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Monica Seles is a former No. 1-ranked women's tennis player with nine Grand Slam titles. She is also an author and speaker, and competed on Dancing with the Stars in 2008.
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Monica Seles was born in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, on December 2, 1973. After moving to the United States to play tennis at age 13, Seles quickly rose to the top of the game, becoming the youngest player to rank No. 1 at age 17. She dominated the sport until 1993, when a fan of rival Steffi Graf stabbed her during a match in Germany. Seles took a two-year hiatus, and never regained her status. She retired in 2008. That same year,
Seles competed on TV's Dancing with the Stars, but was eliminated in the first round.
Monica Seles was born on December 2, 1973, in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, to Hungarian parents. Her father, Karolj Seles, taught her to play tennis in a parking lot when she was 5 years old, and as she grew up, she became intent on beating her brother Zoltan, who was eight years older and the No. 1-ranked junior tennis player in the country at the time. Her mother, Ester, and her grandmother thought that a girl shouldn’t spend so much time playing tennis, but neither Monica nor her father heeded their advice, and her father remained her coach until his death in 1998.
By the age of 13, Seles was the No. 1 junior tennis player in the world. At 16, she beat Steffi Graf in the French Open, becoming the youngest person to win the French Open, and spent nearly three years at the top of the game, winning 22 titles. At age 17, she was the youngest player at the time to ever rank No. 1 in the world.
At the age of 19, Seles was stabbed in the back by a crazed fan of competitor Steffi Graf during a tournament in Hamburg, Germany. She was treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after the incident, and took a two-year hiatus before returning to the court in 1995. Although she won another Australian Open in 1996 and a bronze medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Seles never quite regained her competitive edge. She experienced a series of setbacks, including the death of her father and coach in 1998, and a foot injury in 2003. She played her last match in 2003, and officially retired in 2008.
By the time she retired, Seles had won 9 Grand Slam singles titles and 53 career titles. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009.
Since retiring, Seles has spent time teaching at tennis clinics and speaking about the value of getting in shape. She wrote a book in 2009, Getting a Grip: On My Body, My Mind, My Self, and not long after, began writing a novel entitled The Academy (slated to be released in 2013).
In 2008, Seles competed on ABC's hit dance-competition show, Dancing with the Stars, but was eliminated in the first round. She had never danced before beginning rehearsals for the show.
Seles became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1994.
Outside of tennis, Seles loves animals: She works with animal charities, has a Yorkshire terrier named Ariel and collects stuffed animals. She lives in Sarasota, Florida, and has been dating the former owner of the Buffalo Sabres, Tom Golisano—who is 30 years her senior—since 2009.
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