24 Years Ago Today: The Stabbing of Monica Seles - UBITENNIS
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24 Years Ago Today: The Stabbing of Monica Seles

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24 years ago today, the #1 woman in the world was sitting in her chair during a changeover when a man came onto the court and stabbed her from behind with a knife.

 

24 years later, it’s still hard to process the severity of the above sentence.

April 30, 1993 is one of the most tragic days in tennis history. 38-year-old Gunter Parche, described as a deranged Steffi Graf fan who was upset over Seles’ recent domination of her top German rival, stabbed Seles and narrowly missed her spinal cord and organs. He was subdued by officials and fans before being able to stab her again. Amazingly, only a few stitches were needed to treat the wound – but the harm done to Seles’ life and career was immeasurable.

Prior to the incident, Seles appeared to be headed toward GOAT-like numbers. Between January 1991 and February 1993, Seles reached the final in 33 of 34 tournaments she played, winning 22 of those titles. During this time, she went 55-1 in majors, winning 7 of 8 major titles. And all of this was accomplished before her 20th birthday. These numbers surpass anything we’ve seen from Serena, Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic at their peaks.

Following the stabbing, Seles would be absent from the court for over 2 years. In her 2009 autobiography, Seles detailed dealing with severe depression and an eating disorder. Her father’s cancer diagnosis later that year only added to her despair. Perhaps most upsetting was the dismissal of the attempted murder charge against Parche. The judge ruled Parche had diminished mental capacity, and he would serve no jail time. When a second judge upheld this verdict, Seles collapsed in tears in front of reporters.

Seles would never be the same player again, winning only 1 further major upon her return. The mental toughness and nerves of steel that had made her a dominating #1 in the world were gone. Her assailant’s mission was, horrifyingly, accomplished.

Seles had dominated her main rival, Steffi Graf, in the years prior to the attack. After herself winning 7 of 8 majors between 1988 and 1989, Graf would only win 1 major in each of the next 3 years. Within weeks of the attack, Graf would return to the #1 ranking. She would win the next 4 majors, with 11 of her 22 major titles coming after the stabbing, the third most all-time. We can only speculate how those numbers would differ had the stabbing never happened.

Has lessons been learnt?

 

24 years later, are players safer now? There’s certainly more security now at the bigger tournaments, with much tighter rules as to what is allowed on the grounds, but there’s also been several stunning security breaches in recent years. At the French Open in 2015, a young fan ran onto the court after Roger Federer’s second round win and walked alongside Federer for several seconds before being removed by security. Luckily this fan was looking to do nothing more offensive than take a selfie, but how is he able to make contact with Federer without being tackled?

Two years earlier in 2013, a much scarier incident occurred at Roland Garros during the men’s final between Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer. A masked, same-sex marriage protester ran onto the court with a flare in-hand, coming within a few feet of Nadal. The flare was left ablaze on the court for some time before being extinguished. Four years prior to that, a man entered the court during the 2009 French Open final and tried to physically force a hat and flag onto Roger Federer. Fans have also made it onto the court and made contact with players at the Australian and U.S. Opens.

Luckily these court crashers have not had the ill intentions of a Gunter Parche, but the next one might. The ease at which fans can get onto the court and to the players is frightening. In an effort to create a more intimate fan experience, many of the major tournaments have added new stadiums with more courtside seating (this year the Australian Open even added VIP seating on the court itself), but does this come at the expense of player safety? Let’s hope all tournaments take whatever measures necessary to prevent a recurrence of the awful incident from 24 years ago today.

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Fabio Fognini To Undergo Arthroscopic Surgery On Both Ankles

Fabio Fognini is to have surgery on both ankles as he aims to extend his tennis career when the ATP Tour returns.

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Fabio Fognini (@ASB_Classic - Twitter)

Fabio Fognini will undergo Arthroscopic surgery on both ankles in Italy today after re-injuring them in training. 

 

The Italian took to social media to announce that he will have the surgery on both his ankles immediately as he looks to take advantage of Tennis’ hiatus.

In the post Fognini revealed that this is not a new problem he has been suffering from, “I’ve been having a problem with my left ankle for three and a half years now, it’s an issue I’ve learned to cope with,” Fognini explained.

“Then my right ankle started playing up in the past two years as well. I had hoped the various issues would go away during my two months break from the game because of the lockdown but, when I resumed training they were still there. 

“After medical examination and a long discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery on both ankles. I believe it is the right thing to do while the tour is on this enforced break.”

This is big news for the Italian, who is now 33 years-old and with his time on the tour running out this is a big risk but a risk worth taking in order to increase his longevity.

The timing couldn’t have been better for the world number 11 as he looks to take advantage of the hiatus in the tennis calendar and get himself fully ready for the 2021 season.

Since turning pro 16 years ago, Fognini has won 9 ATP singles titles and been a grand slam champion in doubles with his flamboyant style remaining consistent over the years and will look to continue this form after surgery.

Meanwhile a decision on the US Open is expected to be made in the next couple of weeks as the tournament organisers are hoping to still hold the tournament on the 31st of August.

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Australian Tennis Great Passes Away Aged 83

Ashley Cooper is one of only 11 men in history to have won three grand slam titles within the same year.

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Women’s world No.1 Ash Barty has led tributes to multiple grand slam champion Ashley Cooper, who passed away on Friday.

 

Cooper was one of the sports best players in the years leading up to the birth of the Open Era. He was declared the world’s best amateur player in 1957 and 1958. It was during 1958 where he really stood out by winning three out of the four major tournaments within the same season. Something only 10 other players in the history of men’s tennis have been able to achieve. Cooper also achieved success in the doubles by winning another four grand slam titles. In the Davis Cup he led Australia to a 3-2 victory over America in the 1957 final.

Whilst his achievements occurred during the 1950s, Cooper did sort of have a taste of what it was like to place in a major event during the Open Era after featuring in the main draw of the 1968 French Open. He progressed to the second round after his opponent retired before withdrawing from the tournament without playing a single point.

After retiring from the sport, he maintained his links with tennis. Working alongside Tennis Queensland with their player development and was on the Board of Directors for Tennis Australia.

“Ashley was a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator and he will be greatly missed,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
“His contribution to the sport went far beyond his exploits on the tennis court. His rich legacy includes the magnificent Queensland Tennis Centre, a project he was passionate about, nurturing the development from the very beginning, and resulting in the return of world-class international tennis to Brisbane.”
“Ashley was also the most humble of champions and a great family man. Our hearts go out to his wife Helen and his family, along with his wide and international circle of friends, including so many of our tennis family.”

Paying her own tribute, French Open champion Barty took to Twitter to send her sympathy to Cooper’s family. Last year she was presented with the Ashley Cooper Medal at the Queensland Tennis Awards. The highest individual honour that can be issued by the organisation named in after the tennis great.

Rod Laver, who is one of Australia’s greatest tennis players of all time, described Cooper as a ‘wonderful champion’ in his tribute.

“So sad to hear of Ashley’s passing. He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley’s wife, Helen, and his family.” Laver wrote on Twitter.

The have been no details released on the exact cause of Cooper’s death, but it has been reported that he has been battling ‘a long illness.’ He was 83-years-old.

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Novak Djokovic aims at breaking Federer and Nadal Grand Slam records

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Novak Djokovic told US program In Depth presented by Graham Bensinger that he wants to break all Grand Slam records and play for many years. The Serbian player is the third best ever player with 17 Major titles behid Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (19).

 

“I believe that the journey chooses you and not the other way around and I know that I still have things to do in sport. At the same time, they are not the only things that motivate me, what really feeds me is the desire to keep growing. I can achieve all feats and become the greatest in history maintaining on the courts”, said Djokovic.

The Serbian legend said that he does not set set any limits. He was still unbeaten before the suspension of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic. His winning streak includes a record of 18 consecutive match wins and a 21-match win streak dating back dating back to the Davis Cup Finals last November. He beat Roger Federer in the semifinal and Dominic Thiem in the final to clinch his 8th Australian Open title. He became the third man to win 8 titles at a Grand Slam tournament. Last February he saved three match points against Gael Monfils in the semifinal before beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final in Dubai.

 “I don’t believe in limits. I think limits are just illusions of your ago or your mind. I definitely want to go on for a long time but I know that at the same time I have to maintain the right principles and the routine to maintain the health and well being of my body, mind and soul”, said Djokovic.

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