Originally Posted by Calimero377
I agree, Seles was one of the greatest players of the 90ies.
But we must not forget that tennis history was also a victim because we will never know just how the Slam records of Graf, Seles, Hingis, Williamses and Davenport would have progressed had there not been the Graf blackmail scandal of 90/91 and Graf's knee surgery in 1997.
No Cali, bring yourself to say it. Now slowly, slowly. Bit by bit. You'll get there!
Monica Seles was one of the greatest players of all time. I can only think of a few I would rate above her based on their achievements. Like you, I recognise that greatness cannot be judged on what might/should have been.
Graf, Navratilova, Evert, Court, King, Wills Moody, Lenglen. That puts her as 9th in my list...unless somebody can mention somebody else I've momentarily forgotten?(Marble, Gibson, Bueno, Brough - I don't think they even won as many slams as Seles, did they? Let alone dominate? Correct me if I'm wrong).
I'd put her above Maureen Connolly because she returned to the game, won a slam and came close on several more occasions. She beat both the Williams', Davenport, Hingis and the Belgians before she was forced to "all but retire" despite struggling to attain anywhere near the form she showed pre-stabbing.
If we put Connolly above Seles, then we disregard all that Seles achieved when she returned. We'd be saying, in effect, that Seles would have been a greater player if she had not returned from being forced out of the game.
When you look at the way the game is today, you really start to understand just how much credit Seles deserves for what she did achieve from 1995 onwards. The Williams' aren't a shadow of the force they were, and injuries really have taken their toll. They have struggled being away from the game for even 6 months.
But let's look at Hingis, because I think Hingis and Seles are more comparable. Hingis and Seles were both not what you would have called natural athletes; their success came from their ball skills, vastly differing though their respective deftness was. Seles could clean the lines better than the ball kids, while Hingis could have exhausted the poor things to death. Yet having not been blessed with the athletic gifts of Graf or Navratilova, both Hingis and Seles found athletic training less natural, more of a challenge. Returning to the rigours of an athletic sport after 2 1/2 years presented their bodies and minds with huge questions.
While Hingis wasn't even a shadow of her former self and completely unable to compete with average tour professionals, Seles came storming back with the loss of a handful of games. So while I think Seles' "greatness" emanates 90% from her slams, I think her success after returning from such a long absence is certainly something that bolsters her resume. Far from tarnishing her reputation, I think it adds to it.
And as a stabbing in the back on a tennis court was something that was unthinkable (and still is, otherwise we'd accept the course of history after all these years), and Seles was the victim for nothing more than her success, then I think her staying away from the sport for longer than the 9 months-1 year that it took to physically recover deserves the benefit of the doubt, if indeed you have any at all about her reasons for staying away.
Seles, like any great champion, Graf included, saw tennis as a way of blocking out all the depressive thoughts and negative emotions that come as part of life. It was her zone, where there was just her and the ball. Her success, understandably for a 19 year-old who had known nothing but, raised her self-esteem, and therefore her self-esteem depended on her success - and her ability to play the game, feeling safe in that very zone.
Parche destroyed that, so for those few like Cali who say that she was a drama queen, I say that they must put it into a tennis context. Sure many others are stabbed on the streets and they have to get over it, although who's to say they would have the same level of motivation afterwards? But that's not the point. The point is that the knifing of Monica Seles, which I must add was attempted murder, was done in the zone where she achieved most of her success. The association of tennis with safety, strength, stamina and whatever else she derived from winning, was severed quite cruelly to say the least. So I think it's totally understandable that she did not want to return to the court in January 1994, when Parche was still at large awaiting trial.
One last thing. For those who say that Seles would never have won Wimbledon, well they may be right - but there is more evidence to the contrary. There are two assumptions: one that she would not have won, one that she would have done. So let's look at the facts.
In 1989 as a 15 year-old, Seles reached round 4. Not bad really? Okay, she was drubbed by Graf, but so was a 16 year-old Graf by Navratilova in 1985, at the same stage. Meanwhile in 1990 Seles reached the quarter-finals at 16, losing a marathon to Zina Garrison.
Graf never played Wimbledon as a 17 year-old, so we shall never know. But at that stage there was no reason to think grass was Graf's favourite surface, and she'd just lost to Mandlikova (the Wimbledon finalist that year) on clay. So I don't think Graf at 17 was any better than Seles on grass at the same age. And furthermore, Seles came closer to beating Zina in 1990 than Steffi did in the next round.
In 1991 Seles did not play Wimbledon, and once again we will never know. But if she could reach the final a year later and win the Chase Championships on a fast surface over none less than Martina Navratilova, then I don't see why she would not have been in the latter rounds in 1991. Maybe even the winner? 1991 was Graf's worst year until 1997 when she was injured, and she struggled to beat Sabatini. Capriati defeated Martina that year, and Seles was a more effective baseliner than a 15 year-old Jennifer.
So then we come to 1992. She lost fair and square to Steffi. I've no doubt the grunting incident didn't help, but that's simply a lapse of focus from Seles and she must be judged on that. She lost and was outplayed. For this reason, the "Steffi lost in 1990 because her parents were having trouble" doesn't wash either. Seles' father DIED in 1998, and she played possibly her best tennis after the comeback.
But my point in Monica's favour is that she was just 18. How old was Steffi in her first Wimbledon final when she lost in straight sets, without distractions from the media, to Martina Navratilova?
So, an 18 year-old Seles was at roughly the same stage that Steffi was at around the same age. In fact, her resume said 1 QF, 1R4 and 1RU. Graf's said 1R4, 1RU. Both had missed one Wimbledon. So whose grass record was better at 18? Monica's!!
So why this assumption that she would never have Wimbledon? We can see that her game struggled most on that surface, but the evidence is quite to the contrary. She was increasing her confidence on the surface steadily, having unparalled success on fast carpet courts (winning 3 WTA Championship titles in a row 90-92), while physically by 1993 she was a few inches taller, serving more aces, faster, and visibly stronger.
Her complex with grass came after her return, and possibly after losing to Studenikova. That's her own fault, of course, but it does not mean that Seles of 1993-1995 would have struggled in the same way had she been able to play. I've have shown quite the opposite. And as Wimbledon champion in 1995, would she have been ready to lose in round 2 (28 lbs overweight!) the following year?
While the stabbing was a cruel fact of life and cannot give Seles an exemption from all the losses she suffered after her return to the tour, when you look at the above paragraph, the interruption and re-direction of her career that it caused is surely undeniable.