Christine Brennan (USA Today) on Seles -
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old Sep 4th, 2002, 03:14 PM Thread Starter
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Smile Christine Brennan (USA Today) on Seles

Seles content with place in sport, past and present

NEW YORK — Monica Seles was in her hotel room on Labor Day, watching the U.S. Open on television, when a tennis player she once knew popped onto the screen. It was Seles herself, no longer 28 but 17 once again, playing a teenage Jennifer Capriati in the semifinals of the 1991 U.S. Open.

With incessant rain delaying the 2002 Open throughout the weekend, CBS chose to show a replay of one of the tournament's classic women's matches. And Seles, interestingly enough, chose to watch almost every point.

"One of the best matches, I think, in women's tennis," she said. "It was fun to see Jennifer and I hit the ball. It was one of the first matches that the ball was hit hard. ... We were so young and we just wanted to crush every ball out there, and that's how we were playing. No matter if it was 30-all, love-40, we were going for our shots. It was great to see that."

She watched almost all of it, until she saw herself win in three sets, now knowing that the 17-year-old girl on the screen would move into the final against Martina Navratilova and would win that, too, capturing her third Grand Slam title of the year. The only one she missed was Wimbledon, and she didn't play there that year because of shin splints.

"I was playing very well those two, three years before my stabbing," Seles said. She stopped talking for a moment. She looked like she might start to cry. But she didn't. "You know ... I guess dominating the sport at that stage."

This is why Open crowds save their warmest embrace for Seles, even to this day. They might cheer louder for others, but they treat Seles like their daughter.

It still sounds surreal, even more than nine years later: "My stabbing."

It was April 30, 1993, when a fanatical Steffi Graf fan named Guenter Parche reached out of the stands with a knife and stabbed Seles in the back, just below the left shoulder blade, during a change-over in a match in Hamburg. At the time, Seles was the No. 1 player in the world. She did not play again for two years and three months. What Parche wanted to do was make Graf the top player in the world again. At that, he was a complete success.

Seles won eight Grand Slam titles before she was stabbed. She has won one, the 1996 Australian Open, since.

Sadly, it has become easy to overlook Seles these days as the Williams sisters, with occasional accomplice Jennifer Capriati, steamroll their way through the Grand Slam events of women's tennis. But there was no forgetting Seles before 1993 — and that was the Monica Seles who was on the screen the other day in that New York hotel room.

Someone asked Seles if it was an out-of-body experience, seeing herself in what amounts to a tennis lifetime ago.

"Not at all. I haven't seen tapes of my previous matches. It's not something I like to do. ... For me it's too hard. But it was fun to see that, just to see even my dad's reaction to certain points which, you know, at that stage during a match you never realize. I've never seen the tape of that match, so it just brought back some great memories."

She mentioned her father, Karolj, who coached her from her first days of hitting a tennis ball in a parking lot in her native Yugoslavia to the No. 1 ranking in the world. He now is gone, having died of cancer in May 1998.

There is nothing spectators at this U.S. Open would enjoy more on the women's side of the draw than one more march by Seles to one more Grand Slam title. On Tuesday, she easily defeated Martina Hingis, who recently returned from ankle surgery. Seles, the sixth seed, next plays No. 2 Venus Williams in the quarterfinals.

The fans might want to will her to another title, but to Seles, it's not a great priority.

"I really never played tennis for winning the Grand Slam or to be No. 1," she said. "Maybe it was a very naive thought, I don't know. But truly it's really not the driving force in me today. I love to play tennis ... just really hitting the ball. That's it."

It would be so easy for her to be bitter about her sport, but she isn't. What Seles might have become on the tennis court, we will never know. But she is more than content in knowing who she is.

"I'm just going to play competitively as long as I enjoy it, as long as my body lets me play it," she said. "But I do know one thing: that I'll play tennis forever, really. It's a sport for me that I love."

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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old Sep 4th, 2002, 05:35 PM
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Great Article thanx


Johanna Konta, Naomi Broady, Tara Moore, Heather Watson , Laura Robson

Eleanor Dean, Katy DunneKatie Boulter, Sam Murray

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old Sep 6th, 2002, 04:26 AM
I'm so current, I'm tomorrow.
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Great article, sorry took me so long to read it - thanks for posting it!
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old Sep 6th, 2002, 06:45 AM
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I am glad Monica felt good memories when she saw her dad's reaction, when she made a great point.

I would love for Monica to commentate or coach the Women's Fed Cup team one day.

Only after the last tree has been cut down
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten. "Cree Native American Prophecy"
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