"Arguably the biggest What if?" "There would be no GOAT debate" - Tennis fans celebrate Monica Seles' 50th birthday by recalling her dominance
Nine-time Grand Slam champion Monica Seles celebrated her 50th birthday on December 2, nearly 20 years after she played her final professional match.
Seles won eight of her nine Grand Slam titles as a teenager, a feat that took the tennis world by storm. But after finishing 1991 and 1992 as the year-end World No. 1, Seles became the victim of a brutal attack from a Steffi Graf fan.
Seles, Graf's biggest rival at the time, was stabbed in the back with a knife during a match in Germany. That forced the then 20-year-old to leave the game for two years.
Monica Seles won only one Grand Slam after that, in 1996. Nevertheless, she is widely considered one of the contenders for the GOAT title in women's tennis. Many believe she would have gone on to usurp Graf if not for the unfortunate incident.
With Saturday marking her 50th birthday, fans on Reddit reminisced fondly about her career. One of them argued that a fit Seles would have ended the GOAT debate, as she would have "unequivocally" become the GOAT.
"Arguably the biggest what if. Very likely in the GOAT debate if she was never stabbed," one fan said.
"More likely there would be no GOAT debate because she would unequivocally be the GOAT. 8 slams as a teenager is mind boggling," another fan said.
Here are some more reactions:
Monica Seles on stabbing incident: "Everyone benefited from the stabbing except me"
Recalling the stabbing incident several years later, Monica Seles expressed her misgivings about the way the situation was handled. She mentioned how the German federation decided to carry on with the Hamburg tournament as if nothing had happened.
Seles was also disapproving of the WTA for choosing to not preserve her World No. 1 ranking during her recovery period. According to the Yugoslav-turned-American, everyone benefited from her stabbing except her.
"In terms of the game itself, it was like the stabbing never occurred. One problem was that it happened in Germany and was 'because' of a German player. The German federation decided to continue the tournament as if nothing had happened, and everyone else seemed to follow on from that."
"(Steffi Graf visited) for a minute or two. It was one of those things. But it felt like everyone benefited from the stabbing except me. They just wanted me to go away, it felt like. I was 19 years old. Their money was tied up to the ranking system, and that was obviously an issue," Monica Seles said.