From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.33 :: NO.13 :: Apr. 01, 2010

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TENNIS / INTERVIEW/MONICA SELES

A different personality now

“Definitely, as a former player, when I watch I'd like the best players to play against each other. That's where you see the highest level of tennis being played. The Australian Open was great.”

Monica Seles is perhaps enjoying the best phase of her life. There is a certain radiance in her face, a certain joy in her talk and you can feel a sense of contentment and happiness in her life. The former World No. 1 is involved in many social projects helping under-privileged children, under the aegis of Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. She also takes lessons on weight loss for women and holds tennis clinics for kids.

The 36-year-old, who was in Abu Dhabi for the Laureus World Sports Awards, spoke about a variety of things including the 1993 stabbing incident.

On Laureus: Though I have attended the awards function many times before, I became an Academy member only recently when Edwin Moses, Chairman, Laureus Academy, requested me to do so. I believe in the message of Laureus and what it stands for. I have been involved in a project in South Africa and two different projects in New York. I went to the White House this year to push for equality for women's sports.

Sports helping development: The life skills that sport teaches you are really invaluable. From discipline to having a good body, there are a lot of things young girls can learn from sports.

Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin's comeback: I think for Kim to have a child along the way and come back and win a Grand Slam (U.S. Open) last year was really amazing. The way she played with such mental toughness and conviction in the U.S. Open will be an inspiration for any woman.

Justine's comeback is great for the sport. She has already shown her mettle in the Australian Open this year (she lost to Serena in the final). I think 2010 is going to be as good as it can get.

With the two pushing Serena and Venus Williams, Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic and Dinara Safina, it is going to be really good. To me all this is going to be great as a tennis fan.

Rivalries: Definitely, as a former player, when I watch I'd like the best players to play against each other. That's where you see the highest level of tennis being played. The Australian Open was great.

The French Open will be even more interesting. Justine will be the favourite to win the French Open. But Kim is a great mover and a fantastic player. I can't wait for the French Open to start and watch Kim and Justine play.

Why she likes the French Open the most: Every player has his/her own favourite Grand Slam. At 16 years when you win your first Grand Slam title, it is always special. The French Open will always remain very special in my life.

Roger Federer: He is a true ambassador for the sport. The way he has conducted himself on and off the court has been simply amazing. He is going to dominate the sport for a long time to come.

My father: He (Karolj) taught me to balance education and sport. He has been a true inspiration for me. I live life now based on his principles. He always wanted me to be happy.

The stabbing incident: It was definitely a very difficult period. At that time I was only 19 years old. And at the top of the sport. But one of the things I am so proud of is that I tried to come back and do something that I really enjoyed doing, which is playing tennis. I don't think about it now. Not at all, that was in 1993, it is history, I am very much happy now.

K. Keerthivasan



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