(excerpts from an archive article July 1992)
Originally Posted by aussie_stars
does anyone have an article or something with a bit more detail about the grunting controversy of '92 Wimbledon? i'd like to know a bit more bout it.
It was only midway through Wimbledon and Monica Seles already stood accused of a myriad of offenses that ranged from grunting, to having been born on the wrong side of the political tracks regarding strife in her native Yugoslavia, to wearing clothes that were too tight.
Should she laugh it off or start to memorize the dictionary definition of persecution?
The player, who likes to portray herself as a vivacious fashion plate off the court and a single-minded soldier on it, is undecided.
"If someone was watching that tournament to find out about me, there's not one good thing they learned," the No. 1-ranked Seles said recently after undergoing further debilitation in the form of practice on a court without air-conditioning. Heating Things Up
"In England, they were bothering me in the papers about my grunting when I played there in 1989 and 1990, and as it turned out, they were just getting warmed up," she said. "I knew from all the rumors they started about me being pregnant last year when I didn't play there that this was going to be another one of those years."
Until Wimbledon, the year had been brilliant, with Seles putting up a rugged defense of her Australian and French Open titles. But once again, Wimbledon, that mecca of manners where Seles had never before advanced beyond the quarterfinals, treated her so rudely that she was incapable of doing the one thing she does best: trample her opponents.
Only a handful of matches away from nailing down the third jewel of the 1992 Grand Slam crown, the 18-year-old Seles, renowned far and wide for her relentless competitive instinct, felt like waving a white towel and then carrying it off to a beach. Time to Recuperate
"I was tired out from it all," she said. "Right in the middle of a Grand Slam I wanted to be anywhere else."
Seles forced herself to stick around until the last round, but after being silently lambasted by the defending champion, Steffi Graf, in the final, she indeed did hustle off to the south of France to recuperate.
"I'd like to have happy memories of Wimbledon and I'm working on it, but right after it was over all I wanted to do was go away and forget that there's tennis or grunting or anything," said Seles, who used the Pathmark Tennis Classic, an exhibition event this week in Mahwah, N.J., to ease her way back into a competitive state of mind.
"I'm trying to relax and not worry about anything, especially not grunting," she said with a laugh. Urged to be Quiet
Since she has already linked the volume of her grunts to the size of the threat posed by her opponent, Seles figured she could keep things to a murmur at least until her projected rematch with Capriati in the final today. But throughout Wimbledon, she was urged to adopt a quieter frame of reference on the court as she prepared for every shot. By the final, after hearing complaints from Nathalie Tauziat and Martina Navratilova and boasts from tabloid reporters who contended that her decibel level had reached locomotive proportions, Seles felt compelled to muzzle herself.
It proved a hard habit to break, and although Seles admits that Graf played unbeatably on that Saturday, she still thinks she didn't put up the kind of fight she usually does.
"Unfortunately I might have put too much emphasis on staying quiet in the final when I should have been paying more attention to my game," said Seles, whose 41-match Grand Slam winning streak was curbed as well. "I think I was a little overwhelmed by the whole situation. By the end of the tournament how I sounded was more important than how I played."
Ever since hearing Carrie Cunningham grunt convincingly from across the net during her junior years, Seles has accompanied almost all of her double-handed groundstrokes with a dual-tone grunt. The noise, she says, was not martial-arts inspired, nor did she hope to use it to befuddle her opponents.
Capriati, who relishes her slugfests with the stylistically similar Seles, said the vilification of the Seles soundtrack at Wimbledon was unjustified. "I don't think it was right for all of a sudden everybody to get on her case," said Capriati, who has been known to deliver an effortful grunt herself. "It's pretty tough when you're in the final of Wimbledon and worried about playing well, and fighting, to have in your mind, 'Oh, I better not grunt.' "
" For people to pick on whether my skirt is too short or too long or too tight is dumb. But it seems like having things blown out of proportion all around you is what happens when you're No. 1; I saw Steffi go through it and now I guess it's my turn."