Email
Print
Email
Print

Martina Navratilova: Monica Seles could have broken Margaret Court’s record

Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova was 7-10 against Monica Seles, according to the WTA. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Martina Navratilova tells espnW that the 1993 stabbing of Monica Seles, then 19, robbed her of the confidence that had already paved the way to eight Slam titles in a span of just three years. That’s an incredible rate and considering just how dominant she was not only against the WTA (from January 1991 to February 1993 she made the finals of 33 of 34 tournaments, winning 22 of them) but also over her chief rival and the woman many consider to be the greatest player in the modern era, Steffi Graf.

“Mentally she was just so tough, she was right up there with Chris [Evert],” Navratilova said. “You couldn’t crack her, you never got the feeling she was panicked or pissed off. Nothing. You could not read her body language. Up 6-4, 4-0 or down 6-4, 4-0, she was immaculate, and she lost a little bit of that, not hardness, but supreme confidence. … She lost her edge.”

JENKINS: Memories of Seles’ stabbing

Seles won just one more Grand Slam after the stabbing, the 1996 Australian Open. Nine Slam titles is nothing to sniff at, but what could have been, or perhaps what should have been lingers.

“She would have won so much more,” Navratilova said. “We’d be talking about Monica with the most Grand Slam titles [ahead of] Margaret Court or Steffi Graf. Steffi had 22 [Navratilova and Evert have 18 apiece], but she didn’t have anyone to play against. This guy [Guenther Parche, who stabbed Seles] changed the course of tennis history, no doubt about that.”

Mary Jo Fernandez agreed.

“People forget, if you look at [Seles'] record, she has nine Grand Slams, which is an amazing career,” Fernandez said. “But she would have had double that at least. … She took our game to another level.”

“The sad thing about the whole thing to me,” Pam Shriver said, “was that besides the physical and emotional harm that was done to Monica, one of our great champions, is that this guy, in the end, got exactly what he wanted.”

NGUYEN: Seles anniversary brings up player-fan security issues

  • Published On May 02, 2013
  • 32 comments
    wingcommanderthrush
    wingcommanderthrush

    Seles was improving rapidly on grass, her performances were better yaer on year, it was only a matter of time before she beat Graf. Also Graf had the head to head 6-4, but she was no 1 when Seles arrived on the scene. Seles had her on other surfaces and was getting better, she was not the finished article. I believe she would have taken at least 8 of Grafs subsequent Grand Slam wins. Steffi, whilst a great player is only where she is on the list because of the stabbing. I'd put Seles ahead of her in the all time stakes based on her wins, her progress and what she would have gone on to acheive. Is Navratilova bitter? Maybe, but she is higher on the all time list than Steffi as she won 18 in an era with Chris Evert, also 18, with no competition, like Graf after the stabbing, either one would have won 30+ slams.

    jakhar.hans
    jakhar.hans

    @askwho You have posted a nice article, which explains everything. In the article under discussion, it is told that Seles won 22 finals out of 33 during 1991, 92 and part of 93. She had won 8 slams till then. Does that mean she would have surpassed the total of 24 as stated by Navratilova. If a layman had said this then it would have been ok, but she is a top tennis player herself and has seen all ups and downs in her career.

    Seles won 10 finals each in 1991 and 92 and the remaining two in Jan, Feb 1993. Navratilova won 10 or more tournaments for 9 straight years from 1978 to 1986 and from 1982 to 86 she won 15, 16, 13, 12, 14 respectively out of 18,17,15, 17,17 respectively. That means 70 out of 84 and Seles won only 22 out of 34 and also lost 11 finals to the same opponents against whom she won. Against Graf she won 2 lost 3, Navratilova she won 6 lost 4, she also lost against Sanchez, Sabatini, Capriati. Navratilova won six straight slams in 1983, 84 and prior to that also she had won 3 out of 4 finals. That means she had won 9 out of 10 finals. Her performance was better in that period than what Seles achieved in 81-83, but did she go on to surpass Court. She barely managed to equal Evert at 18 when Graf lost unexpectedly against Garrison in sf.


    Navratilova outburst seems to have  come out  of her frustration that Graf crossed her total, while she hoped  Seles would be able to stop Graf.

    askwho
    askwho

    Let's be true when we say facts. Seles, while she was no. 1, dominated the WTA tour but never dominated Graf.

    Lifetime: Graf 10 v Seles 5
    Before the stabbing: Graf 6 v Seles 4
    After the stabbing: Graf 4 v Seles 1
    During Seles years where she was year end #1 (91 & 92): Graf 3 v Seles 1
    During Seles entire reign as World #1: (91,92, part 93):  Graf 3 v Seles 2
    Matches in Majors prior to the stabbing: Graf 3 v Seles 3

    This article gives a fact-based analysis of Steffi Graf's legacy vis-a-vis the "what if" titles of Seles. http://www.tennisfrontier.com/blogs/britbox/monica-seles-stabbing-steffi-grafs-legacy/

    Lakan_Kildap
    Lakan_Kildap

    how many Wimbledons would she have had to win to achieve the feat? Even if Monica won say 8 AO's (possible considering her form there), and maybe 7 each of FO and USO, she still needs 3 Wimbledons to reach 25. And that's really stretching it.

    This is the problem we have with predicting the "what if" career of Seles based on her 1991-early 1993 performance, you all think it would hold for the rest of her career, that she wouldn't slow down, and that other players wouldn't emerge to challenge her. If Martina Navratilova says Seles could have broken Court's record (I suppose she means the 24 singles overall, not the smaller number of majors during the Open era that Court won), then Seles would have had to win 3 majors out of 4 every year for 9 years, which would have been impossible. Even Federer, Nadal and Djokovic couldn't do it that long. Even Martina's own amazing prime (1982-1987) lasted only 6 years, before and after that, she was winning at a slower rate. It's way too optimistic to assume that Seles would have fared better than Navratilova.

    And I still don't think she was going to win more than one, maybe two Wimbledons, and it would have meant someone had ambushed Graf on the way to the final. The usual explanation that she got thoroughly thrashed by Graf in 1992 was because she wasn't allowed to scream by Wimbledon's starchy lords is total BS. Seles is too great a player to resort to such an excuse. She got beat. I mean, how many Wimbledon finals did she make before she got stabbed? Exactly one.

    StingStungMe
    StingStungMe

    Exactly Pam. Gunther got exactly what he wanted. That is Steffi back in the number 1 spot and Monica gone.What did they give Gunther again? Probation? Add in that Gabriela Sabatini was the only tennis player who voted to let Monica keep her ranking, Monica got the short end of the stick.Mentally Monica wasn't the same when she finally returned.  Add in her father's death and she just seemed to lack the passion she once had.She loved her dad. He made tennis fun for her. Monica was a great champion. I don't have to think about what could have been when it comes to her. Her career is fantastic.

    Tony31
    Tony31

    this news report has been heavily edited, with portions cut out which make Navratilova look like a bitch.  Portions cut out had to do with her utterly bitchy comments about STeffi Graf.  After all these years, it still rankles that Graf outstripped her in tennis.  Navratilova is great in many ways, but mention Graf and she sees red and makes her lose her marbles!!!  not classy at all, and certainly makes her look really bad and immature.

    miraclem29
    miraclem29

    Martina Navratilova and Mary Jo Fernandez are right about Monica's promise and about how sad it is that much of it went unfulfilled. Btw, I am impressed whenever I hear Martina Navratilova speak. She is usually downright eloquent!  I can only imagine how facile she is with language when speaking her first language!

    kuruc111
    kuruc111

    martina hingis, the second best magyar player of all time. from kassa, hungary!!!

    kuruc111
    kuruc111

    monika szeles, the greatest magyar tennis player of all time!!! from ujvidek, hungary!!!

    Lakan_Kildap
    Lakan_Kildap

    how would she have dealt with Martina Hingis, who owned her?

    aidanhell
    aidanhell

    1. Navratilova and others are way out of line: Seles' stabbing diminished everyone who was involved, including the WTA, which did nothing following the stabbing to keep Monica in the fold. In fact, everyone seems to forget how disliked Seles was at the time.But we lost what would have been the greatest rivalry.  2. Steffi Graf's injuries kept her out of the game for as long as Seles. two years. Imagine the slams she could have won even with Seles around.3 Seles lost her passion for tennis when her father passed away, THAT robbed her of her will, her willingness to win. Her fitness level was never good, and was disastrous from 98-00, 02- retirement. 4. Graf's game had room for evolution, Seles's didnt. Seles was barely beating Graf on clay (10-8 in the third at Garros 1992) where Graf destroyed her on fast surfaces (look at their wimby record). I have been a fan of both these players, and love rewatching their matches. Smart, strong...warriors. Amazing players, greatest of their generation, BOTH. 

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

    badger, oh my,

     

    martina goes out of her way to diminish graf's career. REALLY?? seles would have won more majors, no question, but her fitness was a serious impediment. monica was crushing steffi, every time they met, despite her fitness impediment, according to you. i believe that she lost wimbledon to steffi because she tried too hard to muffle her grunts, which were true, exhalation grunts, not screams like screamapova. this threw monica off her game. monica's being stabbed created big time PTSD, for her. PTSD is a real and crippling disorder. steffi really benefited from monica's stabbing. not really saying that her thug father had anything to do with it, but it does make you say HMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!

    badgernation74
    badgernation74

    Navratilova goes out of her way to diminish Graf's career and goes nuts anytime someone suggests Graf was the best ever. Seles would have won more majors, no question, but her lack of fitness was a serious impediment. That catches up with athletes fast after age 20.

    Maria Dolores
    Maria Dolores

    I don't think she would have broken Court's record; but I agree she would have won some four more Slams.

    I believe Monica and Steffi would have split the slams of those two years. (Sanchez, Martinez and Pierce

    wouldn't have won none of their '94 and '95 Slams). Steffi was getting better and better when Monica began

    to put pressure on her game. Maybe it's Steffi the one who would have 25 Slams if Monica had never been

    sidelined. 

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

    yes, martina is correct. monica owned steffi graff. the psychopath who stabbed her received no jail time, since, he was considered insane. but, then again he was not placed in psych facility. so he got away with attempted murder and was a danger to others, as a psychcopth. yeah, steffi, really lucked out on monica's attack??

    StingStungMe
    StingStungMe

     @Lakan_Kildap Martina benefited from timing. Graf was on her way out and the Williams sisters were just starting when she was already established.Monica wasn't as intense. She was apprehensive at times. She wasn't  as fearless on her return. Martina's resume would not have look nearly as good had Monica been around the entire time.

    miraclem29
    miraclem29

     @Lakan_Kildap?!? AFTER her stabbing, Monica lost something. And how did Hingis "deal with" Serena and Venus?

     

    michael162
    michael162

    @aidanhell .....before her stabbing she had won 7 of 10 grand slams and Graf had won 2 of 10....your history book is a little different than reality. Graf won the next 3 grand slams without Seles in the tournament.......even with the broadest of minds it is safe to say that the stabbing of Monica Seles was one of the biggest moments in Graf's career......

    Prometheus77
    Prometheus77

     @aidanhell 

    Navratilova out of line? Correct me if my memory is wrong, but wasn't it Navratilova who coaxed Seles back into the game and played an exhibition with her, which marked her return? And really what was the WTA supposed to do? Pressure her into returning earlier, stop all competition until she was ready to come back? There wasn't much they could do. Also Seles father died some 5 years after the attack, so really, there is no denying that that lunatic, who stabbed her, robbed Seles of an outstanding career. Injuries notwhitstanding. The grand totals of Seles' and Graf's accomplishments would be much closer and judging by the rate Seles was going in '92/'93, it wouldn't be a big surprise if she would have surpassed Graf.

    miraclem29
    miraclem29

     @cleopatra209?!? "Fitness?"  Monica won 8 majors in 3 years.  She only gained that much weight AFTER the stabbing. The point is that Monica was years YOUNGER than Steffi and was BEATING her pre-stabbing.  It doesn't take Einstein to add 2 and 2 here. Monica was Steffi's main competition and had figured out "pre-stabbing" how to beat her. No WAY Steffi wins 22 majors if that didn't happen. Only the delusional try to "argue" otherwise. Period.

     

    badgernation74
    badgernation74

     @cleopatra209

    Are you unstable? So not only was the stabbing a good thing for Graf, but you're hinting that her father did it for her. You can keep believing that Seles "was crushing steffi every time they met" but stats don't lie. They played 15 times, Graf won 10.  Looks like Gunter Parche isn't the only lunatic tennis fan out there.

    miraclem29
    miraclem29

     @badgernation74?!? Lack of "fitness?!"  You don't win 8 majors if you're "unfit!"  Monica didn't gain all that weight till she was stabbed for cryin' out loud!  Some people have crazily tried to call the great Serena "unfit,"  too.  But FIVE tournaments in FIVE months sounds fit as a fiddle to me!

     

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

     @badgernation74 martina does not go nuts anytime someone suggest that graf was the best ever, because graf was not the best ever, MARTINA IS. tennis is about all three venues, singles, doubles and mixed. who can match martina on that level. certainly not graf. she is such a flake that she bailed on mcenroe during one of the wimbledon mixed matches. wonder how john feels about that??

    badgernation74
    badgernation74

     @Maria Dolores

     I love Steffi too, but let's not get silly here. Graf had her own issues with injury, her father's scandals, even the threat of being in jail herself for his tax evasion. Those things hindered her Slam totals, not Seles' absence.

    Tony31
    Tony31

     @cleopatra209 owned Steffi Graf? do your work and research.  the head to head before the stabbing had Graf ahead of Seles.  "Owned" means something like Nadal's 20-10 ownership of Federer.  Oh, by the end of their careers, it was 10-5, to Graf. So don't be stupid.

    badgernation74
    badgernation74

     @cleopatra209

     Not true. At no point in their head to head, did Seles lead Graf pre stabbing, post stabbing, NEVER. They ended 10-5 in favor of Graf. And it was not a gift to Graf to have a psycopathic obsessed fan on the loose. Many of those people turn on the object of their obsession. Shame on you for suggesting that.

    Lakan_Kildap
    Lakan_Kildap

    @miraclem29 @Lakan_Kildap Hingis didn't exactly fare badly against Williams sisters, did she? Beat them in AO of 2002, both of them, although she lost the final to Capriati.

    miraclem29
    miraclem29

     @badgernation74  @cleopatra209, stats "lie" when you include the post- stabbing ones and don't consider that Monica, who'd already beaten an older Graf again and again, was just NINETEEN when she was stabbed!

     

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

     @badgernation74 tomsam said it best. LOCK AND LOAD THAT!! and no i am not unstable. i take my meds every day, sometimes BID OR TID; SO I AM WELL MEDICATED!!

    Lakan_Kildap
    Lakan_Kildap

    @Tony31 @cleopatra209 exactly. 

    People look at that small window of 1991-early 1993 and assume it would hold for the rest of Monica's career.

    Lakan_Kildap
    Lakan_Kildap

    @miraclem29@Lakan_Kildap Plus, I (and others) can always ask the same question about Seles: how, even without the stabbing, would she have done against the Williams sisters? 

     This is the problem we have with predicting the what if career of Seles based on her 1991-early 1993 performance, you all think it would hold for the rest of her career, and that other players wouldn't emerge to challenge her. If Martina Navratilova says Seles could have broken Court's record (I suppose she means the 24 singles overall, not the smaller number of majors during the Open era that Court won), then Seles would have had to win 3 majors out of 4 every year for 9 years, which would have been impossible. Even Federer, Nadal and Djokovic couldn't do it that long. Even Martina's own amazing prime (1982-1987) lasted only 6 years, before and after that, she was winning at a slower rate. It's way too optimistic to assume that Seles would have fared better than Navratilova.

    And I still don't think she was going to win more than one, maybe two Wimbledons, and it would have meant someone had ambushed Graf on the way to the final. The usual explanation that she got thoroughly thrashed by Graf in 1992 was because she wasn't allowed to scream by Wimbledon's starchy lords is total BS. Seles is too great a player to resort to such an excuse. She got beat. I mean, how many Wimbledon finals did she make before she got stabbed? Exactly one.

    If she doesn't win many Wimbledons, how does she make up the deficit to Margaret Court's record? Win the AO 12 times? The USO 9 times? The French 8 times?

    This is all speculation. Seles' stabbing was/is a great crime, and we are all the poorer because of it, but saying she would have won more than 24 is pure BS.