Just being back at Wimbledon was enough to bring Steffi Graf to tears.
A year ago, the seven-time champion was in rehabilitation after reconstructive knee surgery. Two months ago, her comeback threatened by more injuries, she considered retirement.So on Monday, after winning her first-round match in straight sets on Centre Court, Graf was overcome by emotion. Twice during a news conference, she broke down crying.
"I get emotional because I don't take it for granted being here," said the German, playing her 13th Wimbledon. "It's just special to be here."
After a rain-free opening day, the start of today's play was delayed by light showers. All courts remained covered as the morning turned to afternoon.
While tournament officials were hopeful of a break in the weather, more rain was forecast for later in the day and again Wednesday.
Graf's tears represented a remarkable display from a player who has rarely expressed her emotions on or off the court.
She said she was surprised to be on Centre Court, the scene of her greatest triumphs, for the opening match against Spain's Gala Leon Garcia.
"It is not common to play the first match on Centre Court unless you win the year before, so I didn't take it as normal at all," she said. "I got really excited, and it definitely pumped me up to be playing out there."
After some initial nerves, Graf settled down and beat Garcia 6-4, 6-1, a solid start to her first Grand Slam tournament since the French Open in 1997.
After undergoing surgery after the French, Graf didn't return to tournament play until March. But she was sidelined again with calf and hamstring injuries.
That's when she started wondering whether her career was over.
"There have been a couple of occasions where it has been really difficult, seven or eight weeks ago was the last time," she said. "I had so many little injuries, and every week something else came around."