WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Under a ceiling of dark clouds,Monica Seles gathered her rackets and towel and trudged off Centre Court, stopping for a moment to sign a few autographs.
Even she’s uncertain how many times she might take that walk again.
Wimbledon is the only major Seles has never won and she lost in the quarterfinals Tuesday, beaten by 2001 runner-up Justine Henin 7-5, 7-6 (4) in a match interrupted twice by rain.
At 28, Seles has hinted at the possibility of retiring in the near future, although she maintains she still could win what would be her 10th Grand Slam title.
I don't want to have that pressure to say, 'OK, I'm going to definitely retire by this certain date or this year.' No need to do that. I'm not a person who is going to have a farewell tour or that stuff,'' Seles said.I’m just going to play, and when that point comes that my body (is tired) or mentally I’m tired of it, I’ll stop, enjoy life a little bit.”
Asked Tuesday if she might have to accept that Wimbledon will be the one that got away, the fourth-seeded Seles said: “Oh, yeah, definitely that could be the case. I’m fine with that.”
She never quite seemed comfortable against No. 6 Henin, looking as though she couldn’t decide whether to swap swats from the baseline or try to come to the net.
Just having a hard time finding the range with my groundstrokes. I was missing a lot more,'' said Seles, who had 23 unforced errors to 16 for Henin.And when that was the case, I said, ‘OK, let’s just try to change that up.’ But it’s kind of hard to do that.”
She still can hit the ball about as hard as always, and often managed to find the lines Tuesday with those same two-handed strokes from both sides.
Another thing that never changed over the years — the two-note grunts accompanying each swing. They are a sort of audio Rorschach test everyone can take: What word or words do you hear?
Seles turned pro at age 15 in 1989. By the time she was 19, she had won eight Grand Slam titles. Yet she’s been past the quarters only once at the All England Club — in 1992, when she lost to Steffi Graf in the final.
Less than a year later, on April 30, 1993, a man climbed out of the stands at a tournament in Hamburg, Germany, and stabbed her. The psychological and physical scars took time to heal.
“That made me the person that I am. Certain things you cannot forget. That changed the course of my career,” she said.
“There’s no need to go back there, you know, day in, day out, to revisit that. That’s part of me and that will always stay there. But at the same time, right now I’m in a happy position.”
Seles returned to the game 27 months later and displayed remarkable resilience. That she was back on court was impressive in itself; that she immediately reached the 1995 U.S. Open final and then won the ’96 Australian Open was downright stunning.
In May 1998, her father and coach, Karolj, died of cancer. She wore his ring around a chain on her neck during that year’s French Open, the last time she reached a major final.
Oh, I really want to add any Grand Slam title,'' she said Tuesday,but obviously Wimbledon even more because I’ve never won it.”