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Monica Seles

Monica Seles (born December 2, 1973) is a Hungarian-American and former Yugoslavian professional tennis player. Seles has won nine Grand Slam singles titles and became the youngest-ever champion at the French Open in 1990. She was the top ranked player in the women's game during 1991 and 1992.
She began playing tennis at the age of six, coached by her father Károly Seleš. She won her first tournament at the age of nine, despite not fully understanding the scoring system of the game and having only a vague idea of whether she was leading or trailing her opponents during matches. In 1985 at the age of 11, she won the Orange Bowl tournament in Miami, Florida, and caught the attention of tennis coach Nick Bollettieri. In 1986, the Seleš family moved from Yugoslavia to the United States, and Monica enrolled in the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, where she trained for two years. Seles played her first professional tournament in 1988 at the age of 14. The following year, she joined the professional tour full-time and won her first career title at Houston in May 1989, where she beat Chris Evert in the final. A month later, Seles reached the semifinals in her first Grand Slam singles tournament at the French Open, where she lost to World No. 1 Steffi Graf, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 . Seles finished her first year on the tour ranked World No. 6. With punishing two-fisted forehand and backhand shots and a strong return of serve, Seles is considered by many to be the first "power player" in the women's game, paving the way for subsequent players like Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, and Maria Sharapova. She was also well-known for grunting loudly on court. On a few occasions, her opponents claimed that the grunting was distracting and prevented them from hearing the ball make contact with her racquet.
Seles won her first Grand Slam singles title at the French Open in 1990. Facing World No. 1 Steffi Graf in the final, Seles saved four set-points in a first-set tie-breaker, 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 champion at the age of 16 years, 6 months. 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. However, instead of playing at Wimbledon, she took a six-week break, blaming shin splints. But she was back in time for the U.S. Open, and won it beating Martina Navrátilová in the final to cement her position at the top of the world rankings. She also helped Yugoslavia win the Hopman Cup that year and won the season-ending championships, beating Navratilova in four sets. 1992 was an equally dominant year. She successfully defended her titles at the Australian Open, the French Open, and the U.S. Open. She also reached the final at Wimbledon, but could not manage to break Graf's dominance on the grass court surface and lost 6-2, 6-1.
During the period from January 1991 to 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 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% winning percentage) and collected 30 titles. Only Evert had a better first four years in terms of winning percentage (91.1% from 1971 to 1974) and titles (34) in the open era. However, Seles was unable to maintain that high a winning percentage for the remainder of her career. Seles was the top women's player heading into 1993. In January 1993, Seles won the Australian Open over Graf, her fourth win in ten matches against her German rival. However, everything changed following an incident that shocked the tennis world on April 30, 1993. During a quarterfinal match with Magdalena Maleeva in Hamburg that Seles was leading in 6-4, 4-3, a 38-year-old deranged man, Günter Parche ran from the middle of the crowd to the edge of the court during a break between games and plunged a steak knife between Seles's shoulder blades. She let out a piercing scream and was quickly rushed to a hospital. Her physical injuries took a few weeks to heal, but the psychological scars from this incident left a much deeper impression on Seles. She did not return to competitive tennis for over two years. 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. After the incident, Graf re-established herself as the leading player on the women's tour and regained the World No. 1 ranking. During her layoff from competitive tennis, Seles became a United States citizen on May 17, 1994.
Seles returned to the tour in August 1995 and won her first comeback tournament, the Canadian Open, beating Amanda Coetzer in the final 6-1, 6-0. Many believed that she would soon be dominating the circuit again in the way she was before the 1993 stabbing incident. The following month at the U.S. Open, Seles lost the final to Graf 7-6, 0-6, 6-3. In January 1996, Seles won her fourth Australian Open, beating Anke Huber in the final. But this was to be her last Grand Slam title. Seles struggled to recapture her best form on a regular basis. Her difficulties were compounded by having to cope with her father and long-term coach Karolj being stricken by cancer and eventually passing away in 1998. Seles was runner-up at the U.S. Open to Graf again in 1996. Her last Grand Slam final came at the French Open in 1998 (a few weeks after her father's death). She defeated world No. 3 Novotna in three sets and world No. 1 Martina Hingis in straight sets before losing to Sánchez Vicario in three sets. After becoming a U.S. citizen, Seles helped the U.S. team win the Fed Cup in 1996 and 2000. She also won a bronze medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
In the spring of 2003, Seles sustained a foot injury that has sidelined her from the tour ever since. In February 2005, she played two exhibition matches in New Zealand against Navrátilová. Although Seles lost both matches, she played competitively and announced that she could return to the game early in 2006. She has not done so, however. She was listed as the 13th greatest player of all time (men and women) by Tennis magazine and was also one of 15 women named by Australian Tennis magazine as the greatest champions of the last 30 years (players were listed chronologically in Australian tennis Magazine). Seles is also known as one of the greatest "big point" players of all-time, having tremendous mental fortitude during the toughest situations on the court. Seles is single and lives in Florida

Grand Slam singles finals

Year Championship Position Opponent Score
1990 French Open Champion Steffi Graf 7-6(6), 6-4
1991 Australian Open Champion Jana Novotná 5-7, 6-3, 6-1
1991 French Open Champion Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario 6-3, 6-4
1991 U.S. Open Champion Martina Navratilova 7-6(1), 6-1
1992 Australian Open Champion Mary Joe Fernandez 6-2, 6-3
1992 French Open Champion Steffi Graf 6-2, 3-6, 10-8
1992 U.S. Open Champion Anke Huber 6-3, 6-3
1993 Australian Open Champion Steffi Graf 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
1996 Australian Open Champion Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario 6-4, 6-1
1992 Wimbledon Runner-Up Steffi Graf 6-2, 6-1
1995 U.S. Open Runner-Up Steffi Graf 7-6(6), 0-6, 6-3
1996 U.S. Open Runner-Up Steffi Graf 7-5, 6-4
1998 French Open Runner-Up Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario 7-6(5), 0-6, 6-2

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