No retirement, wedding plans for Seles

Monica Seles has heard the rumors of her retirement so many times that she hardly notices them anymore.

It was the rumor of her impending marriage that caught Seles by surprise.

Seles, home to visit her mother recently, walked into a Sarasota business and a man she knows asked her about the rumor she was getting married.

“I have no idea where that one is coming from,” Seles said. “It completely blew me away.

“It’s not true … and the other one isn’t true, either.”

The other rumor has much more credence. Seles has hardly played the past two years. A foot injury threatens to end her career. While she hasn’t called it quits, Seles concedes that the end of her tennis career could come sooner rather than later.

“By January, I will make a decision,” Seles said. “If I can’t play then I probably will (retire). But not until January. I am trying to get ready to play this year. I don’t want to talk about it because I am still trying so hard. I am not going into it with that frame of mind.”

Seles, 30, was the dominant player in women’s tennis in the early 1990s and ranked No. 1 at the time she was stabbed by a crazed fan during a tournament in Germany in 1993. Though she has had her moments since returning after a two-year absence, she never completely recaptured the magic that led her to winning eight of the final nine Grand Slam events she played before the attack.

She did win another Australian Open and got to a pair of U.S. Open finals and a French Open final after coming back. She even reached at least the quarterfinals of all four Grand Slam events in 2002 but the past two years have been plagued by a series of setbacks because of a stress fracture in her left foot.

Seles practiced and rehabbed most of this past year and planned several times to play but her foot wouldn’t hold up. She has not played a match on tour since losing in the first round of the 2003 French Open.

Once again, Seles has been practicing, mostly in San Diego. This week, she returned to New York to have her foot checked.

“I am trying to stay in a positive frame of mind,” Seles said. “I have been feeling good. I have been hitting in the morning and then in the afternoon about three times a week. It is feeling better.”

The plan is to play a lower level tournament in early January, starting in New Zealand or a tournament in Canberra, Australia. The Australian Open is later in January.

Even if she does return, Seles acknowledges that she probably would not play for more than another year, “but at least one more year would be great.”

Several times during the past year the foot seemed to be progressing but wouldn’t hold up to the rigors of tournament tennis. Each time, rumors of retirement grew.

Seles is determined not to give in to those rumors without one more good try.

“I have not said that to anyone,” Seles insisted about plans to retire.