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Monica Seles

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 0
Bronze 1
Total 1
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
SexFemale
Full nameMonica•Seles (-Golisano)
Used nameMonica•Seles
Other namesMonika Seleš, Моника Селеш
Born2 December 1973 in Novi Sad (SRB)
Measurements179 cm / 70 kg
NOC United States

Biography

Seles was born in Novi Sad, in what was then Yugoslavia. She came to prominence as a teenager, winning the 1990 French Open when she was only 16-years-old. In the next three years Seles won the French Open three times (1990-92), the Australian Open three times (1991-93), and the US Open twice (1991-92). She also lost in the Wimbledon final, to Graf, in 1992. Seles took over the #1 world ranking from Graf in March 1991, and with her youth and her power, especially on the forehand side, she appeared set to win multiple Grand Slam events in the coming decade. But for a crazed German fan of Steffi Graf, a nine-inch knife, and lax tournament security, many tennis experts feel Monica Seles might have become the greatest female tennis player of all-time.

On 30 April 1993, Seles was playing Magdalena Maleeva in a match in Hamburg, Germany. On one of the breaks, Günter Parche, a crazed fan of Graf’s, ran from the crowd and stabbed Seles in the back, near a shoulder blade. Physically, the wounds were somewhat superficial, but the emotional trauma of the attack never left her. Parche was charged with the assault and battery, but was ruled psychologically unstable and never served time. Seles was outraged over the final ruling and vowed to never compete in Germany again.

Seles was eventually treated at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail, Colorado, and later settled permanently in the United States, becoming a US citizen in March 1994. She had first come to the US to train in 1986 at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida. Seles eventually represented the US at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games, and competed from 1994 onward under the US flag. She helped the US win the Fed Cup in 1996, 1999, and 2000.

Seles returned to the WTA Tour in August 1995. There was some discussion of returning her to the #1 ranking, alongside then #1 Steffi Graf, and this occurred despite some criticism. She made it to the final of the 1995 and 1996 US Open, losing both to Graf, and Seles won the 1996 Australian Open, but she was never again the dominant player she had been before the attack. Seles also lost in the final of the 1998 French Open. After the attack Seles won six WTA titles, including the 2000 Italian Open.

Seles effectively retired during the 2003 season, hobbled by a foot injury, although her formal retirement announcement came only in November 2008. Considered one of the greatest women players ever, despite her shortened career, Martina Navratilova, in a 2013 interview noted that if Seles had not been stabbed, “We’d be talking about Monica with the most Grand Slam titles [ahead of] Margaret Court or Steffi Graf.”

Results

Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1996 Summer Olympics Tennis USA Monica Seles
Singles, Women (Olympic) =5
2000 Summer Olympics Tennis USA Monica Seles
Singles, Women (Olympic) 3 Bronze