, Stefanie Graf takes time to share her passions.
When she was the reigning queen of tennis, time was a constant battle for Stefanie Graf, but now she’s using it to make a difference in the world.
Perched in the Longines area of the new Hour Passion store in Las Vegas' Aria hotel, Stefanie Graf has the leisurely grace of a lady who lunches, although her presence certainly commands the respect—and sidelong glances (“Is that...? Yes, I think it is!”)—deserving of a 22-time Grand Slam titleholder, an Olympic gold medalist, and the longtime number-one female tennis player in the world. But then, she has a much different attitude toward time now than she did when, as she says, “my time was driven by tennis—practices, preparations for the matches, and the matches themselves.”
A Longines Ambassador of Elegance since 2008, Graf leads a more luxurious life than when tennis ruled her world, although luxury to her means time to focus on her kids—Jaz Elle, 10, and Jaden Gil, 12—and stump tirelessly for the global foundation for children she founded in 1998.
In fact, Graf’s outlook today—since retiring from tennis in 1999, moving to Vegas, and starting a family that is deeply involved in philanthropy—aligns perfectly with Longines’s credo that “Elegance is an attitude,” according to Walter von Känel, the company’s president. “The Longines slogan speaks to the way in which a person carries themselves and lives their life,” he explains. “Both the tennis legend and the brand focus on performance, precision, and striving for excellence. Her courage, commitment, and generosity are the perfect embodiment of the brand’s values.”
The Longines Conquest Classic.
The aim of Graf’s foundation, Children for Tomorrow, is to provide “psychological rebuilding” to children and families who have suffered the trauma of war. During a career in which she traveled the world, she says, “I saw firsthand how many children grow up in daily life marked by wars, violence, exile, and loss of family.” Her foundation reports that the number of children and adolescents forcibly displaced worldwide exceeds 20 million, and Graf felt a need to treat the unseen effects of what they’ve endured. “While their physical injuries might heal,” she says, “not visible are the mental wounds and trauma. Most suffer from depression, loss of sleep, and nightmares.”
Both Graf and husband Andre Agassi have forged a strong bond with Longines. Agassi was named an official company ambassador in 2007, and she joined him the next year not least because the brand became, she says, a true philanthropic partner. Among other initiatives, Longines and Graf host an awards program called Women Who Make a Difference, celebrating women who have had a positive impact on children’s lives. The winners receive a trip to New York for a professional photo shoot, a meeting with Graf, a donation to their cause and the opportunity to build awareness for it—plus a Longines watch. Longines also supports Agassi’s Las Vegas–based charter school foundation, which has raised more than $177 million since its founding in 1994.
So Graf wears her sporty, diamond-studded Longines Conquest Classic with pride—and with purpose. The dedicated philanthropist says she prefers to be early rather than merely on time and is “borderline obsessive” about checking her watch, a long-established trait. “My first was a Mickey Mouse watch that I won at the Goofy Junior Tournament,” she says. And although Graf has graduated to Longines, all of her watches, she adds, “carry great memories of when and where I received them.”
photography by theo wargo/wireimage (graf)