Monica Sales could have been the greatest female tennis player of all time had she not met with the stabbing incident in 1993. She was 20 years old and already was the winner of 8 Grand Slam titles. The unfortunate incident changed the entire dynamics and she had to settle with a total of 9 Grand Slam titles.
Nevertheless, she remains one of the icons of the sport to this day. The former world number 1 recalls fragments of her career which have defined her all these while. Sales shot up the headlines in 1990 when she won the Roland Garros at the age of 16.
Her talent was noticed right away and definitely, she considers that moment to be the gateway of her successful career. “A moment that will forever stand out is my 1990 French Open win because that was the first Grand Slam tournament that I won as a 16-year-old”, recalls Sales.
“Until that moment, when you enter the pro tour, there are a lot of expectations, but deep inside you're essentially still a teenager and you're just trying to figure out ‘OK, am I really good at this’? “ Three years down the line she won her eighth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open 1993.
She bookmarks this victory as she was able to come of her age to balance her career and passion along with withstanding the pressure of expectations from her fans and sponsors. “The other defining moment would definitely have to be the 1993 Australian Open, because up to that point, as a teenager, I was going through personal stuff, just figuring out what I wanted to do, being so young what you do is magnified, yet from your sponsors, everybody, you know, there's pressure to always perform, play tournaments, and I think that by January of ‘93 I had found the balance.
Monica Sales struggle to crawl out from her vertex
Sales faced a moment of crisis in 1993 when she was stabbed in court. She had to be sidelined for two years owing to this incident. It was more of a psychological impact for her as she refined herself all these years to gather a balance only to face an unknown fear of being away from tennis.
“It was even more difficult in ‘93 when I got stabbed, and my whole world collapsed. I had worked so hard internally and externally to find the balance, so it really threw me into what I call a vortex, at that moment.
A champion always remains a champion. After making her comeback in 1995, she went on to win her ninth Grand Slam in the Australian Open of 1996. Sales mark this Grand Slam for her return to tennis as well as for the fact her greatest inspiration-her father got to see her play with ease after the horrendous incident.
“And then coming out of it about two and a half years later, really the victory that I think will probably be the most special would have to be the Australian Open in 1996, because it was my first Grand Slam coming back after my stabbing, and it was the last Grand Slam that my dad really got to watch me in a way, being healthy and not going through treatment”.