It was a much happier Monica Seles that one saw during the Laureus World Sports Awards function here on Tuesday. The horrific past — a man stabbed her from behind in 1993 when she was the No. 1 ranked women’s tennis player during a break between games in Hamburg — is well behind her.
As an Ambassador of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, Seles is seriously into quite a few social initiatives. In this interaction with the media, the 36-year-old, winner of nine Grand Slam singles titles, says why she believes 2010 will turn out to be very interesting for women’s tennis.
On Laureus: Though I have attended the awards function many times before, I became an Academy member recently when Edwin Moses, Chairman, Laureus Academy, requested me. I believe in the message of Laureus and what it stands for.
I am honoured to be invited for the function. I have been involved in a project in South Africa and two different projects in New York. I went to the White House this year to push for equality for women’s sports.
On sports making a change: The life skills that sport teaches you are really invaluable. From discipline to having a good body, there are a lot of things young girls can learn from sports.
On Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin’s comeback: I think for Kim to have a child along the way and come back and win a Grand Slam (US Open) last year was really amazing.
The way she played with such mental toughness and conviction in the US Open will be an inspiration for any women.
Justine’s comeback is great for the sport. She has already shown her mettle in the Australian Open this year (she lost to Serena in the final). I think 2010 is going to be as good as it can get.
With the two pushing Serena, Venus Williams, Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic and Dinara Safina, it is going to be really good. To me all this is going to be great as a tennis fan.
On rivalries: Definitely, as a former player when I watch, I’d like the best players to play against each other. That’s where you see the highest level of tennis being played. The Australian Open was great.
The French Open will be even more interesting. Justine will be the favourite to win the French Open. But Kim is a great mover and a fantastic player. I can’t wait for the French Open to start and watch Kim and Justine play.
On highs and lows: I have faced my share of highs and lows. I have no regrets. The highs were in my control while the lows were not.
Other activities you are involved in: I do tennis clinics for kids in the USA as I like them to get involved in sports. I also give motivational speeches for women on weight loss issues.