Seles nears decision day on her future
By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - One of the more interested observers of the return of former world number one Martina Hingis is nine-times grand slam winner Monica Seles
, who has left the door open for a comeback of her own. "Right now I think I'm in the decision stage of which way I'm going to go," said Seles, 32, in an interview on Tuesday after being introduced to reporters as the newest member of the Laureus World Sports Academy.
Seles, who dominated the women's game in the early 1990s and was world number one for 178 weeks, has not played on the WTA Tour since the 2003 French Open but has refused to close the book on her illustrious career.
"It's not an easy decision because if you do come back you want to come back at a high level," said the Yugoslav-born American, adding she was playing five days a week at home in Florida and assessing her readiness. "We'll see."
Plagued by foot problems in her later years on tour, a fit-looking Seles said she was feeling better and was keen to check how Hingis, 25, bounces back from a three-year absence caused by foot, heel and ankle problems.
"It's going to be good to see Martina coming back and to see how she does," Seles said. "I think it's great she's coming back.
"She's so young. She's in her prime and has a great challenge ahead of her. She was so good in her younger years."
Seles, who will join other top sportsmen and women to promote projects run by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, a charitable venture assisting needy children around the world, said the level of play in women's tennis was "amazing."
"The ball is being hit harder and harder, and the girls are much more complete players than they used to be. Physically stronger," she said.
Seles helped launch the power craze in women's tennis, with her ferocious hitting off both wings.
"I think I probably was one of the earliest to start it," she said. "I brought in power with two hands from both sides.
"I was one of a few players that brought on this power game and they've taken it to a new level.
"Then the grunting part, everybody is now doing it. It's like normal now. Seeing women play such aggressive tennis is really great."
Seles said she would gauge not only her skills on the court but her chances of sustaining her level of play.
"You want to be able to keep up with the girls because they are playing amazing tennis now," she said.
"To play mediocre tennis, I would not want to go back."
Seles, who won the Australian Open four times, the French Open three times and the U.S. Open twice, said she was not contemplating a full-time return and would only play selectively if she decided to come back.
Which grand slam might she aim for?
"I love the Australian and the U.S. Open. Those are my two favorites," said Seles.
"I'd take either one."
Updated on Tuesday, Dec 13, 2005 7:49 pm EST