Seles says Serena ‘a legend’

Seles, a former world No.1, paid tribute to Williams’ remarkable season, which saw the American win the French, Wimbledon and US Open.
“The season Serena had was really amazing,” Seles said. “The only other players who had that kind of season on the tour during the last 10 years were (Martina) Navratilova, (Steffi) Graf and myself.

“Serena just raised the level of the game and it will be really interesting to see what happens (this) year.”

Seles, the world No.7, is playing the exhibition Hong Kong Ladies Challenge event, along with fellow Americans Chanda Rubin and Alexandra Stevenson and Bulgaria’s star Magdalena Maleeva, as her first warm-up event to the Australian Open.

She has said she will give herself another two years to realise her dream of winning a 10th grand slam title before she retires.

Although Seles and the rest of the WTA Tour were left in the wake of the Williams sisters last season, she has not given up hope of winning another grand slam tournament.

“That’s what drives me,” she said when asked about winning her first grand slam event since triumphing in Australia six years ago.

“I’d love to win another one and keep going as long as I can stay injury free. That will be my goal for 2003 and if I can do that and play at a high level, I will be happy.”

She said her focus was on the Australian Open, where she won a hat-trick of titles from 1991-93.

“I got to a couple of semis (since) and I want to go further than that. I love the Australian,” Seles said.

“The field is extremely tough and I will take it a match at a time.”

Seles was beaten in the semi-finals by last year’s runner-up Martina Hingis.

French No.2 seed Nathalie Dechy breezed into the semi-finals at the Australian Hardcourts on the Gold Coast with a straight sets win over Austria’s Barbara Schett yesterday.

Dechy, who had beaten Australia’s Nicole Pratt in three tough sets, had far less trouble with Schett, winning 6-4 6-2. v Swiss No.1 seed Patty Schnyder reached the semi-finals without picking up a racquet after American Meghann Shaughnessy pulled out with a twisted ankle.