Monica Seles is considered one of the strongest tennis players in history. During her career she was number one in the WTA rankings for 178 weeks, winning a total of 53 WTA singles titles, including 9 Grand Slams and 3 WTA Championships, and 6 in doubles. She won the bronze medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympics thanks to her success against Serbian Jelena Dokic, also winning the Fed Cup three times with the United States in 1996, 1999 and 2000.
In the 1990s she was the protagonist with Steffi Graf of a super tennis rivalry. In 1993 she was the victim of an attack at the Hamburg tournament by a morbid Graf fan who stabbed her in the back, causing a not too serious wound, which however caused her devastating psychological effects so as to jeopardize the rest of her life. career. She stayed away from tennis from 2003 onwards, she officially announced her retirement from competition in 2008 at the age of 34.
On April 30, 1993, at the Hamburg tournament, Seles was attacked with a knife on the pitch, during the quarter-final match that saw her opposite the Bulgarian Magdalena Maleeva. Gunther Parche, the aggressor, was an obsessive and morbid fan of Steffi Graf who with that gesture intended to restore the primacy in the ranking to the German tennis player.
Another obscure reconstruction, which wants the attack linked to the political orientation of Seles, and of her father Karoly, has never found official confirmation or, perhaps, sufficient investigation. The wound, not too serious, affected her back, at the height of her left shoulder. However, she caused her a serious psychological shock, causing her to abandon tennis for over two years.
On the occasion all of her colleagues, with the exception of Sabatini, rejected the WTA's proposal to freeze her number one ranking until her return to competition. Seles, at just 19, had already won eight Grand Slam titles and still had plenty of room for improvement. Immediately after the assault and the withdrawal of Seles, Steffi Graf returned to the top of the world rankings. Following the attack, Monica Seles will decide never to set foot in Germany again.