|Birth Date||December 2, 1973|
|Hometown||Novi Sad, SR Serbia, SFR Yugoslavia|
|Known For||Professional tennis player|
|Highest Score||15 (Foxtrot & Mambo)|
|Lowest Score||15 (Foxtrot & Mambo)|
Early life and careerEdit
Seles was born in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, current-day Serbia, into an ethnic Hungarian family. Her parents are Ester and Karolj and she has an older brother, Zoltán. She began playing tennis at age five, coached by her father, a professional cartoonist employed for decades at the Dnevnik and Magyar Szó newspapers, who drew pictures for her to make her tennis more fun. He is responsible for developing her two-handed style for both the forehand and backhand. Later, her coach was Jelena Genčić. In 1985, at the age of 11, she won the Junior Orange Bowl tournament in Miami, Florida, catching the attention of tennis coach Nick Bollettieri. She won the Junior Orange Bowl in both the 12- and the 14-year categories, and is one of only nine tennis players to win the Junior Orange Bowl championship twice in its 70-year history, including Andy Murray, Jimmy Connors, Jennifer Capriati, and Yishai Oliel. In 1986 the Seles family moved from Yugoslavia to the United States, and Seles enrolled at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, where she trained for two years.
Seles played her first professional tournament as an amateur in 1988 at age 14. The following year she turned professional on February 13, 1989, and joined the professional tour full-time, winning her first career title at Houston in May 1989, where she beat the soon-to-retire Chris Evert in the final. A month later, Seles reached the semifinals of her first Grand Slam singles tournament at the French Open, losing to then world no. 1 Steffi Graf, 3–6, 6–3, 3–6. Seles finished her first year on the tour ranked world no. 6.
After a slow start at the beginning of the season, Seles went on a 36-match winning streak and won 6 consecutive tournaments starting in Miami at the Lipton Player's Championships. During that winning streak she also won the U.S. Hard Court Championships (San Antonio, Texas), the Eckerd Open (Tampa, Florida), the Italian Open, and the Lufthansa Cup in Berlin, Germany (defeating Steffi Graf in the final in straight sets). Seles then won her first Grand Slam singles title at the 1990 French Open. Facing world no. 1 Steffi Graf in the final, Seles saved four set points in a first set tiebreaker, which she won 8–6, and went on to take the match in straight sets. In doing so, she became the youngest-ever French Open singles titlist at the age of 16 years, 6 months. Her winning streak was stopped by Zina Garrison at Wimbledon in the quarterfinals which went to 9-7 in the 3rd set. Seles then won the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles title against Martina Navratilova 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, and then defeated Navratilova again in winning the Oakland California tournament, in straight sets 6-3, 7-6. She also won the 1990 year-end Virginia Slims Championships, defeating Gabriela Sabatini in five sets (in the first five-set women's match since 1901 US National Championships), becoming the youngest to ever win the Season-Ending Championships. She finished the year ranked world no. 2.
1991 was the first of two years in which Seles dominated the women's tour. She started out by winning the Australian Open in January, beating Jana Novotná in the final. In March, she replaced Graf as the world no. 1. She then successfully defended her French Open title, beating the former youngest-ever winner, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, in the final. Unable to play at Wimbledon, suffering from shin splints, Seles took a six-week break. But she was back in time for the US Open, which she won by beating Martina Navratilova in the final, her third Grand Slam title of the year, to cement her position at the top of the world rankings. She also won the year-end Virginia Slims Championships for the second consecutive time, defeating Navratilova in four sets. At the end of season, Seles had won 10 out of the 16 tournaments she entered (reaching the final of every tournament that she entered that year). She ended the year as the #1 ranked player in the world.
1992 was an equally dominant year. Seles successfully defended her titles at the Australian Open, the French Open, and the US Open. She also reached her first-ever final at Wimbledon, but lost to Graf, 2–6, 1–6. During Wimbledon, Seles encountered difficulty because of her habit of grunting or shrieking loudly when hitting shots. A couple of London tabloid reporters brought decibel meters (jokingly labeled "Grunt-o-meters") to her matches to measure the loudness of her shrieks. Her quarterfinal opponent Nathalie Tauziat was the first to complain to the chair umpire about it. During the third set of her semi-final match against Martina Navratilova, Navratilova also complained to the chair umpire about the grunting after Seles went up a break at 4-2. Seles ended up losing the game and the break, but broke back and closed out the match.
From January 1991 through February 1993, Seles won 22 titles and reached 33 finals out of the 34 tournaments she played. She compiled a 159–12 win-loss record (92.9% winning percentage), including a 55–1 win-loss record (98%) in Grand Slam tournaments. In the broader context of her first four years on the circuit (1989–1992), Seles had a win-loss record of 231–25 (90.2%) and collected 30 titles. She once again ended the year as the #1 ranked player in the world.
Seles was the top women's player heading into 1993, having won the French Open three consecutive years and both the US Open and Australian Open in consecutive years. In January 1993, Seles defeated Graf in the final of the Australian Open, which to date was her third win in four Grand Slam finals against Graf. With eight Grand Slam singles titles before her 20th birthday on December 2, 1993, Seles holds the record for most Grand Slam singles titles won as a teenager in the Open Era. She then won the Virginia Slims of Chicago over Martina Navratilova in 3 sets. This was the last title that Seles won before the attack in Hamburg, Germany.
On April 30 during a quarterfinal match with Magdalena Maleeva in Hamburg in which Seles was leading 6–4, 4–3, Günter Parche, an obsessed fan of Steffi Graf, ran from the middle of the crowd to the edge of the court during a break between games and stabbed Seles with a boning knife between her shoulder blades, to a depth of 1.5 cm (0.59 inches). She was quickly rushed to a hospital. Although her physical injuries took only a few weeks to heal, she did not return to competitive tennis for more than two years. Initially, there was speculation that the attack may have been politically motivated because Seles was from Yugoslavia. She was known to have received death threats in relation to the ongoing conflict in her native Yugoslavia. However, German authorities were quick to rule this out, describing her attacker as confused and possibly mentally disturbed.
Parche was charged following the incident, but was not jailed because he was found to be psychologically abnormal, and was instead sentenced to two years' probation and psychological treatment. The incident prompted a significant increase in the level of security at tour events. At the French Open, held less than a month after the attack, the trophy presentation ceremony took place on the court, rather than in the stands amongst spectators, as it had been done previously. At that year's Wimbledon, the players seats were positioned with their backs to the umpire's chair, rather than the spectators. Seles, however, disputed the effectiveness of these measures. She was quoted in 2011 as saying "From the time I was stabbed, I think the security hasn't changed". Seles vowed never to play tennis in Germany again, disenchanted by the German legal system. "What people seem to be forgetting is that this man stabbed me intentionally and he did not serve any sort of punishment for it... I would not feel comfortable going back. I don't foresee that happening."
Young Elders, a band from Melbourne, Australia, sent their song called "Fly Monica Fly" to Seles while she was recuperating from the 1993 stabbing incident. She later said that the song provided inspiration to her at that time, and subsequently met the band (who later changed their name to the Monicas) following her victory at the Australian Open in 1996. The stabbing incident is the subject of Dan Bern's 1998 tribute to Seles, "Monica". Additionally, Detroit dreampop band Majesty Crush paid tribute with "Seles" from the 1993 album Love-15. Hugh Laurie wrote a parody song about the motivations of the attacker.
The WTA suggested that Seles' number one ranking be preserved during her absence, but did not do so. According to Seles' autobiography, all active tour players opposed the idea except Gabriela Sabatini, who abstained.
Seles returned to the tour in August 1995. In the runup to her comeback, then WTA president Martina Navratilova proposed that Seles be reinstated alongside Steffi Graf as joint number one. The WTA did so despite some opposition from players including Arantxa Sánchez Vicario and Gigi Fernández, whose tournament placements would suffer greatly by suddenly being placed behind Seles. Graf supported Seles' co-ranking, but not the additional proposal that Seles' co-ranking not be determined by the minimum participation of 12 tournaments a year required of everyone else. Graf felt that would give Seles an unfair advantage in the rankings. Seles won her first comeback tournament, the Canadian Open, beating Amanda Coetzer in the final, 6–0, 6–1 and setting a tournament record for least number of games dropped by the champion throughout the tournament (14). The following month at the US Open, Seles reached the final defeating world No.10 Anke Huber, No.4 Jana Novotná, No.3 Conchita Martínez (all in straight sets), but lost to Graf in the final, 6–7, 6–0, 3–6.
In January 1996, Seles won her fourth Australian Open, beating Anke Huber in the final. Her pivotal match was the semifinal vs rising American star Chanda Rubin who led her 5-3 in the final set, and had 2 break points to lead 5-1. Seles came back from 2 points from defeat to triumph and reach the final. This was to be Seles' last Grand Slam title, as she struggled to recapture her best form on a consistent basis. Seles was the runner-up at the US Open to Steffi Graf again in 1996. Her last Grand Slam final came at the French Open in 1998. In the run to the final she had defeated world no. 3 Jana Novotná in three sets and world no. 1 Martina Hingis in straight sets, but lost to Sánchez Vicario in the three-set final.
While she did not reach another Grand Slam singles final, she did consistently reach the quarterfinal and semifinal stages in those tournaments and was a fixture in the WTA Tour's top 10. In 2002, her last full year on the tour, she finished the year ranked world no. 7, defeated Venus Williams, Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati, Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, and Lindsay Davenport, and reached at least the quarterfinals at each Grand Slam tournament.
Monica Seles competed at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, where she beat Sabatini in a third round match before losing to Jana Novotná in the quarterfinals. Four years later, at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Seles captured her first Olympic medal, a bronze in singles. She defeated Jelena Dokic in the bronze medal match, after pushing eventual gold medalist Venus Williams to a tough 3 setter in the semis, losing 6-3 in the final set.
After becoming a U.S. citizen in 1994, Seles helped the U.S. team win the Fed Cup in 1996, 1999, and 2000.
Hiatus and retirementEdit
In the spring of 2003, Seles sustained a foot injury. She was forced to withdraw during the second set of a match against Nadia Petrova at the Italian Open. Then, a couple of weeks later and still injured, she lost in straight sets to the same player in the first round of the 2003 French Open. It was the only time she ever lost a first-round match at a Grand Slam. She never again played an official tour match.
In February 2005, Seles played two exhibition matches in New Zealand against Navratilova. Despite losing both matches, she played competitively and announced that she could return to the game early in 2006; however, she did not do so. She played three exhibition matches against Navratilova in 2007. On April 5, she defeated Navratilova in Houston, Texas, on clay, 7–6 (1), 2–6, 10–1 (tiebreak). On September 14, Seles defeated Navratilova on an indoor court in New Orleans, Louisiana, 6–2, 6–4. On September 16, she beat her on clay in Bucharest, Romania, 3–6, 6–3, 10–7 (tiebreak).
In December 2007, Seles told the press that Lindsay Davenport's successful return to the tour had inspired her to consider her own limited comeback to play Grand Slam tournaments and the major warm-up events for those tournaments. However, on February 14, 2008, Seles announced her official retirement from professional tennis.
In January 2009, Seles was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
On April 21, 2009, Seles released her memoir Getting A Grip: On My Body, My Mind, My Self which chronicles her bout with depression and binge eating disorder (BED) after her stabbing, her father's cancer diagnosis and eventual death, her journey back to the game and a life beyond tennis.
Since 2009, Seles has been dating billionaire Tom Golisano, some 32 years her senior. The two announced their engagement on June 5, 2014.
As of 2015, Seles is a paid spokesperson for Shire Pharmaceuticals, the makers of the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat BED, to raise awareness of the disorder she has suffered from since she was a young adult. Seles would eat normal amounts of food at meals, and then secretly eat large amounts of junk food when she was alone.
Dancing with the Stars 6Edit
|Week #||Dance/Song||Judges' score||Result|
|2||Mambo/ "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)"||5||5||5||Eliminated|