We all have experienced failure. Even the best of us have had our dreams crushed. What defines us is not failure but how we learn to pick ourselves up.Here’s one such story which will definitely inspire you on one of those days when you have just given up hope:
Youngest World No. 1 in tennis history
In the late 1980s, it was hard to imagine a fiercer fighter than Steffi Graf. But Monica Seles sweated, scraped, groaned, and gruntled her way to the top becoming the youngest ever World No. 1 in tennis history (17 years, 3 months, 9 days).At 16, Seles became the youngest woman ever to win the French Open and in a two-year-stretch, she won 8 of the next 12 Grand Slams, while not even playing at the Wimbledon in 1991.
Many thought she was destined to be the best women’s tennis player in history.
April 30th, 1993: That fateful day
After her title at the 1993 Australian Open, it looked like she might just tear through the season and win a calendar-year Grand Slam. But fate had other plans.
On April 30 1993, Seles was playing against Magdelena Maleeva at the Citizen Cup in Hamburg, Germany. During a break in her match, when she was seated courtside, a man named Guenter Parche came down from the stands and stabbed her in the back.
Guenter, obsessed with Seles’ rival was arrested but not jailed as he was found to be ‘psychologically abnormal’.
Seles returned to tennis in 1995
Despite the 40 pounds she had gained, her comeback story is inspiring. Seles’ return is as important to women’s tennis as Mike Tyson’s comeback is to heavyweight boxing or Sachin’s comeback from tennis elbow.
At her first match in 1995, the crowd gave her a standing ovation. In terms of both power and willpower, she upped the ante and pointed the way ahead.
It’s no surprise that so many of today’s players, cite her as an inspiration.
1996 Australian Open
Single-mindedness on the court was one of Seles’s great strengths. In January 1996, she won her fourth Australian Open, beating Anke Huber in the final. Not just that, she also won a hard fought semi-final contest against American rising star, Chanda Rubin, saving two match points to triumph and reach the final.
In the finals, she put the strains and stresses of the injuries out of her mind to defeat the eighth seed Anke Huber, 6-4, 6- and capture her fourth Australian Open crown. Holding the trophy over her head and wiping tears from her cheeks, Monica Seles celebrated her first Glam Slam title since being stabbed nearly three years ago.
This was Seles’ last Grand Slam title, as she struggled to recapture her best form.
Announced her retirement in 2008
There never was any retirement announcement until 2008. She just kind of went away. Her return to tennis was significant for a number of reasons, not least the fact that she showed enormous courage to step out on to a tennis court again.
Maybe the worst thing about the whole story is that in April 1993, there really wasn’t much else that could stop Monica Seles. No one in the history of tennis or any sports ever experience what she did on that terrible day. Nothing can recapture the range of her expression – from pain to shock to bewilderment. Had those two years not stalled her career, I wonder what would have happened.
Seles proved there is more to life than smashing a tennis ball. She changed the women’s game altogether and set the bar high for its future champions.
Moral of the story: Nothing is impossible.