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Monica Seles was the dominant player in women’s tennis in the early 1990s. She became a tennis sensation in 1990 when she became the youngest ever winner of the French Open, at 16, beating Steffi Graf in straight sets. With a punishing two-fisted forehand, fierce backhand and a strong return of serve, she is considered by many to be the first power player in the women's game, paving the way for subsequent champions like Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
In her career Seles won nine Grand Slam titles – the Australian Open four times, the French Open three times and the US Open twice. She would have won even more, but in 1993 she was stabbed by a crazed fan of rival player Steffi Graf. Following this incident, she did not play again for over two years and although she had some further success when she returned to full-time competition, winning the 1996 Australian Open, she was never again able to consistently reproduce her best form.
Born in Novi Sad, Serbia (then Yugoslavia), she began playing tennis at the age of six, coached by her father Karolj Seles. She won the prestigious Orange Bowl junior tournament in Miami, Florida, where she caught the attention of tennis coach Nick Bollettieri and in 1986 the Seles family moved from Yugoslavia to the United States and Monica enrolled in the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, where she trained for two years.
Seles played her first professional tournament in 1988 at the age of 14 and won her first career title at Houston in May 1989, where she beat Chris Evert in the final. Seles’s victory at the French Open the following year made her an instant star. Facing Graf in the final, she saved four set-points in a first-set tie-breaker, which she ultimately won 8-6, and went on to take the match in straight-sets and become the youngest ever French Open champion at the age of 16 years 6 months.
From 1991 to 1993, Seles dominated women's tennis, winning 22 titles and reaching 33 finals out of the 34 tournaments in which she played. She won the Australian Open three times in that period, the US Open twice and the French Open twice. She had a 55-1 win-loss record in Grand Slam tournaments, the only defeat being in the 1992 Wimbledon final where she lost to Steffi Graf. She was unable to play at Wimbledon in 1991 because of injury.
After becoming a US citizen, Seles helped the United States to win the Federation Cup in 1996 and 2000 and she also won a Bronze Medal at the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney. After winning 53 career titles up to 2003, Seles sustained a foot injury that sidelined her from the Women’s Tour and effectively ended her career.