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post #1 of 38 (permalink) Old Apr 2nd, 2003, 09:05 PM Thread Starter
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Nice article on Seles

A champion in life

Frank Deford, SI.com



She ventures how strange it is that it should have happened to her. After all, nothing like it had ever happened to anyone else in sports. She remembers the strangeness of it, the sudden pain -- or, even more, the curiosity: what exactly is going on? And then, reflexively, she turned and in the instant before he was subdued, she saw his face just as he began to raise the dagger again.

Monica Seles was only 19 when she was stabbed 10 years ago this month in Hamburg, Germany.

Were it not for that terrible, awful, crazy horror, Seles might well have become the greatest female tennis player ever. In the three years leading up to the assault, she had absolutely dominated Steffi Graf, winning eight Grand Slams to her rival's two. That, of course, is why the German lunatic named Gunther Parche stabbed her. He wanted to restore his countrywoman to preeminence.

And, in point of fact, he not only succeeded, but the German courts took more pity on his insanity than on Seles' suffering. Der Spiegel even compared Parche to Samuel of The Old Testament: "The poor man owned nothing sweeter than a lamb. Gunther Parche is even poorer than the man in the bible." Parche never served a day behind bars.

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Seles, meanwhile, took months to recuperate physically, and also suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome. And what might have been the cruelest cut of all? Her fellow players almost unanimously voted down a proposal to let her keep her No. 1 ranking. Only Gabriela Sabatini chose humanity over business. "Gabby is a human being," Monica says. "The rest -- they treated it like it was a sprained ankle or something."

When Seles finally did come back after 27 months, she was not the same great player. She struggled with her weight, which dulled her uncanny anticipation and shot-making ability. Worse, her father, her coach, whom she adored, lingered with cancer for years before he died in 1998. And yet Seles has stayed in the game, content to be an opponent, a quarterfinalist, a ghost of what might have been.

But why not, she asks. She simply loves playing. Tennis is a joy to her. That's all. I've never met a champion who is less competitive. Her trophies are in the garage, boxed up. Once -- imagine this -- she told me that her fondest recollections were of exhibitions because "everybody is on their best behavior there." Oh, sure, of course she wants to win. But she does not envision herself jumping the net. What is your tennis dream? I asked her once.

Shyly, laughing at herself, she said: "My dream is to be Suzanne Lenglen" -- the glamorous, graceful French star of the 1920s -- "to be like Suzanne, flying through the air, hitting a volley, both feet off the ground, flying."

Seles never complains, never argues, never alibis. Grace attends her. She is a bright figure of humility among foggy egos. She speaks to the new kids on tour, never forgetting that she too was once a silly, giggly little thing whom older players spurned. There is no one who does not like her a lot. No, she did not need to almost be killed, she did not need to lose her greatness to a madman's knife, to become the full, fine person that she is. But we can say that 10 years removed from hell, Monica Seles has won with a good, brave heart far more than she ever did with a tennis racket.

In her own simple words of praise, she's a human being.

Sports Illustrated senior contributing writer Frank Deford is a regular contributor to SI.com and appears each Wednesday on National Public Radio's Morning Edition. He is a longtime correspondent for HBO's Real Sports and his new novel, An American Summer (Sourcebooks Trade), is available at bookstores everywhere.
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post #2 of 38 (permalink) Old Apr 2nd, 2003, 10:24 PM
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Quote:
"Gabby is a human being," Monica says. "The rest -- they treated it like it was a sprained ankle or something."
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post #3 of 38 (permalink) Old Apr 2nd, 2003, 10:25 PM
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Nice article, it actually brought tears to my eyes.
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post #4 of 38 (permalink) Old Apr 2nd, 2003, 10:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by selesfan
Nice article, it actually brought tears to my eyes.

Here, we go again.. a REGURGITATIOn of a ten year old incident which has really been blown out of portion.

Enough already!!! Seles and Deford...what a shame.

Time to move on people.... I am getting nauseous at the twists and turns of this story. How long do they want us to weep..forever..Forgetaboutit!!!!
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post #5 of 38 (permalink) Old Apr 2nd, 2003, 11:36 PM
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nice artcile, though it's sad.

Joaco
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post #6 of 38 (permalink) Old Apr 2nd, 2003, 11:45 PM
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nice article
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post #7 of 38 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2003, 03:33 AM
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Thanks for the article. Its really nice, but its so sad

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post #8 of 38 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2003, 07:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiVaMoNiCaSeLeS
yeah, i read monica's autobiography and apparently of the top twenty five players, gaby was the only who abstained

A single flow'r he sent me, since we met./All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet - One perfect rose.
I knew the language of the floweret;/'My fragile leaves,' it said, 'his heart enclose.'
Love long has taken for his amulet/One perfect rose.
Why is it no one ever sent me yet/One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it's always just my luck to get/One perfect rose.
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post #9 of 38 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2003, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by easy
yeah, i read monica's autobiography and apparently of the top twenty five players, gaby was the only who abstained
I knew that but I'd never seen a quote from Monica saying it in such a way...
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post #10 of 38 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2003, 10:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fortis
Here, we go again.. a REGURGITATIOn of a ten year old incident which has really been blown out of portion.

Enough already!!! Seles and Deford...what a shame.

Time to move on people.... I am getting nauseous at the twists and turns of this story. How long do they want us to weep..forever..Forgetaboutit!!!!

Are you a closet obsessive Monica fan or something? Cos out of all your 108 posts almost every one of them is about Monica. And the stabbing. It's like you lurk until you see some mention on it. You need a life!
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post #11 of 38 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2003, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiVaMoNiCaSeLeS
I knew that but I'd never seen a quote from Monica saying it in such a way...
I think it are two quotes in one (never heard the human being thing either)
oh well she might have said it anyway. I had said even worse things (if I had been monica)

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the desert of the truth
To the river so deep
We all end in the ocean
We all start in the streams
We're all carried along
By the river of dreams
In the middle of the night
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post #12 of 38 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2003, 10:33 AM
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anyway i think the wta made the right decision in the end
they let someone else be no. 1 during that period
and when monica came backed she was allowed to be co-ranked no. 1

A single flow'r he sent me, since we met./All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet - One perfect rose.
I knew the language of the floweret;/'My fragile leaves,' it said, 'his heart enclose.'
Love long has taken for his amulet/One perfect rose.
Why is it no one ever sent me yet/One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it's always just my luck to get/One perfect rose.
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post #13 of 38 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2003, 11:56 AM
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Great article , but so sad

Good Luck to:
Marta Domachowska, Joanna Sakowicz, Olga Brózda, Natalia Kołat, Karolina Kosińska, Magdalena Kiszczyńska, Klaudia Jans, Alicja Rosolska and the other polish girls

Monica Seles, Elena Dementieva, Kveta Hrdlickova, Karolina Woźniacki, Aiko Nakamura, Silvija Talaja , Darina Sedenkova
, Liga Dekmeijere, Margit Ruutel

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post #14 of 38 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2003, 03:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by easy
anyway i think the wta made the right decision in the end
they let someone else be no. 1 during that period
and when monica came backed she was allowed to be co-ranked no. 1
Excellent point. The vote was to allow Monica remain the 1st-ranked player even while she was away for an indefinite period (which ended up being 27 months). Even the old Monica (actually, especially the old Monica) would have voted No. Don't know what Gaby was thinking, but figuring her out is like making sense of Marat.

Still, I'm about Seles' story. I have no idea how many more trophies she would have won, because this sport has so often caught us out in our speculations (Austin, McEnroe, Courier, Hingis, etc....). But watching her edges dull over this past decade has been sobering. These players are indeed humans, with so much going on underneath. I just hope she's as happy as she says.

Someone is quietly turning back the clock...to them bulldozer dayz...

Always on the lookout for a great tennis match.
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post #15 of 38 (permalink) Old Apr 3rd, 2003, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azinna
Excellent point. The vote was to allow Monica remain the 1st-ranked player even while she was away for an indefinite period (which ended up being 27 months). Even the old Monica (actually, especially the old Monica) would have voted No. Don't know what Gaby was thinking, but figuring her out is like making sense of Marat.
FWIW, Gaby voted neither for nor against that motion. She simply abstained; there's no telling what thoughts and emotions led her to do that, but since this is Gaby we're talking about, I can't imagine her doing anything else.

Also FWIW, the vote was taken by 17 players who were present. I don't know who was present, but it's worth noting that someone else might have voted otherwise had she been there.
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