The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.
• Video: Highlights from Monica Seles’ first Slam title, beating Steffi Graf 7-6, 6-4 in the 1990 French Open final. The two would eventually split their Slam final meetings 3-3, though Seles led 3-1 before her stabbing.
• Today marks the 20th anniversary of the day Monica Seles was stabbed while sitting on a changeover in Hamburg. Here’s a roundup of some of the good pieces on the event.
• Sports on Earth: Giving Monica Seles her due.
I find Graf’s 22 Grand Slam titles inflated, and I find it curious that you don’t get a lot of awestruck references to that numeral 22, and I wonder if it’s because people do feel a wince or an asterisk in there somewhere. I find Seles’ nine titles understated. I see them not necessarily as equals but as sharers of a historical rung. With somebody as great as Graf, a generation can muster only one — or few — people who can summon a similar level. That person, in Graf’s case, happened to meet with unnatural removal, but also with pointed removal. In a bid to prevent such vileness from winning out, I seek to take the usual conversation and lend it the unusualness it warrants.
The difference between Seles’ game and her off-court persona was remarkable and downright hilarious. Catch any snapshot of her two-handed stroke on impact; the countenance is one of a cold-hearted finisher, prepared to win at any cost. In press conferences — remember, this was a teenage girl raised by level-headed, good-hearted parents — she had a constant case of the giggles, as if every single thing struck her funny. I distinctly recall glancing at seasoned, world-weary tennis writers completely disarmed during her early appearances the U.S. Open.
Still, “nobody really knew her,” in Navratilova’s words, and there were those who claimed that Seles’ forever-cheerful nature was a mask for insecurity. She and her family were suspicious of outsiders, to the point where she wore wigs, traveled under assumed names, booked practice courts in secret and lived behind electronic iron gates. After Hamburg, that insecurity evolved into outright paranoia.
• espnW: Stabbing stole Monica Seles’ career.
Once a legitimate threat to break Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles; once a source of constant frustration to Steffi Graf, who is No. 2 with 22 Slam wins; once one of the toughest competitors in all of sports, Seles didn’t just have her career altered on that awful day 20 years ago. It was stolen from her.
“I can’t say whatever was meant to be, was meant to be,” Seles told me in a 2004 interview with the Chicago Tribune. “When I look back, I’m sure my career, in terms of achievement, would’ve been different if I hadn’t been stabbed, and I’ll always wonder why I’m the only one in history who that ever happened to.
“But that was the course my life took, it was beyond my control, and I have to let it go. I don’t want to think what could have been, what would have been.”
• Another ode to the disappearing one-handed backhand.
• Steve Tignor reposts the lost chapter from his book High Strung, which looks at the events surrounding Martina Navratilova’s decision to come out in 1981.
• Marcos Baghdatis, wife Karolina Sprem, and baby girl Zahara grace a magazine cover.
• Tennis is still waiting for the day an ATP player comes out during his playing career. Here’s a look back at a piece from 2009 on Out.com on the prospects of that happening sooner rather than later.
• Non-tennis: Comedian and cancer-survivor Tig Notaro humorously tells Conan O’Brien it’s important to stay present.