Mannheim, Germany (4E Sports) – Retired tennis great Steffi Graf announced that her father and mentor, Peter Graf, died Saturday of reported pancreatic cancer in Mannheim, Germany. He was 75.
“With great sadness in our hearts we want to inform you that our father Peter Graf passed away yesterday. He was a good father as well as a good grandfather. We are grieving our loss quietly with family and close friends,” Steffi said on her official website.
Steffi said the memories of good times spent with him, “especially when we were young, help us a great deal”.
“We are grateful for the sense of family he instilled in us, which we share everyday with his grandchildren. In his spirit we don’t take any day for granted,” she added.
As the coach and manager of the tennis superstar, Peter acquired the nickname Papa Merciless for his stern control of almost every aspect of her life.
Peter also became a controversial figure in tennis as he was accused several times of verbally abusing officials.
He was also accused of manipulating his daughter’s schedule to preserve her ranking and coaching her illegally from the stands.
He got into a fistfight with an American millionaire at the French Open and was accused of mismanaging the millions his daughter had won.
In 1997, Peter was convicted of failing to pay $7.3 million in taxes on his daughter’s earnings and attempting to evade another $1.8 million through a tangled scheme of shell companies and tax havens.
He served 25 months in prison while the judge exonerated Steffi Graf. The case created a strain in their relationship but according to news reports, Steffi and her father reconciled six days before he died.