Lawn Tennis
Clay Court Queen Monica Seles Retires From Tennis
By Anton Lagani, Lawn Tennis Senior Correspondent, Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2008 5:10am CST USA
Monica Seles Announces Retirement From Tennis At Age 34
Photo by AP
MIAMI--( Monica Seles of the USA, one of the greatest tennis players ever, officially retired from the sport of professional tennis Thursday after struggling with a number of injuries that in recent years had kept her far from her best form. In the early 1990s Seles' power tennis changed the game of women's tennis forever.

"I have for some time considered a return to professional play, but I have now decided not to pursue that," Seles said in a statement. "I will continue to play exhibitions, participate in charity events, promote the sport, but will no longer plan my schedule around the tour."

In her native Yugoslavia at age six, Monica Seles perfected her trademark two-handed forehands and two-handed backhands first in empty parking lots with a rope serving as a net before moving onto the traditional tennis courts. In 1985 at age 11, Seles won the Orange Bowl junior tournament at Miami, Florida. A year later she moved with her father and coach to Florida to train.

In 1988 Seles turned professional. The next year, her first as a full-time pro, in May 1989, Seles weighing only 90 pounds at age 15 won her first career title at Houston, Texas on clay, where she beat the American clay court specialist Chris Evert in the final 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

In 1990 at Berlin, Germany; Seles, who had grown noticably taller, unleashed her power left-handed baseline game and extreme angles to snap world number one Steffi Graf of Germany's unbeaten streak of 66 matches in the final 6-4, 6-3. Seles would go on that year to become the youngest ever champion at the French Open at the age of 16, winning her first of nine grand slam singles titles.

Seles claimed the world number one ranking in March 1991 and would win the Australian Open, the French Open and the US Open all at least twice. Only Wimbledon eluded her where the wet grass could produce low bounces unfriendly to her two-handed groundstroke grips.

Seles put on one of the greatest displays of power tennis in history at the French Open final in 1992 defeating Graf 6-2, 3-6, 10-8. An impatient Graf would commit many unforced errors to assist, but it was Seles' groundstroke winners during the match that were at times breathtaking. Seles had gone 55-1 in grand slam tournaments from 1991 to early 1993.

As a result it appeared in 1993 as if Seles and Graf would produce the greatest rivalry ever in women's tennis before Seles was stabbed in the back while she sat during a changeover by a mentally ill Graf fan. Seles returned to tennis in late 1995 and in January 1996 won her fourth Australian Open singles title, her last grand slam title.

Seles could still overpower a large majority of the WTA Tour, but she would never the same tennis player as before.

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