Tennis player Monica Seles was born December 2, 1973 in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia to Hungarian parents. She started playing at the age of six, with her father coaching her. By the time that she was nine-years-old, she already won her first tournament. At age 11, she triumphed in the 1985 Orange Bowl tournament in Miami, where tennis coach Nick Bollettieri noticed her skills. He went on to train her for two years.
In 1990, at age 16, she became the youngest French Open champion in the tournament’s history. She ranked number one in the women’s game from 1991 to 1992. She has won over 40 tournaments and holds nine Grand Slam titles. For two consecutive years, she dominated the U.S. Open and the Australian Open. But her rising career came to a halt in 1993 because of a shocking incident. During a break in one of her games, a fan of rival Steffi Graf suddenly attacked her and stabbed her. She was hit on the back, below her left shoulder blade. The wound healed in weeks but it took two years and three months before Seles played again.
Monica Seles was featured on the covers of different magazines like Tennis, Humo and Radio Times. She also did print ads for the “Got Milk?” campaign of America’s Dairy Producer. Seles also became an endorser of Fila athletic wear. The U.S. Tennis magazine named her the 13th greatest player of all-time, while the Australian Tennis magazine lists her as one of the 15 greatest women champions in the last 30 years.
In 2007, Seles was chosen as Goodwill Ambassador and Spokesperson for the Global Sports for Peace and Development Programme Initiative of the Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition or IIMSAM. In February 2008, she officially retired from the game.
Monica Seles is a celebrity contestant on season 6 of ABC’s reality series Dancing with the Stars. She is paired with professional dancer Jonathan Roberts .
(Photo courtesy of ABC)