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 became the youngest player to take over the world's No. 1 ranking in 1991. She dominated the sport until 1993, when a fan of rival Steffi Graf stabbed her during a match in Germany. Following her official retirement in 2008, Seles became a successful author.
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 Seles nor her father heeded their advice.
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 tournament. The following year, the 17-year-old made history again as the youngest player to take over the world's No. 1 ranking.
At the time, Seles was virtually unbeatable. From January 1991 through February 1993, she won 33 of the 34 tournaments she entered, including six Grand Slam singles titles.
Stabbing at the French Open
At the age of 19, Seles was stabbed in the back by a crazed Steffi Graf fan 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 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 claimed nine Grand Slam championships among her 53 career singles 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 difficulties she faced with an eating disorder. She wrote a book in 2009, Getting a Grip: On My Body, My Mind, My Self. She soon launched herself into the world of young-adult fiction, penning the first two books of a series about a tennis boarding school entitled The Academy.
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 works with animal charities. A resident of Sarasota, Florida, she began dating businessman and politician Tom Golisano—who is 30 years her senior—in 2009. They announced their engagement in June 2014.
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