This Day in Tennis History: The Monica Seles Incident

Listen to Simon and Devang discuss the possibilities of a WTA/ATP Merger & the best Rogers Cup moments below!

Today, April 30th, marks the 27th anniversary of one of the most shocking and disturbing events to ever occur on a tennis court. During the quarterfinals of the 1993 WTA Tour event in Hamburg, Germany, top ranked Monica Seles faced off against Magdalena Maleeva. Seles was a 19-year old phenom, and her dominance at that age was completely unprecedented. After winning the French Open at sixteen, she tallied eight Grand Slam titles and thirty-two tournament wins before her 20th birthday.

During a break in the match, a German fan rushed the court and proceeded to use a boning knife to stab Seles in the upper back, between her shoulder blades. A stunned Seles collapsed to the ground, and was quickly taken to the hospital. The man responsible for the attack was later said to have a been a mentally-ill supporter of Seles’ German rival Steffi Graf, and would be sentenced to two-year probation. Disappointed with what she viewed as a light sentencing, Seles would never play in Germany again.

Although the wounds would heal relatively quickly, the event was a scarring moment for Seles, and it would take years before she returned to the court. In her time away, she struggled with not only recovering from the physical wounds of the attack, but the mental side as well, falling into a deep depression and developing a binge eating disorder. Upon returning to the sport two years later in August 1995, Seles was subjected to sexist and demeaning media coverage, with the press referring to her as a ‘sumo wrestler’, and a ‘hag with a frying pan’.

While she managed to salvage successful career, winning the 1996 Austrailian Open, and remaining a fixture in the WTA Top 10 throughout the late 90’s/early 2000’s, she never reached the stratospheric heights of earlier career. You can view a video of the incident below, or for a more uplifting watch, you can watch her 2009 Hall of Fame induction ceremony, here.