You don’t need to be a fan of Monica Seles to know she was performing. It was the first time you heard her.
Her shrieks and grunts were as well-known as her crushing two-handed forward and reverse hand. U.K. newspaper The Telegraph reported that she was the source of inspiration for Wimbledon’s Centre Court “grunt-o-meter”. It measured her decibel levels at 93.2, which is comparable to a police horn loud home appliances as well as a pneumatic drill and not too far from the Jackhammer.
The more intense the event, the greater the volume, and the louder Seles was, which meant that throughout her career, she often reached rocket launch levels. “Some people were enthralled by the sound (the grunt), but others were not so keen,” Seles told the Wall Street Journal in 2013. “I grunted from the time I was seven years old. I was a tiny girl and there weren’t kids’ racquets back then. So , my dad simply gave me a tennis racquet for me to play with although I was small so I focused all my energy on it, as I played with my hands from both sides since I had to. This wasn’t a problem until I reached the No. 1. Then the players who always seek to gain some edge began to complain because it was a very competitive field at the end of the day.”
Seles defeated Gabriela Sabatini at the time of the Tour Final at Madison Square Garden 5-6, 5-7, 3-4, 6-4, 7-2. The first women’s five-set match in 89 years declared, “she hits the ball extremely hard.”
From 1991 until 1993, Seles was a part of eight significant singles finals and won seven of them before her 20-year-old birthday. At the age of 18, when the majority of teenagers are choosing their freshman college choices, Seles became the world’s number. #1 ranked athlete, which she held from 1991 to 1992.
Seles was the pillar of the Youth Brigade of teenage superstars that captivated tennis fans during the 1990s. Much like her rival Jennifer Capriati Seles, the ferocious counter-punching Seles started playing tennis relatively young and, in her case, at five years old, when most kids are still in school. The father of her, Karolj, has helped his child develop her talent quickly by teaching her left-handed opponent how to strike the ball using two hands on both sides. At 11 years old, Seles was the winner of the highly coveted Orange Bowl Tournament played in Miami, Florida. This victory was the catalyst for the Seles family to move from Yugoslavia into America. The United States the following year. In two years, she received advanced instruction in the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida, super-charging her rise on the women’s professional circuit.
Seles became a pro in 1989, aged 15 and won her first tournament at The Virginia Slims of Houston over the retiring Chris Evert 3-4 6-1, 4-4. This tennis match (played on clay) was a long, strategic rally, but Seles could smash tennis all day and beat Evert. It marked the beginning of a two 1/2-year period of women’s tennis that the sport hasn’t frequently witnessed. In 1990, when she was 16 years and six months, Seles became the then-youngest major champion of all time and won the French Open by staving off four set points in the initial tiebreaker of the set to beat Steffi Graf 7-6, 7-6. Martina Hingis broke the record for age in 1997, three months younger than her opponent when she won at the Australian Open, but Seles is still one of the youngest French Open champions in history.
Sales have the distinction of having three consecutive French (1990-1992) as well as Australian (1991-1993) titles which is a record she holds unquestionably. Seles is one of just four players to accomplish this feat in Australia, and Seles, as well as Justine Henin (2005-07), are the only three consecutive French Open Champions in history. The year she won it, in the 1992 season, she made the finals of four central singles championships. She was one of just six players who have achieved this distinction.
Seles was unparalleled at securing significant championships. She took six consecutive finals in 1990: French French, 1991 Australian, French, US Open and the U.S. Open in 1992. Australian in 1992, and French. In 1992, when she won the French third time in a row 1992, her name was the only player to have a three-peat after Hilde the Krahwinkel Sperling in 1937.
The determination Seles displayed on the court was apparent. Her grunts at every shot indicated intense effort and were recognized and felt. Seles’s enthusiasm for hitting every ball with force and her speed and directional skills made her opponents struggle to transition from defensive tennis into offensive tennis. Anyone who attempted to compete with Seles experienced the dynamo increase her power to a higher level. Due to her tendency to attack and bounce balls, balls that bounced to her softly or shortly were hit for winners. In her notable singles titles, Seles won in straight sets six times. Jana Novotna took her three groups in her 2001 Australian (5-7, 6-1, 6-3), and Graf took on Seles very hard two times in the 1992 French (6-2, 10-8), 3-6) her most significant major win, and during 1993 Australian (4-6, 3-1 and 6-2).
In the more minor finals of significant tournaments, Seles was a veritable buzzsaw, sweeping aside Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario at the 1991 French (6-3, 6-1), Navratilova at the 1991 U.S. Open (7-6, 6-1), Mary Joe Fernandez at 1992 Australian (6-2, 7-6, 6-3) and Sanchez-Vicario at the 1991 U.S. Open (6-3, 6-3) as well as Anke Huber during 1996 Australian (6-4 6-1). until Hingis defeated her in 1999 at the Australian, Seles had won 33 consecutive games in Melbourne, which was the longest uninterrupted streak in the history of tournaments. Seles was also a finalist in four major tournaments (1992 Wimbledon, 1995 and 1996 U.S. Open, 1998 French).
“People believe that I must have been skilled at an early age however, I’m not sure,” Seles said. “Was it hard or talent work? We don’t know. To reach the top you must be willing to be active all day, all day long.”
As the 1993 season began, Seles stood atop the women’s tennis mountain as the world’s number. One player and the world’s most famous However, within a couple of weeks, she suffered an unexpected tumble, with no one else’s fault. On April 30, she was playing an encounter in the quarterfinals against Magdalena Maleeva in Hamburg, Germany, leading by 6-4 and 6-3. A fervent Steffi Graf supporter, Gunter Parche, would swarm through the stadium during the break for changeovers as he leaned against the side of the court and cut Seles on her shoulders using the boning knife. The incident was so horrific that it forced Seles to suspend her participation for two years of tennis and caused the venue to reconsider the security measures in play.
While she did not return to the same level of excellence, her return to the stage was notable. Sports Illustrated featured the player on the July 17 cover in 1995 in a reflection on her absence of two years from a match she won. In her two-year recovery period, Seles grew two inches and nearly 6 feet tall, which she explained: “helped me serve.” Seles joked that she “ate lots of spinach” and also experienced an increase in her height after she had a rest and refuelled to get to the semi-finals in 1995 as well as 1996 U.S. Open, winning the Australian title in 1996 and then progressing in 1998 to play at the French Open championship match.
1994 was the first time Seles became a U.S. citizen, allowing her to be a part of the American team for Federation Cup play. She helped lead her team in the U.S. to titles in 1996, 1999, 2000, and 1996. She participated in the Hopman Cup for Yugoslavia in 1991 and the U.S. in 2001 and 2002, winning the team event in 1991. She played for the Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta and 2000 in Sydney in Sydney, winning the Bronze Medal in singles in 2000 against Aussie Jelena Djokovic, 6-1, 7-4.
From 2005 until the end of 2007, Seles decreased her schedule for the tour due to injuries, and the pressure of professional tennis took its physical toll. Seles officially retired in February of 2008, aged 34. However, her last match in professional tennis was in 2003. It was an impressive run for Seles with 595-122 records (83 per cent) and winning 53 singles events and six doubles. Seles won 86 per cent of her major matches (180-31), an appearance in the Tour Finals three straight years (1990, 1991, 1990, and 1992), and ten singles events in 1991 and 1992.
Compared to players ranked in the top 10 of the world or more, such as Sabatini, Capriati, Sanchez-Vicario, Pierce, and Mary Joe Fernandez, among others. Seles held a distinct advantage in her overall record, which led Tennis Magazine to place her at 13 thirteenth best male or female player.