Monica Seles burst onto the professional tennis scene in 1988 at the age of 14, but her story with tennis goes much father back than that. Seles was born in Novi Sad, in the former republic of Yugoslavia in 1973, and started playing tennis at the age of 6. Her father Karolj Seles was hitting tennis balls with Monica in a parking lot and encouraged her to play in tournaments.
When she was 9 years old, Monica won her first tournament, without even knowing all the rules. She simply hit the ball as hard as she could, grunted loudly, and often came out the winner. Monica applied these same techniques to win a 12 and under tournament the next year. With these accomplishments, Seles was named Yugoslavia’s Sportswoman of the year in 1985.
At the age of 14, Monica Seles came to America to compete in the prestigious Orange Bowl in Miami Florida. Seles wiped the floor with the competition, to take home the title, and capture the eye of world famous tennis coach Nick bolletteri. The following year, the Seles family moved to the USA so Monica could further her tennis training at the Bolletteri Academy.
At the Bolletteri academy Seles mainly played against the boys because the females at the camp couldn’t keep up with Monica’s pace. Her training paid of when she beat Chris Evert to win a tourney in Houston, in 1989. After her first year of playing professional tennis, Monica Seles was ranked number 6 in the world.
Over the following years, Monica went on to win dozens of titles and set numerous records. Between 1991 and February 1993, Seles racked up an unbelievable win-loss record of 159-12, and 55-1 in grand slams. In addition, Seles broke numerous records including first player to win her first six grand slam finals, and longest undefeated record, 33-0 at the Australian Open.
Unforunately Monica Seles was not well liked, by players on tour and fans alike. People blamed monica’s arrogance and overly loud grunting on court as reasons for disliking her. This resentment and jealousy lead to a tragic event which was one of the most shocking moments in sports history.
During a quarterfinal match in Hamburg, Germany, Gunter Parche, Monica Seles was stabbed in the back by a crazed fan, Gunter Parche. Parche claimed he only wanted to hinder Seles so that his idol, Steffi Graf (Monica’s rival) could regain her dominance that Seles snatched away. Monica was rushed to the hospital, thankfully she was not seriously injured, but mentally she was scarred very deeply.
In a sick turn of events, Gunter’s plan worked and Steffi Graf once again became the number one ranked women’s tennis player in the world. Two years after the incident, Monica Seles reluctantly returned to tennis, and was moderately successful. Seles won her first tournament back, in Canada, and even went on to win The Australian Open in 1996. But Monica never regained the dominance she once had as a teen.
In 2003 Seles complained of a stress fracture in her foot, which has lingered, and prevented her from playing competitively for the past years. Seles has now all but retired from tennis, although Monica has said on a few occasions that she would like to return, but at 32, it seems highly unlikely.
Monica loves the game of tennis, and if she isn’t playing, she is promoting. In May 2006, Seles was shaping up the future tennis greats in Barcelona, with a youth tennis clinic.