Seles recalls pain of being cut off from the game

Abu Dhabi: Recounting one of the darkest moments in the history of sport, former tennis great Monica Seles recalled her struggle to stage a comeback after being stabbed by a stalker on court while still at the peak of her game.

Seles was world number one when she was stabbed in the back during the quarterfinal of a tournament in Hamburg in 1993 and was rushed to hospital with a wound half-an-inch (1.5cm) deep in her upper back.

Speaking to Gulf News in an exclusive interview during her visit to Abu Dhabi in connection with the Laureus Awards, Seles said, “It was definitely a very difficult period. At that time I was only 19 years old. And at the top of the sport.”

“But one of the things I am so proud of is that I tried to come back and do something that I really enjoyed doing, which is playing tennis,” said the American star.

Seles said she has managed to put that incident behind her now and never even thinks about it now.

“Not at all, that was in 1993, it is history, I am very much happy now.”

No regrets

“I retired from sport officially two years ago. And I look back at how wonderful my career was.

“As a little girl I picked up a tennis racket when I was six years old. And never dreamt of where tennis would take me.

“Now I am 36, life comes with a lot of highs and a lot of lows and I definitely had both.

“The Bottom line is that I got to do something I loved. And enjoyed it,” said the winner of nine Grand Slam titles, eight of them as a Yugoslavian and one after taking US citizenship.

When asked is she felt she had any unfinished business, Seles said, “Not really, never thought of it that way.

“One of the things I knew when I stepped out each time on the tennis court was to give 110 per cent, so for me that was very important and now when I look back, I really don’t have any regrets.”

“I had a wonderful set of parents who helped me in sports, education, they gave me a wonderful balance.”

Seles, who took part when the inaugural Dubai Open women’s tennis was played said she would love to be here in Abu Dhabi as a fan the very first year there is a women’s tennis event.

“Well it [Abu Dhabi] is just beautiful. I wish we had a women’s tournament here in Abu Dhabi . I very much hope we will. It will be wonderful to have a tournament here. I played during the first tournament in Dubai and I hope I will come here as a spectator when it is held here for the first time,” she said.