Seles' latest book is Food for Thought (no pun intended, honest),
I read Monica's book a few weeks ago and, after a start which was just a re-hashed version of Fear to Victory, it turned into a really compelling read, I thought. It explained so many of the things about Monica which we all used to wonder about and come up with different answers. Why does she never get into shape? Why so many coaches? Why so shy? Is she asexual?
First off, it really dismissed any of the theories people used to put forward in her defense, such as 'slow metabolism' or 'this is her natural shape' or 'she's fit and in shape - can't you see?". The book was a litany of salivation at calorific foods followed by binges.
She explained that in 2001, or 1998, when people were saying she was in better shape and 'almost there', she was in fact still 20 lbs off her pre-stabbing weight. In 1997, early 2000 and the end of 2002, she was a staggering 35-40 lbs above her weight in early 1993!!
Now, on one hand it shows what a great champion she was that she could still attain a top 6 ranking for all of her comeback (when she played a full schedule free from injuries), even carrying that much girth. It was her sharp eyes, timing and technical skill which saw her through. It's sad to think what she could have achieved though.
I've also read sections of Serena's book, although I've yet to read it in full, and she too confesses to binge eating and playing whilst completely out of shape, something her fans have denied all along.
So really, without being judgemental this time, it makes you wonder just how many more of these players have this problem. There have been times when Kuznetsova, Safina, Ivanovic, Petrova, even occasionally Kim in the past, and to an even lesser extent, Sharapova, have looked like they need to lose weight, possibly 14lbs. Groenefeld and Bartoli are both extremely flabby girls with large guts, and Capriati sometimes looked like she hadn't stopped eating all week - these are the 28lbs over, or more. Kanepi and Kleybanova would be others in that section. It's causing injuries and not helping their tennis.
But we might ask whether it's realistic for these women to always be in top shape. The tour is a lonely place, and the women are not isolated from the pressures of advertising; in fact, they are now under the spotlight, and pressurised to look glamourous. Maybe food is one of the easiest comforts? I know it's my comfort when I'm feeling low or isolated. Like Seles said, it's my best friend when I feel crap. Her book has made me examine my own eating habits!
I do think the tour needs to be honest with itself though, and support some of the players to have healthy attitudes to food in the context of a professional sport. It will improve the standard of play and not make the game look like a joke when an obviously overweight woman - by athletic standards - steps onto the court clearly far below the sort of shape she needs to be in to play her best tennis. It's not good for the image of women's tennis.
As soon as Monica was out of that lifestyle, the pounds came pouring off her. It makes me wonder why she found it so hard to get help during her years on the tour, and also just how widespread her problem might be across the other players.