SPECIAL FEATURE

And the winner is …. Monica Seles!

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Six months following her stabbing incident and while still in the middle of a long drawn-out recover process – physically a mentally­—came another shocking news. On October 13, 1993, while Monica Seles and her mother were shopping near their home in Florida came her brother Zoltan running towards them, yelling: “He’s free!”

Zoltan need not say anything anymore, Monica knew whom he was referring to—her assailant Gunter Parche—who her brother explained was only found guilty of “inflicting grievous bodily injury” and was granted two years’ probation.

Monica Seles EDDIE ALINEA’S FILE PHOTO

Meaning while she would have to spend two years more confined in a jail-like atmosphere of her house, afraid to play pro-tennis, afraid even to go out in public. Yet the man with a “serious personality disorder” who attempted to end her life would go scot-free.

In March the following year, Monica realized she wouldn’t, be getting justice for the harm the man did to her. She needed more help even her devoted family could give. Her depression was getting deeper and her nightmares were not going away. She went to see Jerry May, a psychologist Dr. Richard Steadman had recommended.


She told May of the agony of her recurring dream back on the court in Hamburg as she stepped out of play. Every time she looked into the stands, there was Parche’s face smiling an evil smile.

Night after night, she woke up in sweat with her mother standing over her. She would ask her to sleep in her bed, to hold her like a baby. To help her fight her fear, Mays taught her mind-control techniques. Through their many sessions, she realized that it was from tennis where she got her greatest joy. That she loved the game and whether or not she could ever play competitively again, she needed to play.

In February 1995, Martina Navratilova visited her. The two of them had hit a few balls for a while. They had a great time together. During lunch. Martina told her: “You know, Monica, we’d all love to have you back on the tour. It must be your decision, but I want you to know that everyone would welcome you with an open arms.”

Before leaving, Martina handed Monica a golden bracelet saying: “I want you to have this. It has brought me a lot of luck. “

Monica’s first reaction was to reject Martina’s offer, but the latter said: “When you come back, you can return it to me.”

That’s it and at that very moment and every time she looked at the bracelet, she was warmed by the thought of Martina’s generosity. Before long, Monica was practicing regularly with Zoltan and her father coaching.

In April of the same year, the German appellate judge upheld Parche’s suspended sentence. She told herself, “Monica, you are not going to get justice. You have two choices – return to tennis or do something else. Regardless, you have to move on.”

And move on she did. She arranged an exhibition match with Martina in Atlantic City in New Jersey in July where she confessed having hit some good shots and some bad shots. After a tough game, she won the match after which, she ran into Martina’s arms and returned the bracelet.

By mid-August at the Canadian Open, proof of Martina’s words that the golden bracelet had brought her a lot of luck was confirmed by Monica herself.

She made it to the quarterfinals, then the semifinal and the final were she battled South Africa’s Amanda Coetzer and marched triumphantly.

As the crowd greeted her conquest and comeback with standing ovation, Monica had her thoughts about the time it had taken her to reach that moment, “None of us were the same people we had been 28 months before. I truly understood the depth of my family’s love and the value of friends.”

“No matter what might happen in future matches, I knew I’d already won,” she said.

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