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Old Apr 28th, 2004, 02:54 PM   #1
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Monica, her father, and the Seles family history

The "Monica before 1993" thread got me thinking about a long message about Monica's father and her family's history which I once posted to another (Monica-only) message board. After re-reading it, I didn't think it belonged in the other thread, but I think this forum is far more suited than that of the average fan for commenting on historical subjects, so I edited it slightly to clean up a few mistakes and I'm reposting it here.

Karolj Seles apparently learned English late in life, so what he spoke in English was very fractured, yet enthusiastic. The general meaning of his words was usually clear. Bud Collins called his peculiar and lovable attempts at English "Karolj-Speak."

But I want to take that phrase, "Karolj-Speak," and turn it into something a little different: "speaking about Karolj." The man and his life.

Karolj formed Monica's game. We've heard the feel-good stories: how he strung a string across a parking lot, how he drew Tom and Jerry on the tennis balls, how he drove 12 hours for a tennis racket (on separate occasions) for each of his children, how he was very fair to all people and applauded Monica's opponents as well as Monica.

But what else about Karolj? What little I've read beyond these common facts, I've either forgotten or lost. Monica's autobiography (From Fear to Victory) tells us a little, but not really much more.


Geography and language

I'm an American, and like most of my countrymen, my knowledge of things foreign is pretty darn pathetic. I couldn't find the old Yugoslavia on a map if my life depended on it. I have no idea of the ethnic situation or the cultures there.

I know that the Seleses are Hungarian, and that they lived in a Hungarian enclave in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia. But do they speak Hungarian? Is there even such a language as "Hungarian?"

In this press conference, Monica specifically answers a question both in Croatian and in English. Does this mean Croatian is her native language, or simply another that she knows in addition to her native language? Can she speak Serbian? Is Serbian the same as Croatian? How many people with guns and bad tempers did I just offend with that last question?

I've heard that "Seles" is actually pronounced "Shelesh" in their native language, because that language has no letter for the "s" sound. I've also heard that Monica's name is pronounced "Moh-NEEK-ah" in her native tongue.


Background
I read somewhere that the Seleses were upper middle class and had a home in the country as well as in Novi Sad. In FFTV, Monica talks about Karolj liking his money, while Esther was the prudent one who curtailed the spending.

The best information I've been able to find about Karolj is a tribute to him after his death:

This article says:

Quote:
In his youth, Karolj Seles was an Olympic-caliber triple-jumper. As a university student, he studied sports science and biomechanics along with fine arts. Later, he frequently extolled the virtues of combining such disparate interests and took pride in being identified as a Renaissance Man. Although Seles worked as a television director and cartoonist, the twin passions of his life were sports and the family he raised in the ethnic Hungarian enclave in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia.
I had to look up both "triple jump" and "biomechanics" in the dictionary. (I'm a couch potato. Sue me.)

triple jump: "A distance jump in track and field consisting of a hop landing on the take-off foot, a stride landing on the other foot, and a jump landing on both feet."

biomechanics: "1. The study of the mechanics of a living body, especially of the forces exerted by muscles and gravity on the skeletal structure. 2. The mechanics of a part or function of a living body, such as of the heart or of locomotion."

I read once, somewhere, that as a triple-jumper, Karolj served as an alternate on the Olympic team. But for which country? What year? What university did he attend? What was his degree? I don't know.

In addition to his cartooning duties, Karolj once hosted a children's television show in Yugoslavia. I know nothing more about it. (And Esther was a computer programmer, in the 1980's when computers were rare!)


Tennis

I've often wondered what unique perspective Karolj brought to tennis. As a cartoonist and a studier of biomechanics, he would have an incredible perspective on the human body and its movement, and looking at the way Monica plays tennis, I think I can see that influence, that way of thinking. I marvel that Karolj -- at least, so it seems -- knew virtually nothing about tennis -- certainly not on the level of other professional coaches -- when he began coaching his two children to respective Yugoslavian junior championships.

In Public Power, Private Pain, author Sue Heady details how Steffi Graf was spotted as a talent early in life, and the sports-obsessed German government gave her top-notch facilities even as a child, nurturing her all the way. I think it says much about Monica's skill and talent that she was easily Steffi's equal with far fewer resources; she couldn't practice in the winter, and the four tennis courts in all of Novi Sad were of poor quality. She didn't get the government nurturing and the state-of-the-art facilities. Yet Monica still won the Orange Bowl, and the European 12-and-Under championships twice. I think that speaks volumes not only about Monica, but about Karolj, as well.

Monica mentions Karolj's ability to serve hundreds of times a day in practice, whereas much younger hired practice partners would tire out after about 200 serves or less.

Monica adored him not just as a father, but as a coach and the architect of her game. She claimed to receive coaching tips from him over the phone when he was bedridden late in life, and using those tips to win matches she would otherwise have lost.

Frankly, I don't think the stabbing affected Monica's overall career nearly as much as Karolj's death. She won the Oz Open in 1996 and came within an inch (1st-set tie-break) of winning the US Open in 1995, all while overweight! But when Karolj's cancer returned in early 1996, and it seemed to be worse than ever before, that's when her game crumbled.

When Steffi's father was in prison, she practically had to use the tennis court as a refuge because the authorities wouldn't let them speak to each other. But when Monica's father's health deteriorated, she couldn't do the same; unlike Steffi, Monica had the power to be by her father's side, and she made that choice. Monica's lowest years while still on the tour are 1996-1999, and I'm convinced that cancer is to blame. It came along at the precise moment it needed to to ensure that Monica's career continued to suffer from something not of her making, just when she had overcome the previous obstacle. If the cancer had to return, then its timing, at least, could hardly have been worse.

What would Monica's career look like if Karolj were still alive and healthy? Would he have eventually taught her to volley? Does Monica have a reluctance to try new tactics because, subconsciously, holding onto her baseline way of playing is a way of holding onto her father, and trying something new would seem like a betrayal of his teaching? Would he have found an answer to the Williams sisters?

And would it take another cartoonist and biomechanist to take his place?


Communism

Karolj didn't like communism (or socialism -- I realize they are actually not the same), having lived under such a system for most of his life. In FFTV, Monica talks about being able to understand even at the age of 8 that she couldn't get a good tennis court, or shop for good things, without having special privileges. As a political cartoonist, Karolj once drew a relatively famous cartoon (probably in 1984) showing the five Olympic rings as the mouths of Soviet guns. Again, I cannot find the article, but he is reputed once to have redrawn this figure in the dirt with his shoe while talking to a reporter, and saying something like, "This country, me like, no."

But why, exactly, did he "like, no" the Soviet Union? Well, Karolj was born in 1933 or 1934. The Soviet Union invaded Hungary in 1954, when Karolj was 20 years old. Is this why so many Hungarians emigrated to Yugoslavia? And if Yugoslavia was also a communist government, was it really any better? I'm no expert on European history, so I don't know.

(For an example of the Soviet-Hungary strife, go to this web site and do a "Find" on the word "Soviet." It's about halfway down the page.)

Also in FFTV (and elsewhere), Monica talks about how Karolj's father, Jakab Seles, was mentally tortured during World War II because he wouldn't renounce his pacifist philosophy, pick up a gun and fire it. Karolj had to grow up living with the mental scars inflicted on his father.

Karolj worked for the media, and I think he would therefore have his finger on the pulse of history more than most people. Did he sense the coming war in 1989? Was the move to Florida, at least to some extent, an effort to get out of the country before it started? Being no lover of communism, I doubt he felt any sense of loyalty or pride in the nation of Yugoslavia, but I won't presume to read his mind.

At the time, many people remarked upon the Seles's need for secrecy, wigs and assumed names in the early 90's. I don't think this need was exaggerated or trivial; I'm certain they received death threats from the beginning. The bomb threat at Wimbledon is one documented example of this. Monica lost her chance to play in the Olympics -- and endured criticism -- because she didn't play Fed Cup for Yugoslavia, but it's not hard to read between the lines why she didn't play for that country (which I believe she never did). She didn't like it. She didn't want to be associated with it. She asked that tournaments list her as a resident of Sarasota, Florida, rather than representing the nation of Yugoslavia. She and Esther became U.S. citizens as quickly as they could. I believe Karolj would have become a U.S. citizen, or at least had the same rights, as soon as Esther became one, by association of marriage. Perhaps Zoltan, as well.

What could Monica have done at the 1992 Olympics? She came within one match of winning the grand slam that year. Another example of people being unable to fulfill their dreams because of the nation in which they were born. Had she been a U.S. citizen at that time, I'm certain she would have gone, and would have been the favorite to win. By the time the next Olympics rolled around, everything had changed.


As a human being

Karolj seemed to have a great outlook on life, always wanting to move forward. "I tell Monica, if I die tomorrow, my philosophy? Forget." I think that for someone with his life experiences, that would be the only philosophy which could possibly lead to success, as all others would lead to depression.

Just before Gunther Parche was to be retried, around May 1995 (I think), Karolj wrote an editorial for the New York Times, expressing his grief over the effects of the attack on Monica, as only a father could. It may have been in this editorial, or it may have been elsewhere, when he said, "I wonder how judge Elke Bosse can look the world in the eye after what she did."

And, FWIW, in his book My Aces, My Faults, Nick Bolletieri paints a very unflattering portrait of the Seles family while they stayed at his academy, saying that they were always forgetting things and money, hoarding food like they were poor, making demands and then not following through with their end of the bargain or forgetting that they had made the demands in the first place, etc. I think the most bizarre story is that Monica's brother Zoltan once kicked down the door of the canteen when he found it was closed. For the complete story, check out Nick's book, as it's too much to state here. I suspect most of it is true, but biased, with other facts omitted. Since people are people and not perfect Gods, it doesn't change my opinion of the overall goodness of the Seles family. (One man's criticism doesn't really stand up to hundreds of people's praise, and it was all a long time ago, as Nick himself says.)

All I will say about Nick Bolletieri's stories is this: either he or Monica is simply lying about their split. I've read both of their accounts, and they are diametrically opposite. It can't possibly be a situation of different perspectives. Monica claims that she and her family were stunned when they were told that they had been locked out of the academy, leaving them scrambling for new resources and facilities, forcing them to eke out time on public courts until they could find a new practice venue; Nick claims they simply left with no explanation, leaving him thoroughly puzzled as to what had gone wrong. There's no gray area, there; someone's just plain wrong.

For one last good review of Karolj, check out the final six paragraphs of this long article on "sport parents."

Quote:
Monica Seles' father and coach, Karolj, was, in my opinion, the epitome of a model tennis parent. Karolj and Esther Seles always sat side by side in the stands...Esther blissfully chewing gum, and Karolj, ever smiling, and happy, clapping not only for his daughter's good shots but--wonder of wonders--for her opponent's shots as well.

Monica first picked up a racquet at age 6. But, six months later, she decided to stop. Karolj never insisted his daughter continue to play. If she wasn't having fun, then she shouldn't play. But when Monica saw that her older brother was having fun, and winning tournaments, she decided, at 8 years of age, to try again.

Karolj knew how to motivate his daughter. At the beginning, they played together in a parking lot, between cars. When she was a bit older, they tried it on a real tennis court. Often, Karolj drew some cartoons on the tennis balls so that Monica would find it interesting. Monica and her father were always close, they were good friends. Karolj was the only person on earth who knew Monica was going to have success with her two-handed forehand.

After Monica was stabbed in Hamburg, Karolj wrote a public letter in which he poured out his anguish. In it, he said "Monica has lost her smile and what a beautiful smile it is." Several years later, Karolj died from stomach cancer. Esther, however, still appears at Monica's matches. She sits in the stands alone, calmly chewing gum, quietly watching her daughter play.

Karolj Seles' love was unconditional--win or lose. One senses the same of Esther. They are living proof that the "win-at-all-costs attitude" is a hoax.
If any of you can add any knowledge or fill in any blanks here, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks muchly.
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Old Apr 28th, 2004, 07:02 PM   #2
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I thank you very much for posting this much needed information again- this kind of thing tends to get lost after someone as great as Karolj Seles passes, and the facts blur and much is forgotten. I lived through all of those years, and the only thing I have to say about this is that he was truely a great man from what I could see- and you could tell he was genuinely applauding great tennis- this is RARE, if not non-existent in tennis parents, let alone fans.

With regard to Nick- I don't personally care for his self-aggrandizing approach to his career, or the fact that he doesn't even play tennis, as John McEnroe once hotly reminded a reporter when asked about a Bollettieri comment. That said- Monica Seles' game was entirely formed (technically speaking here, folks) at the Nick Bollettieri Academy by their professional tennis staff. The break between the family and the Academy is very odd, and the only thing distasteful is the total lack of credit any of the Seles family showed for the Academy after the split. The Williams sisters took this kind of thankless behavior to the hilt, and then hid behind their Jehovah's Witness tightly knit family unit to protect themselves from the truth about their father not having much at all to do with the actual development of their tennis games. Remember, support is an entirely different issue here.

Nick has always banked on making "stars" and receiving the camera time glory- just as disgusting. At this point I prefer to remove the ugly taste of it all from my thoughts, and only wish Monica a speedy and complete recovery to the tour, so I can see those incredible strokes and angles again!
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Old Apr 28th, 2004, 07:49 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Spirit

Geography and language

I'm an American, and like most of my countrymen, my knowledge of things foreign is pretty darn pathetic. I couldn't find the old Yugoslavia on a map if my life depended on it. I have no idea of the ethnic situation or the cultures there.

I know that the Seleses are Hungarian, and that they lived in a Hungarian enclave in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia. But do they speak Hungarian? Is there even such a language as "Hungarian?"

In this press conference, Monica specifically answers a question both in Croatian and in English. Does this mean Croatian is her native language, or simply another that she knows in addition to her native language? Can she speak Serbian? Is Serbian the same as Croatian? How many people with guns and bad tempers did I just offend with that last question?

I've heard that "Seles" is actually pronounced "Shelesh" in their native language, because that language has no letter for the "s" sound. I've also heard that Monica's name is pronounced "Moh-NEEK-ah" in her native tongue.
I can help you with this. Yes, they are ethnic Hungarians and their mother tongue is Hungarian. It belongs to Ugro-Finnish branch and it's completely different to all the other languages in Europe. It's very funny and beautiful in its own way. And for Serbian/Croatian issue... well standard Serbian and standard Croatian are 95% the same. There are some differences in spelling and minor differences and grammar, but I can watch Croatian TV and read their newspapers with no trouble at all.
Of course, Monica speaks Serbian as she grew up in Novi Sad, and I watched dozens of her interviews on TV in Serbian - just I don't remember them any more.
So I don't know why it's said she answered the questions in Croatian? I don't think that makes sense...
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Old Apr 28th, 2004, 07:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joana
I can help you with this. Yes, they are ethnic Hungarians and their mother tongue is Hungarian. It belongs to Ugro-Finnish branch and it's completely different to all the other languages in Europe. It's very funny and beautiful in its own way. And for Serbian/Croatian issue... well standard Serbian and standard Croatian are 95% the same. There are some differences in spelling and minor differences and grammar, but I can watch Croatian TV and read their newspapers with no trouble at all.
Of course, Monica speaks Serbian as she grew up in Novi Sad, and I watched dozens of her interviews on TV in Serbian - just I don't remember them any more.
So I don't know why it's said she answered the questions in Croatian? I don't think that makes sense...
Thank you for that! So Monica knows at least three languages (English, Serbian, Hungarian), almost certainly Croatian, too, from what you say.

She may have answered in Croatian because the reporter asked his question in Croatian. The transcript doesn't say.
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Old Apr 28th, 2004, 08:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spirit
I've heard that "Seles" is actually pronounced "Shelesh" in their native language, because that language has no letter for the "s" sound. I've also heard that Monica's name is pronounced "Moh-NEEK-ah" in her native tongue.
Not true. It's pronounced Selesh - in Hungarian it's written Szeles - sz is for English s and s for English sh.
And it's MOH-nee-kah. In Hungarian stress is always on the first syllable.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Spirit
Background
I read somewhere that the Seleses were upper middle class and had a home in the country as well as in Novi Sad. In FFTV, Monica talks about Karolj liking his money, while Esther was the prudent one who curtailed the spending.

The best information I've been able to find about Karolj is a tribute to him after his death:

This article says:


I had to look up both "triple jump" and "biomechanics" in the dictionary. (I'm a couch potato. Sue me.)

triple jump: "A distance jump in track and field consisting of a hop landing on the take-off foot, a stride landing on the other foot, and a jump landing on both feet."

biomechanics: "1. The study of the mechanics of a living body, especially of the forces exerted by muscles and gravity on the skeletal structure. 2. The mechanics of a part or function of a living body, such as of the heart or of locomotion."

I read once, somewhere, that as a triple-jumper, Karolj served as an alternate on the Olympic team. But for which country? What year? What university did he attend? What was his degree? I don't know.

In addition to his cartooning duties, Karolj once hosted a children's television show in Yugoslavia. I know nothing more about it. (And Esther was a computer programmer, in the 1980's when computers were rare!)


Communism

Karolj didn't like communism (or socialism -- I realize they are actually not the same), having lived under such a system for most of his life. In FFTV, Monica talks about being able to understand even at the age of 8 that she couldn't get a good tennis court, or shop for good things, without having special privileges. As a political cartoonist, Karolj once drew a relatively famous cartoon (probably in 1984) showing the five Olympic rings as the mouths of Soviet guns. Again, I cannot find the article, but he is reputed once to have redrawn this figure in the dirt with his shoe while talking to a reporter, and saying something like, "This country, me like, no."

But why, exactly, did he "like, no" the Soviet Union? Well, Karolj was born in 1933 or 1934. The Soviet Union invaded Hungary in 1954, when Karolj was 20 years old. Is this why so many Hungarians emigrated to Yugoslavia? And if Yugoslavia was also a communist government, was it really any better? I'm no expert on European history, so I don't know.

(For an example of the Soviet-Hungary strife, go to this web site and do a "Find" on the word "Soviet." It's about halfway down the page.)

Also in FFTV (and elsewhere), Monica talks about how Karolj's father, Jakab Seles, was mentally tortured during World War II because he wouldn't renounce his pacifist philosophy, pick up a gun and fire it. Karolj had to grow up living with the mental scars inflicted on his father.

Karolj worked for the media, and I think he would therefore have his finger on the pulse of history more than most people. Did he sense the coming war in 1989? Was the move to Florida, at least to some extent, an effort to get out of the country before it started? Being no lover of communism, I doubt he felt any sense of loyalty or pride in the nation of Yugoslavia, but I won't presume to read his mind.

At the time, many people remarked upon the Seles's need for secrecy, wigs and assumed names in the early 90's. I don't think this need was exaggerated or trivial; I'm certain they received death threats from the beginning. The bomb threat at Wimbledon is one documented example of this. Monica lost her chance to play in the Olympics -- and endured criticism -- because she didn't play Fed Cup for Yugoslavia, but it's not hard to read between the lines why she didn't play for that country (which I believe she never did). She didn't like it. She didn't want to be associated with it. She asked that tournaments list her as a resident of Sarasota, Florida, rather than representing the nation of Yugoslavia. She and Esther became U.S. citizens as quickly as they could. I believe Karolj would have become a U.S. citizen, or at least had the same rights, as soon as Esther became one, by association of marriage. Perhaps Zoltan, as well.

What could Monica have done at the 1992 Olympics? She came within one match of winning the grand slam that year. Another example of people being unable to fulfill their dreams because of the nation in which they were born. Had she been a U.S. citizen at that time, I'm certain she would have gone, and would have been the favorite to win. By the time the next Olympics rolled around, everything had changed.

I must say this was hard for me to read. Don't take any offence, I'm maybe biased, but I just don't feel she thought like that.
First things first - Vojvodina, the northern part of Serbia, where Novi Sad is, has long been the part of Hungary. After 16th century, many Serbs started to immigrate there to escape Turkish rule in Serbia. By 19th century the Serbs became a majority in those parts and after WW1 Vojvodina became part of Serbia. However, large Hungarian, German and Slovakian minority remained. Therefore, the Seles family is native to Serbia and they haven't moved there from Hungary.
And I just can't accept and believe they resented Yugoslavia. Sure, USA was much, much better place to live in and I agree 100% with their decision to move (I would have done the same). But I think they still have fond memories and feelings for their home country - during RG '99 Monica expressed her sadness because Novi Sad was being bombed by NATO air force. Of course, I may be wrong, but still, I believe they don't hate, resent, dislike or whatever the country they were born in.
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Old Apr 28th, 2004, 08:19 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Joana
I must say this was hard for me to read. Don't take any offence, I'm maybe biased, but I just don't feel she thought like that.
First things first - Vojvodina, the northern part of Serbia, where Novi Sad is, has long been the part of Hungary. After 16th century, many Serbs started to immigrate there to escape Turkish rule in Serbia. By 19th century the Serbs became a majority in those parts and after WW1 Vojvodina became part of Serbia. However, large Hungarian, German and Slovakian minority remained. Therefore, the Seles family is native to Serbia and they haven't moved there from Hungary.
And I just can't accept and believe they resented Yugoslavia. Sure, USA was much, much better place to live in and I agree 100% with their decision to move (I would have done the same). But I think they still have fond memories and feelings for their home country - during RG '99 Monica expressed her sadness because Novi Sad was being bombed by NATO air force. Of course, I may be wrong, but still, I believe they don't hate, resent, dislike or whatever the country they were born in.
No problem. You know far more about this than I do, so I have no problem altering my worldview to fit in this new information. I was just trying to extrapolate from the scant information I had until now.

I've tried a few searches on the web, and I come across things like this:

"Yugoslavia was created after WW I and was a complicated combination of peoples, religions, and cultures. Developed and predominantly Roman Catholic regions such as Slovenia (formerly part of the Austrian Empire) and Croatia (formerly part of Hungary) were joined with less developed and Eastern Orthodox Serbia. These regions were then joined with even more poorly developed Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia-Hercegovina, which all have large Muslim and Eastern Orthodox populations. To further complicate the situation, Serbian claims to parts of Southern Hungary (Vojvodina) were also granted and incorporated into this new country."

I'd have to study this a lot more to even begin to understand it, but you've helped me understand why there were so many Hungarians in Yugoslavia.
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Old Apr 29th, 2004, 05:26 AM   #7
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I That said- Monica Seles' game was entirely formed (technically speaking here, folks) at the Nick Bollettieri Academy by their professional tennis staff.
I wish some people would write about something they know a few things about...

Monica's dad (a great example for a good Tennis parent btw) formed Monica's game in the first place. She did NOT learn the 2handed game at the accademy in Florida, she learnt it back home in Jugoslavia. At Bolletierie's they even tried to switch her 2-handed forehand to a one-hander - Karolji couldn't believe it when he came over for a visit at the camp and changed it again right away. With Monica's brother.

Sure, her game has elements of that Bolletiere school and he helped her by letting her practise day in day out on perfect facilities - BUT Monica's coach who created her game was no other than her dad.

When they split (before Monica's first GS title btw!!!) Nick was travelling with Agassi and helping out Monica only at the Grand Slams (where he was around anyway, for Agassi).

These days Monica gives credit to Nick, still saying her father was her coach, which he was. Again, Bolleterie was a great help until early 90, but that was it, a help in the beginning, not more, not less.

You don't know much about the split back then and the media made a fuss about it, taking part of a Monica interview, leaving the other part out and some people (the ones who should stick to THEIR fave) still believe this one-sided story. Monica said that Nick was her trainer, but her dad was her coach. And this was the truth. The press made a "Bolletieri was never my coach" out of this. Again, how often did you see him at Monica's matches? Hardly ever!
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Old Apr 29th, 2004, 05:39 AM   #8
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Good post, Joanna, and yes, it is odd they write she'd answer in Croatian. The Seleses talk to each other in a Yugoslavian/Hungarian mix by the way, this is quite funny to hear Yugoslavian with elements in it that you think don't belong there, lol.

Does Monica still have relatives in Serbia? Her grandmother died a few years back, I believe I once heard her dad had a brother or 2 over there.

I also agree with Joanna about Monica's feeling to her mother country. She was a superstar there beyond believe and she went there, picking up her awards personally and thank her supporters, she played Hopman-Cup, gave interviews to the Yugoslavian TV and played exhibitions in 89,90,91 in Belgrad and Sarajevo. So she always seemed to know where she came from.
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Old Apr 29th, 2004, 11:41 AM   #9
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Re: playing for Yugoslavia - Seles always blamed their federation for not supporting her however she also made comment in 91 I think along the lines of: that as Yugo did not have a strong no. 2 then there as no use her playing because they wouldn't have a chance to win the tournament. Therefore she may have played for them if there was a quality player to support her...
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Old Apr 29th, 2004, 12:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert1
I wish some people would write about something they know a few things about...

Monica's dad (a great example for a good Tennis parent btw) formed Monica's game in the first place. She did NOT learn the 2handed game at the accademy in Florida, she learnt it back home in Jugoslavia.
I'll take that a step further, and add a wish that you (not some people) would be able to read posts as posted, and not read what you want to see into them. I never said Monica learned her 2 handed game at Bollettieri's Academy. They did, however, change her grips to fully western on both strokes, gave her a huge, oversized racquet, and re-moulded those groundstrokes by teaching her how to take the ball early, on the rise, with the western grips covering the ball bounce. Karolj Seles had Monica hitting two-handed shots with the basic Chris Evert flat sideways stance before all of that was changed by Nick's Pros. The two games are entirely different. The game you have seen is a direct product of the Nick Bollettieri Academy, and has little or nothing to do with what Karolj did with her. The only thing the two games share is Monica's terrific hand-eye coordination and anticipation- everything else is Bollettieri taught, whether you like it or not.

Oh, and by the way- so glad we're speaking again- I missed you!
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Old Apr 29th, 2004, 01:16 PM   #11
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I recall Mary Carillo's take on the split with Nick back in 90. She seemed to have inside information as she was close to Nick and often stopped by the academy and witnessed Monica working out there. As she said, going to Nick's allowed Monica to flourish. She was given very technical advice on her strokes as well as strategy. Its good to know that Monica now gives credit to Nick (taking nothing away from Mr. Seles) because he had a great impact on her game.

On the other hand Carillo laid into Nick by saying that the timing of his money allegations against the Seles' was poorly timed. This happened, I believe, at the beginning of the French in 1990. Seles didn't play well early on in that French and it was possibly because of the questions and distractions that she was facing. I'm not sure if a law suit was ever filed, but that would have been the appropriate way to deal with this instead of taking Monica to task in the press.

BTW, I don't care for Bollieteri at all. I can't think of one good thing he's done for the game. But there's no doubt that his academy allowed some of the greats of the 90's to hit against the very best up and comers.
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Old Apr 30th, 2004, 04:41 AM   #12
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To our Tennis-pope:
>>>>>>>>><<Karolj Seles had Monica hitting two-handed shots with the basic Chris Evert flat sideways stance before all of that was changed by Nick's Pros.

That's simply not true, whether YOU like it or not. Monica was a European- (this is a continent far away from the the land of the free and brave, pope), a World-, and an Orange bowl Champion before she ever put a foot on Bolleterie's courts - and she was that be hitting the ball ON the baseline, not behind it (like Evert). Enough said about this.

Oh, didn't you want to prove something, pope? You maintained Seles' grunting became ridiculous to you when she grunted loud on hitting drop shots. She never did, of course you don't give that in. But didn't you say it's okay to be wrong? Well, it's not for a pope I guess.

Louloubelle, I think that was a point for Monica, too. Especially in 90 and 91 (no Jausovec or Goles anymore around) there was literally no other professional player from Yugoslavia. Monica would have won every match, the other player had lost and an odd doubles would have been played. Would have been fun to see though...
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Old Apr 30th, 2004, 11:42 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert1
To our Tennis-pope:
>>>>>>>>><<Karolj Seles had Monica hitting two-handed shots with the basic Chris Evert flat sideways stance before all of that was changed by Nick's Pros.

That's simply not true, whether YOU like it or not. Monica was a European- (this is a continent far away from the the land of the free and brave, pope), a World-, and an Orange bowl Champion before she ever put a foot on Bolleterie's courts - and she was that be hitting the ball ON the baseline, not behind it (like Evert). Enough said about this.

Oh, didn't you want to prove something, pope? You maintained Seles' grunting became ridiculous to you when she grunted loud on hitting drop shots. She never did, of course you don't give that in. But didn't you say it's okay to be wrong? Well, it's not for a pope I guess.

Louloubelle, I think that was a point for Monica, too. Especially in 90 and 91 (no Jausovec or Goles anymore around) there was literally no other professional player from Yugoslavia. Monica would have won every match, the other player had lost and an odd doubles would have been played. Would have been fun to see though...
Actually, I've been to Europe several times, and quite enjoy it. There are many things about Europeans, the French in particular, which I adore and wish many Americans could see things outside of those same rose-colored narrow minded, and sometimes totally ignorant views of the rest of the world. I consider my self a citizen of the world first, and a citizen of the United States of America second, if that's of any import to you. I'm not really sure where the pope reference is coming from, as I am neither Catholic, papal in stature or attitude, or drooling yet, for that matter (at least not in the pontificating sense). If you've got some fixation on any of the above, please keep it to yourself as much as possible, as I prefer to discuss the game of tennis intelligently, and am really not interested in your possibly antagonistic and obviously jaded and prejudiced views on any particular world religion or superfluous aryan mumblings and personal jibes directed at the non-Seles worshiping heathen.

Back to tennis- I haven't been too well health wise over the past few weeks, and going through my tapes to find the match or two where Monica grunts on a drop shot has been very low on my priorities list. I hope you can be patient with me on that one. I have it on tape, though, and will eventually produce the evidence for you, along with the commentary from either Carillo or Shriver (again- don't want to guess without hearing it again) when it happened. Why is it that Monica never grunts in practice? I could never figure that one out either. Have you ever seen her practice? Everyone should, because she really works out like many players need to- and her results show it.

Again- you take the focus off of the Bollettieri (note the spelling please) contribution of western grips, oversized racquets and covering the ball, and turn it into what you want to hear- that she was a Chris Evert behind the baseline when she won the Orange Bowl juniors. Not sure where that quantum leap was quantified in your mind, but I'll say this- you're an olympic class jumper when it comes to discussing Monica open and freely. I bid you peace and the open mind to enjoy all it can offer.

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Old May 2nd, 2004, 03:17 AM   #14
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Just a couple of comments about some of the subjects raised:
1) Early on, the Seles family all were adament about the fact that they were in the US only to imporve Monica's tennis. They had no intention of "becoming American" and had great loyalty to Yougoslovia. It was not until the country disolved into civil war that the Seleses decided to make the US their permanent home. As ethinc Hungarians, their allegiance was to the muti-ethnic Yougolsovia that existed prior to the civil war and I don't think they ever identified with any of the parties; Serb, Croation or Bosnian, that comprised the waring parties. Karolj clearly had no love for the Soviet Union, perhaps because of the Soviet oppression of the Hungarians both in 1954 and 1968 but I recall an interview where he indicated he had some problems with the KGB over some of his political cartoons. However, it is incorrect to equate Yougoslovia under Tito with the Soviet Union of that period. While still a dictatorship, it was far more open to the West than the Soviet Union. To this day, Monica has never spoken about the war althought she has spoken very eloquently on behalf of the children of the entire region. She has also retained friendships with both Croation & Serbian players.
2) It really doesn't matter who taught Monica which specific techninques, It was Karolj that Monica always looked to for direction. There was apparently some disagreement between Karolj and Nick about Monica's training and there is no doubt that Monica's loyalty lay with her father and that was most likely at the heart of the rupture between Nick and the Seleses. It is nice to see that both Monica and Nick seem to be on good terms now and both have modified their stance in recent years.
3) Two things that I found very interesting in Karolj's interviews regarding Monica that I think have had a great impact on her career: Karolj once described himself as a sculpter rather than a painter when it came to Monica's training. He tried to see and reveal what was already there by removing what was unnecessary as a sculpter does when he works a stone. The other was that he always let Monica take the lead and tried to hold her back rather than push her to do more. Maybe that is why Monica has never lost her love of the game and didn't burn out like so many teen prodigies.
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Old Nov 9th, 2009, 02:59 PM   #15
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Re: Monica, her father, and the Seles family history

Really fascinating discussion. I wish I'd seen this thread earlier - I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for Karolj Seles.
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