Monday, September 13, 2010

Monica Seles

World Famous People

Monica Seles

World Famous People (Woman Tennis Player) - Monica Seles was born on December 2, 1973 in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia to parents Karolj and Esther Seles. Monica is the youngest of two children. Zoltán, her brother, was 8 years old when Monica was born. Tennis first caught the eye of Monica Seles when she was six years old, because Zoltán became interested in the sport and was bringing home cool looking trophy's. Tennis was not a popular sport in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia. At the time, Karolj had to drive to Italy nearly 10 hours away just to pick up racquet's for his children. Novi Sad only had 4 clay tennis courts to play on, which in turn made it nearly impossible for Monica & Zoltán to get a court to practice. So Monica, Zoltán, & their father practiced a lot in the parking lot or up against the wall of their apartment complex. It all started in that parking lot in Novi Sad. 

At the time, Karolj worked as an artist/cartoonist to make money to support his family and Esther also worked to support the household. To make tennis fun for Monica, he used to draw Tom & Jerry cartoons on the tennis balls. He made tennis fun for her! While Monica was still learning; Zoltán after only a short time playing, became a top junior player in Europe. This was just the beginning of Monica's tennis career, this little girl who just loved to hit the ball. Little did they know at this time that Monica would go on to be one of tennis' all time greats.
By the time she was 8, she had become the number 1 junior player in Yugoslavia. In the following two years, she had become the best junior player in the world.
Nick Bolletteri first saw 12 year old Monica at the Sport Goofy tournament at Disney world in Florida. Nick and the Seles family met shortly afterwards and he invited her to come train with him for 2 weeks at his academy in Florida (for her to see what his academy was like). Unfortunately it cost a lot of money to attend and the Seles' were not ready for that. But one year later, Nick and Monica met up again and he offered Monica a scholarship to come train with him in Florida. At this time, Monica was the #1 junior player in the world and had already won the Junior World Championships a couple of times. This time he offered for her to come train at his academy for free - he just wanted her to train there no matter what, She was too good to pass.

At the age of 13, Monica and her brother left Novi Sad for Florida. While in Florida and out of her father's supervision & coaching, Monica began to loose part of her game. Nick and his coaches were teaching Monica to use the then "normal" one hander instead of the 2 hands off both sides which was Monica's style. Five months later, Karolj came to visit and to see how things were going. Needless to say when he discovered how they had tried to change the way Monica played, he was outraged. He told the coaches "...this is how she plays." and that he would stay and work with Monica. By 1987, she had gotten her ground strokes back and was back on track winning again by using her natural stroke of 2 hands off both sides.
Monica played her first amateur match in March of 1988 at the age of 14, just for experience. She won 7-6, 6-3! At the match, Steffi Graf, Gabriela Sabatini, and Chris Evert (who was to play Monica next if she were to win), all came to watch and see who was this girl! Monica lost to Evert in the next round, but showed the world that this was only the beginning!

In February 1989, at 15 years old, Monica turned professional and entered the WTA rankings at #88 in the world. In only her 2nd tournament, she won her first professional tournament in Houston, TX, by winning her rematch over Chris Evert, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. This was the start of Monica's professional career and she never looked back!

In her first Grand Slam attempt, the 1989 French Open, Monica fought her way through to the semi-finals to play the then #1 player in the world, Steffi Graf. Although Steffi won in a tough 3 set match, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, Monica's first Grand Slam attempt was an awesome display of what was to come in the following year.
In 1990, Monica went on a winning streak to win the following tournaments one after another:
  • Lipton Player's Championships
  • U.S. Women's Hard Court Championships
  • Eckerd Open
  • Italian Open
  • Lufthansa Cup (in Germany over Graf)
  • French Open (rematch of last year over Graf)
At the Lufthansa Cup (the German Open), it was the first time since the merge of East and West Germany that both sides were getting to come together and enjoy this match. Also attended by the president of Germany at the time. All came to watch their beloved Steffi Graf play the final, and hopefully win. Unfortunately for Graf, standing on the other side of the net was Monica who was riding her own winning streak into the final. Just 2 weeks before she had thrashed Navratilova at the Italian Open 6-1, 6-1. In the press conference Martina stated that she felt like she had "been run over by a semi-truck". Winning her 5th tournament in a row, Monica defeated Steffi Graf in Germany, 6-4, 6-3. And then went on to win the French Open over Steffi 7-6, 6-4! Her first Grand Slam title!

Her winning streak was stopped by Zina Garrison at Wimbledon in the quarter-finals which went to 9-7 in the 3rd set. Then Monica went on to play the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles and won the title against Martina Navratilova 6-4, 3-6, 7-6. She then defeated her again in winning the Oakland California tournament, in straight sets 6-3, 7-6. Monica ended the year at the Virginia Slims Championships at Madison Square Garden and won over Gabriela Sabatini in a classic 5 set match 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. I would think at this point the other players began to take notice of Monica, because she had won 9 out of the 15 tournaments she entered in 1990 - and by the end of the year she was ranked #2 in the world. An amazing year!

Monica Seles, World Famous People, Tennis Player


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