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Sorry if this has been posted. My heart broke for her. Regardless of if it is true (and to be honest it probably is), it must have seemed to her like here she did all the work, got all the right breaks, had all the talent to be the best at her profession in history, THE best, not one of the best, THE best. The world was her oyster, and then this one man took it all away and didn't really get punished for it. That is devastating just to type.

http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/columns/story?columnist=ford_bonnie_d&id=4085468

Monica Seles was an extraordinary athlete who lived for years with a very common problem -- compulsive eating. But her personal drama played out on an international stage, beginning with the 1993 courtside stabbing that forever altered her precocious path.

The teenage dethroned No. 1 began to blunt her psychological distress with food after that trauma. That pattern escalated as she watched her father wither away with terminal cancer. Seles packed as much as 174 pounds on her 5-foot, 10-inch frame, drawing harsh comments from the media, onlookers and men she dated. Multiple regimens, trainers and even food "babysitters'' didn't help. Although Seles remained a top-10 player until her abbreviated final season, she never recaptured her early incandescence and now says she spent much of that time "living in a fog.''

Seles didn't so much leave the scene as fade away, waiting nearly five years to formally retire following her last competitive match, in 2003 at Roland Garros. The nine-time Grand Slam winner kept a low profile before emerging as a contestant on "Dancing With The Stars'' in 2008. Starting Tuesday, she'll bare her soul instead of her legs with the release of her book, "Getting a Grip.''

[+] Enlarge
atthew Stockman/Getty Images
Monica Seles admits her most dangerous opponent was her battle against food.
It was only after Seles stopped playing, her future in limbo, that she began dealing with the root causes of her problem. She said the pounds began to melt away when she stopped counting calories and began taking a real account of her emotional health. The book germinated from talks Seles has given to women's groups through the Women's Sports Foundation. She drafted the manuscript herself, culling from old diary entries.

Now a willowy 35-year-old, Seles says she always will live with some regret about what could have been but that she's at peace and, more importantly, at the helm of her life. She will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame this summer.

Seles spoke with ESPN.com's Bonnie D. Ford on Monday in the Manhattan offices of her management company, IMG. The following are excerpts from that conversation.

ESPN.com: Do you think weight would have been an issue for you no matter what you did for a living?

Seles: I didn't really have an issue with it until after my stabbing. Let's put it this way: When I came back, I was 21 and I had been away from the tour for two and a half years and I was 20 pounds heavier. Then my father was diagnosed about a year afterward with what eventually killed him, stomach cancer, and I gained another 15 pounds. I think for me, food was a way for me to deal with emotional trouble. As a top player, you have to keep your emotions in check. You think you can control everything. I was playing all these great players. If you asked me who was my most difficult opponent, I can tell you, it wasn't any of those players; it was my own battle with food because it was going on in my head while I would go out to play in front of 20,000 people.

ESPN.com: What was the turning point?

Seles: When I played my last tournament, my doctor said I had to go into a cast for four to five months. So I'm turning 30, which in tennis is kind of ancient, and my entire identity has been tennis. What am I going to do after tennis? What's happening in my life? Maybe I'm meant to be overweight. It was not a happy period. For the first time in my life, I was without anybody to tell me what to do. My foot was in a cast, and I knew I did not want to gain another pound. I also knew whatever I was doing was not working and I needed a change. That was the "wow" moment, when I said, "Forget Monica the tennis player, the champion, the person that got stabbed, the youngest to win this or that; do this for Monica the person."

ESPN.com: Once you started to process the grief over your career taking a left turn and your dad's death, that's when the weight started to come off.

Seles: Also once I stopped all the diets. The second half of my career, I was always put on a diet. Twelve hundred calories, measured exactly. I read every single diet book. I still have them. The Atkins, the food combination, the gluten-free …

ESPN.com: The blood-type diet. I saw your list.

Seles: Every single one. Because I always thought the answer lies there. Food is just the way it manifested itself. If I had dropped out of the top 100, maybe that would have been a wake-up call like the one Andre Agassi had. I had to come to these realizations by myself. I didn't want to diet; I didn't want to yo-yo.

ESPN.com: Did you consider yourself an addict, and if so, are you now a recovering addict?

Seles: I definitely had an addiction to food. No question. I put it in tennis terms. This is my biggest opponent, and I really want to beat this opponent. It took me a year and a half to lose my 37 pounds, and I did it all by walking. No gym. So the irony is amazing from an athlete's point of view. The other thing is you have to figure out what's eating you emotionally. I love to eat. If I didn't, I never would have been as big as I was. But I don't eat the quantity that I used to because my emotions are in check. For women, the emotional connection with food is a very powerful one. For me, it was overeating. For some, it's not eating. The sooner you can start taking control, the sooner you will be a happier person. I think you can see it not just in my body but in my face.

ESPN.com: Looking back, do you think a lot of other players had food issues in one way or another?

Seles: Unfortunately, on the tour, nobody talks about it that much. I'm sure there are. But I wish somebody had talked to me. I really feel nine years of my life in some ways were spent living in a fog. There's definitely big pressure for women in sports, same as if you look at entertainment. If you look at tennis, the girls have become much more attractive; they wear makeup. In my generation, you were a tennis player. It wasn't like you had to look a certain way. When the agents look at you, it's not just, "She is a great tennis player," it's, "Oh my gosh, she looks fantastic and she's a good tennis player." They realize it has to be the whole package.

ESPN.com: Does that make you uncomfortable?

Seles: I think it's not the healthiest way, because at the end of the day, tennis is about how good you are; you let the racket do the talking for you. But it's hard to tell that to young girls when they see all the endorsement money goes to the players that are more marketed.

ESPN.com: I'm curious about what you think of the playing restrictions on younger players. Obviously, being a young champion can take its toll, but you might not have had the career you had with the rules in place now.


AP Photo/Elise Amendola
Monica Seles never fully regained her dominant form after 2½ years away from tennis.
Seles: I actually believe that should be up to each individual player. The other side of the coin is that some people will make a point to me, "You were lucky; you had a great set of parents who didn't push you." My father wouldn't let me turn pro my first year; he said, "See how you do and then decide. You might hate it. Or you might love it. See how good you are." When I was 14 years old, I turned down $80,000, which in those days was a huge amount. My parents struggled and had to borrow money.

That's my story. A lot of stories didn't turn out that way. But I truly believe that should be each player's decision. Everybody matures differently.

ESPN.com: So the struggles you talk about in the book didn't have to do with how young you were?

Seles: Oh no, not at all. Those struggles didn't start until my stabbing, then my father's illness. The irony of it all is that my father, for nine or 10 months, he couldn't eat; he was fed intravenously. He got down to, like, 80 pounds, and I'm eating, numbing myself. Emotionally, I didn't want to feel any more pain.

When I read about Oprah Winfrey a little while ago, here's a woman who's so powerful, so amazing, such a role model for all of us, and she has the same issue in terms of her food. I've always been a very private person. But I felt for this book to work, I had to be honest about it. I couldn't control my eating. I could control everything else. If my coach told me to be on the treadmill for an hour, (points to her watch) I would be on for an hour. But when I would be left to my own devices, I would counteract all that.

ESPN.com: I was surprised when I heard about this project because you have been so private.

Seles: I so wish that for nine years, I didn't waste -- waste is maybe too strong a word. I realized how many women had this problem. This might sound ignorant, but I thought it was just me. It wasn't easy for me to talk about my stabbing, my father's death, but at the end of the day, I had to talk about it.

I realized I wasn't alone. Whenever I wanted to revert to my old ways, I would think, "There are other ways to deal with this. Don't take it out on a cookie."

ESPN.com: What are your feelings now about tennis?

Seles: My friend Mary Joe Fernandez and I were talking, and she said, "Do you miss being out there?" Some days I do, but most days I really don't. I don't miss the travel. I miss the high of walking out there in front of 20,000 people. Or that great shot. But I know how much it takes to hit that great shot, what goes into it. I'm very happy; I had a great run. Do I wish I could have played a few more years? Probably, but unfortunately, since I was heavier -- it goes again back to that -- I put so much stress on my foot and my body, I think it ended my career a bit early. I wish a light bulb had gone off in my head a little earlier, but if I can help some more women, it's all worth it.
 

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great read, Monica will always be the people's champion :)
 

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does anyone know what Monica liked to eat? I'm just curious if she was a sweets and desserts or fatty/salty foods kind of person :lol:
 

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yeah i saw something about that recently on tv (think it was ET aka entertainment tonight). they said that in a late night binge she would consume 6000 calories or more! :eek: thats amazing.
 

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I admire Monica's honesty. I don't believe people when they say they have no regrets. How can anyone live a life without making mistakes and having regrets? But she puts it into perspective by saying she is at peace with them. I hope so.

It is also strange how she was given so much so young and then fate or whatever conspired to ruin it all - the stabbing, her father.

It's good to see Monica being so open about everything. Good for her.
 

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does anyone know what Monica liked to eat? I'm just curious if she was a sweets and desserts or fatty/salty foods kind of person :lol:
I read in a book called Venus Envy that she could be found in the players' canteen ordering and eating cheeseburgers in between games.

Comfort eating is a very common issue for millions so I don't see it as a criticism of Monica at all. It's a pyschological issue like many other things.
 

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The irony of it all is that my father, for nine or 10 months, he couldn't eat; he was fed intravenously. He got down to, like, 80 pounds, and I'm eating, numbing myself. Emotionally, I didn't want to feel any more pain.
That's so sad. Even though Monica was always very private, you could see the vulnerability. She's always carried herself with such enormous dignity. I derived so much pleasure from watching her crunch those double barrelled babies for all those years, I'm SO glad she's finally found peace.

I remember after she won her last grandslam in Oz, some dumb reporter asked her if she'd ever play again in Germany. Given how traumatic the stabbing had been psychologically, it was just about the most insenstive question you could ask.

One last memory - her dad's tearstained face when she won the Canadian Open on her comeback in 1995. All he ever wanted was for his daughter to be happy. What a wonderful man he was and no wonder it was so terribly painful to lose him.
 

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Really great read. Thanks for posting..
 

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Monica truly is a gracious, great champion. I am impressed by the way she never even insinuates that the stabbing ruined/drastically altered her career for the worse. She takes full responsibility for her problems once she came back and that takes a humble and wonderful person.
 

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She was on Sean Hannity on Monday talking about this too :)
 

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Sorry if this has been posted. My heart broke for her. Regardless of if it is true (and to be honest it probably is), it must have seemed to her like here she did all the work, got all the right breaks, had all the talent to be the best at her profession in history, THE best, not one of the best, THE best. The world was her oyster, and then this one man took it all away and didn't really get punished for it. That is devastating just to type.

http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/columns/story?columnist=ford_bonnie_d&id=4085468

Monica Seles was an extraordinary athlete who lived for years with a very common problem -- compulsive eating. But her personal drama played out on an international stage, beginning with the 1993 courtside stabbing that forever altered her precocious path.

The teenage dethroned No. 1 began to blunt her psychological distress with food after that trauma. That pattern escalated as she watched her father wither away with terminal cancer. Seles packed as much as 174 pounds on her 5-foot, 10-inch frame, drawing harsh comments from the media, onlookers and men she dated. Multiple regimens, trainers and even food "babysitters'' didn't help. Although Seles remained a top-10 player until her abbreviated final season, she never recaptured her early incandescence and now says she spent much of that time "living in a fog.''

Seles didn't so much leave the scene as fade away, waiting nearly five years to formally retire following her last competitive match, in 2003 at Roland Garros. The nine-time Grand Slam winner kept a low profile before emerging as a contestant on "Dancing With The Stars'' in 2008. Starting Tuesday, she'll bare her soul instead of her legs with the release of her book, "Getting a Grip.''

[+] Enlarge
atthew Stockman/Getty Images
Monica Seles admits her most dangerous opponent was her battle against food.
It was only after Seles stopped playing, her future in limbo, that she began dealing with the root causes of her problem. She said the pounds began to melt away when she stopped counting calories and began taking a real account of her emotional health. The book germinated from talks Seles has given to women's groups through the Women's Sports Foundation. She drafted the manuscript herself, culling from old diary entries.

Now a willowy 35-year-old, Seles says she always will live with some regret about what could have been but that she's at peace and, more importantly, at the helm of her life. She will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame this summer.

Seles spoke with ESPN.com's Bonnie D. Ford on Monday in the Manhattan offices of her management company, IMG. The following are excerpts from that conversation.

ESPN.com: Do you think weight would have been an issue for you no matter what you did for a living?

Seles: I didn't really have an issue with it until after my stabbing. Let's put it this way: When I came back, I was 21 and I had been away from the tour for two and a half years and I was 20 pounds heavier. Then my father was diagnosed about a year afterward with what eventually killed him, stomach cancer, and I gained another 15 pounds. I think for me, food was a way for me to deal with emotional trouble. As a top player, you have to keep your emotions in check. You think you can control everything. I was playing all these great players. If you asked me who was my most difficult opponent, I can tell you, it wasn't any of those players; it was my own battle with food because it was going on in my head while I would go out to play in front of 20,000 people.

ESPN.com: What was the turning point?

Seles: When I played my last tournament, my doctor said I had to go into a cast for four to five months. So I'm turning 30, which in tennis is kind of ancient, and my entire identity has been tennis. What am I going to do after tennis? What's happening in my life? Maybe I'm meant to be overweight. It was not a happy period. For the first time in my life, I was without anybody to tell me what to do. My foot was in a cast, and I knew I did not want to gain another pound. I also knew whatever I was doing was not working and I needed a change. That was the "wow" moment, when I said, "Forget Monica the tennis player, the champion, the person that got stabbed, the youngest to win this or that; do this for Monica the person."

ESPN.com: Once you started to process the grief over your career taking a left turn and your dad's death, that's when the weight started to come off.

Seles: Also once I stopped all the diets. The second half of my career, I was always put on a diet. Twelve hundred calories, measured exactly. I read every single diet book. I still have them. The Atkins, the food combination, the gluten-free …

ESPN.com: The blood-type diet. I saw your list.

Seles: Every single one. Because I always thought the answer lies there. Food is just the way it manifested itself. If I had dropped out of the top 100, maybe that would have been a wake-up call like the one Andre Agassi had. I had to come to these realizations by myself. I didn't want to diet; I didn't want to yo-yo.

ESPN.com: Did you consider yourself an addict, and if so, are you now a recovering addict?

Seles: I definitely had an addiction to food. No question. I put it in tennis terms. This is my biggest opponent, and I really want to beat this opponent. It took me a year and a half to lose my 37 pounds, and I did it all by walking. No gym. So the irony is amazing from an athlete's point of view. The other thing is you have to figure out what's eating you emotionally. I love to eat. If I didn't, I never would have been as big as I was. But I don't eat the quantity that I used to because my emotions are in check. For women, the emotional connection with food is a very powerful one. For me, it was overeating. For some, it's not eating. The sooner you can start taking control, the sooner you will be a happier person. I think you can see it not just in my body but in my face.

ESPN.com: Looking back, do you think a lot of other players had food issues in one way or another?

Seles: Unfortunately, on the tour, nobody talks about it that much. I'm sure there are. But I wish somebody had talked to me. I really feel nine years of my life in some ways were spent living in a fog. There's definitely big pressure for women in sports, same as if you look at entertainment. If you look at tennis, the girls have become much more attractive; they wear makeup. In my generation, you were a tennis player. It wasn't like you had to look a certain way. When the agents look at you, it's not just, "She is a great tennis player," it's, "Oh my gosh, she looks fantastic and she's a good tennis player." They realize it has to be the whole package.

ESPN.com: Does that make you uncomfortable?

Seles: I think it's not the healthiest way, because at the end of the day, tennis is about how good you are; you let the racket do the talking for you. But it's hard to tell that to young girls when they see all the endorsement money goes to the players that are more marketed.

ESPN.com: I'm curious about what you think of the playing restrictions on younger players. Obviously, being a young champion can take its toll, but you might not have had the career you had with the rules in place now.


AP Photo/Elise Amendola
Monica Seles never fully regained her dominant form after 2½ years away from tennis.
Seles: I actually believe that should be up to each individual player. The other side of the coin is that some people will make a point to me, "You were lucky; you had a great set of parents who didn't push you." My father wouldn't let me turn pro my first year; he said, "See how you do and then decide. You might hate it. Or you might love it. See how good you are." When I was 14 years old, I turned down $80,000, which in those days was a huge amount. My parents struggled and had to borrow money.

That's my story. A lot of stories didn't turn out that way. But I truly believe that should be each player's decision. Everybody matures differently.

ESPN.com: So the struggles you talk about in the book didn't have to do with how young you were?

Seles: Oh no, not at all. Those struggles didn't start until my stabbing, then my father's illness. The irony of it all is that my father, for nine or 10 months, he couldn't eat; he was fed intravenously. He got down to, like, 80 pounds, and I'm eating, numbing myself. Emotionally, I didn't want to feel any more pain.

When I read about Oprah Winfrey a little while ago, here's a woman who's so powerful, so amazing, such a role model for all of us, and she has the same issue in terms of her food. I've always been a very private person. But I felt for this book to work, I had to be honest about it. I couldn't control my eating. I could control everything else. If my coach told me to be on the treadmill for an hour, (points to her watch) I would be on for an hour. But when I would be left to my own devices, I would counteract all that.

ESPN.com: I was surprised when I heard about this project because you have been so private.

Seles: I so wish that for nine years, I didn't waste -- waste is maybe too strong a word. I realized how many women had this problem. This might sound ignorant, but I thought it was just me. It wasn't easy for me to talk about my stabbing, my father's death, but at the end of the day, I had to talk about it.

I realized I wasn't alone. Whenever I wanted to revert to my old ways, I would think, "There are other ways to deal with this. Don't take it out on a cookie."

ESPN.com: What are your feelings now about tennis?

Seles: My friend Mary Joe Fernandez and I were talking, and she said, "Do you miss being out there?" Some days I do, but most days I really don't. I don't miss the travel. I miss the high of walking out there in front of 20,000 people. Or that great shot. But I know how much it takes to hit that great shot, what goes into it. I'm very happy; I had a great run. Do I wish I could have played a few more years? Probably, but unfortunately, since I was heavier -- it goes again back to that -- I put so much stress on my foot and my body, I think it ended my career a bit early. I wish a light bulb had gone off in my head a little earlier, but if I can help some more women, it's all worth it.
Beautiful read, thanks!:worship:

I hope life will give her back what it took away from her so cruelly.:sobbing:
 

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does anyone know what Monica liked to eat? I'm just curious if she was a sweets and desserts or fatty/salty foods kind of person :lol:

I think I read that she liked icecream - the family size package.
 

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It's sad, and it answers a lot of the questions we all wondered about during her career. She arrived at Roland Garros in 1998 looking in pretty damn good shape, and it worked (just think what she could have achieved had she stayed in that shape). But then by Wimbledon she was piling back on the pounds, and by the autumn of that year she was as big as ever. It explains why none of her coaches stayed with her for long, and why she just couldn't lose the weight she needed to.

But to be top five in the world with those food issues shows just what a talent and ferocious competitor she was. With less weight, I've no doubt she would have won more slams after the comeback.
 

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It's sad, and it answers a lot of the questions we all wondered about during her career. She arrived at Roland Garros in 1998 looking in pretty damn good shape, and it worked (just think what she could have achieved had she stayed in that shape). But then by Wimbledon she was piling back on the pounds, and by the autumn of that year she was as big as ever. It explains why none of her coaches stayed with her for long, and why she just couldn't lose the weight she needed to.

But to be top five in the world with those food issues shows just what a talent and ferocious competitor she was. With less weight, I've no doubt she would have won more slams after the comeback.

Absolutely. I remember that in '98 after the great FO run, already by wimbledon she looked heavier, and by the USO much heavier. In '99 when she gained even more weight, she made slam semis. Oh, what could have been. It really is amazing that she still did so well despite all the personal issues. To think that she hit #2 in the world again in '97 while at her heaviest is amazing.

New interview form ABC news...http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/?rn=3906861&cl=13068498&ch=4543756&src=news. Monica says that she went from a size 2 to a size 16.
 
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