"Thought about a human being before a dollar amount" - When Monica Seles lauded Gabriela Sabatini for supporting her World No. 1 freeze post-stabbing
Monica Seles once hailed Gabriela Sabatini for supporting the idea of freezing her No. 1 ranking after her unfortunate stabbing incident.
Seles was stabbed by a Steffi Graf fan named Gunter Parche in Hamburg in 1993, because of which she was out of action for over two years. There was talk of freezing the then-Yugoslav's No. 1 ranking, but most players opposed and voted against it in Rome that year. The only woman who did not vote against the idea was Gabriela Sabatini.
Seles and Sabatini faced each other on quite a few occasions. Their thrilling five-set final at the 1990 WTA Finals (then known as the Virginia Slims Championships) was particularly memorable.
Speaking about that encounter in 2015, Seles claimed that she loved playing five set matches.
“I always loved playing three out of five, it’s more of an equalizer if you’re a slow starter, more of a true barometer. I think the ladies are definitely fit enough to play best-of-five matches, and I think at Grand Slams it would be a lot of fun in the semis and final," Monica Seles said.
The former World No. 1 then recalled her first match against Sabatini in 1988, saying that the Argentine was "a lady" on and off the court.
“She was already a star and it was my first night match,” Seles said. “I was absolutely star-struck with her. But she was such a lady on and off the court, if you won against her or lost against her.”
Talking about Sabatini voting for her No. 1 ranking to be frozen, Seles praised the Argentine and said she thought about being a "human" ahead of money.
“She thought about a human being before a dollar amount. That speaks about a tremendous amount of character," Seles said.
Monica Seles leads 11-3 in the head-to-head against Gabriela Sabatini
Monica Seles and Gabriela Sabatini locked horns against each other on 14 occasions, with the former leading 11-3 in the head-to-head.
The first meeting between the two came in the second round of the 1988 Lipton International Players' Championships (now known as the Miami Open), with Sabatini winning 7-6, 6-3.
The two faced each other in five finals, with Seles winning three of them and Sabatini triumphing the two times they met in the title clash of the Italian Open. They also squared off in three Grand Slam semifinals, and the Yugoslav-American came out on top in straight sets on each occasion.
The last match between Monica Seles and Gabriela Sabatini was in the third round of the 1996 Canadian Open, with the former winning 7-6, 6-1. Seles went on to win the tournament, defeating Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the final.