Seles to return to court

SARASOTA — It may not be Wimbledon, but Sarasota’s Monica Seles will take her first step back to competitive tennis tonight when she plays a World TeamTennis match in Delaware.

Seles, who has been sidelined by a foot injury since losing to Nadia Petrova in the first round of the 2003 French Open, will play for the New York Sportimes franchise in a match against the Delaware Smash.

“Right now, my foot is holding up well,” said Seles, who worked out Wednesday morning at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton and was scheduled to leave this morning for her match. “I have been training pretty hard these past few weeks trying to get ready for team tennis.”

Seles, 30, twisted her left foot during the Australian Open in January 2003 and played on and off until the loss to Petrova at Roland Garros finally ended her season.

The Sarasota resident had hoped to return in time for the French Open this year but aggravated her left foot while training. She has spent much of her time rehabbing the foot in New York.

“It has been really frustrating,” Seles said about the stress fracture that had her in a cast for several weeks.

Seles will play tonight, then play a home match in Mamaroneck, N.Y., on Friday. She is scheduled to play Sunday at Newport Beach, Calif.

“After that, we will see how the foot holds up,” Seles said. “I am taking it a day at a time, but it had been holding up well in practice so far.”

Seles flew to London last week to catch a match at Wimbledon and play an exhibition with John McEnroe on a barge floating down the Thames.

“I had a great time doing that,” Seles said. “Seeing all the London landmarks floating by while playing tennis was awesome.

“And to have a chance to play John, who is one of my heroes, was like a dream I didn’t want to be woken up from.”

Seles has won 53 singles titles in her career, including nine Grand Slam singles championships. She has also been a mainstay on the U.S Federation Cup teams since becoming an American citizen in 1994.

Seles hopes to be back in top form by the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 30 at Flushing Meadows, N.Y.