Monica Seles: ‘Serena Williams World No. 1? I understood it 19 years ago’

In a press conference at the ongoing WTA Singapore finals, the ambassador of the event, Monica Seles spoke about the main players of the WTA Tour starting with the World No. 1 Angelique Kerber who, according to Seles, is the favorite to win this tournament.

‘I think she has matured so well, playing really consistent tennis. I’m so impressed with how strong she is, mentally. To have the breakthrough, winning the Australian Open, was huge – beating Serena Williams like that.

But it was even bigger to win the US Open, knowing all the pressure of being No.1, winning a second Grand Slam to solidify it. Sometimes in winning the first one, you still have that innocence and can play without pressure.

But when it comes to the second, and having that extra little pressure, I was very impressed with how well she handled it.’

One of the players, who would like to have a year like Kerber’s is Agnieszka Radwanska, who has said many times that she wants to win a Grand Slam.

Seles wishes to see it happen: ‘As a player who played the sport and now loves to watch it, it’s wonderful to watch players making their breakthrough. You’d hope a player like Radwanska, who won this event, will have a breakthrough where she puts it together at a Grand Slam too.

Once a few players are exiting the tour, there will be a lot more changes at the top. She seems to play so well at the lead-up tournaments, but I think she has the game where she could really pull through and do what Kerber did.

But you have to give so much credit to Kerber and her team for putting it all together at 28.’

Asked who,for her, is the Greatest Player of All Time, Seles said: ‘I think Serena, Stefanie Graf, and Martina Navratilova are still fighting it out; it will depend on what Serena ends up doing for the next few years.

It’s unfortunate that Serena had periods where she wasn’t able to play on because of injuries, because she is still playing unbelievable tennis at 35, but it’s definitely not her prime, the way it was when she was in her late 20s.

To have a player like Serena has been great for the sport across the board.’

Then she revealed an interesting anecdote about Serena that shows how talented she was already at the very beginning of her career: ‘I remember when I played Serena; she was 16, and we were playing in Chicago.

I was No.1 in the world, and I lost to her; I told my agent that my days at No.1 were numbered because you could just feel that she was already a player who was so complete. I know everyone talks about how strong she is physically, but her groundstrokes, fundamentals, and technique are all very sound.

As someone who loves the sport, I want to see her healthy next year, and try to go for a few more major wins.’

About Maria Sharapova, who will return to the competition in April or May after the 15-month doping ban, Seles finally said: ‘I think she’s probably one of the toughest competitors that the tour had.

She’s mentally very strong. She’s never been a player that needed a lot of matches, kind of like Serena, to play well. I don’t think there’ll be any trauma to work through with her, so I think she’ll do well coming back.

It might take a few matches for her, but I’m not sure it’ll even take that long.’