Tennis Prose



Facing Monica Seles

Artwork by Miki Di Goodaboom.

Here is a sneak peak excerpt of my still in progress feature “Facing Monica Seles”, about one of the greatest champions in tennis history and the only woman to dominate Steffi Graf on a tennis court.

Seles won eight Grand Slams in her first 14 attempts from 1989 to Australian Open 1993. After being stabbed on court in Hamburg, Germany in 1993 (at the age of 19) and then a two year absence from competition, Seles resumed her career in 1995 and won one more Grand Slam in 1996 (AO) before retiring in 2003.

Here are some insights about Facing Monica…

Angelica Gavaldon: “I love Monica. We met when we both played “Mundialito” in Venezuela. I lost to her in the finals and we won the doubles together. We became really good friends, playing on the swings in between matches, we were kids , we loved the playground they had there at the club in Caracas. I think she only dropped one game the whole tournament. She beat everyone 60 60, including me. I then saw her at the Sport Goofy International Tournament. I remember some rule they had that she could not wear a certain shirt so she asked to borrow one of mine. After the match, she returned it washed and folded and as she handed it to me she kissed it and said thank you. It was the cutest, most humbling way, the way she handed me back the shirt. Once we both started the Tour – it’s very intense and focused and everyone keeps to themselves…”

“I never enjoyed watching many players but Monica was one that I admired so much. The way she played pressure points and the shots she would hit at a crucial point was the best I have ever seen. We met at the laundry room in Oklahoma City.  We did our laundry together… yes, players sometimes do their own laundry [smiles]. And caught up on life. It’s very sad what happened to her. The relationship she had with her parents was beautiful to see. I read her book and it’s inspiring that she touched on a subject that a lot of players don’t speak up about. As I read it, I came across a story she tells of her friend ‘Angelica’ from Mexico. It was very touching. I hold  beautiful memories of her and I have only deep respect for her.” 

Groundskeeper at Laurel Oak Country Club:  “Monica Seles used to live within walking distance of this club and trained at her home where she had two courts on her adjacent lot, a hard and clay. She also played exhibitions and did clinics at the Country Club. Seles used to pay Jimmy Arias or whoever her male training partners were that week, $70 an hour. One day she hit with Jimmy’s younger brother Kevin. She wanted him to hit serves for two hours so she could work on returns. Seles would usually train for 2-3 hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon. Arias hit serves for her but after about twenty minutes he began to tire and he started to miss. Have you ever tried to serve to a top player for twenty minutes straight? Let alone two hours? Arias tried to carry out his end of the bargain but struggled mightily.”

Michelle Larcher De Brito:  “I hit with Monica in Sarasota early in my career. She had been retired and was not competing anymore. She was nice enough to agree to hit with me. I remember her intensity, even in practice, she would sprint to pick up the balls between points! And she was retired!”

Gigi Fernandez: “I had more trouble playing Monica than Steffi. Because Monica hits hard on both sides. Like with Steffi, she had the slice backhand so I could serve and volley to her backhand. And I was a serve and volleyer. So, with Monica, not only did she hit hard on both sides, but she stood one or two or sometimes three feet inside the baseline. So when you’re serve and volleying and someone is standing three feet inside the baseline to return, you don’t have enough time to get anywhere for your first volley. They were just going by so fast. So quickly. With Steffi I could just hit it to her backhand – I knew slices were coming back and I could get the volley in and then it was like Okay, who’s gonna win the point? But with Monica I couldn’t even get a racquet on it.”

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  • Shlomo · August 10, 2021 at 7:56 am

    Good article, nice insight into a very good player. Unfortunately she retired too early for reasons not up to her.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 10, 2021 at 8:56 am

    Shlomo, she was a totally different, reduced player after Hamburg. One major win and I believe three major final losses. The German nut accomplished his mission. Don Budge implied it could have been an inside job. Pre Hamburg we saw maybe the best female player ever. So good, it took evil forces to conspire to defeat her.

  • Alan Suess · August 10, 2021 at 10:26 am

    Im so glad to see this article on Monica Seles. I always think about the similar relationship she had with her father as I do with mine. She is missed. Wherever she may be I hope she is enjoying her life.

  • Mirza · August 12, 2021 at 9:29 pm

    Thank you so much for the teaser. I have been a hardcore fan for 30 years and love readibg new things about Monica! Made my day❤️

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 13, 2021 at 8:27 am

    Hi Mirza, You’re welcome, and there’s a lot more where that came from, so stay tuned 🙂



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