Few players have hit tennis balls with as much relish as Monica Seles. Unlike many who have traipsed the tennis circuit, I never gave a thought to what Seles might’ve achieved, had someone NOT handed her a tennis racket in childhood.
Like many truly great players, Monica Seles was primarily the product of her father Karoly’s endeavour and influence, and her strokes were fully formed by the time others saw the benefits of being associated with such a rare talent. In fact, had they been given the opportunity, many coaches and purveyors of orthodoxy would’ve imposed the shallowness of their own vision on a young Seles, and the human ball machine would’ve been immeasurably less of a presence in the history of tennis, by being forced into a technical pigeon hole.
Fortunately, no formulaic influences found their way into Monica Seles’ game until her two handed groundstrokes were fully formed.
When she was hitting full tilt from the baseline, there was a sort of mechanical perpetual motion about Seles. She looked like a cross between a combine harvester on speed and something from War of the Worlds; a mobile gun unit, perhaps, that had just been dropped out of the Mothership to pound the natives into submission with fluffy yellow missiles.
Like her contemporary Steffi Graf, Monica Seles could shift the racket head through the air as quickly as anyone in the game: in Monica’s case, it was the extra hand on her forehand that helped her to whip a late preparation into what was arguably the most powerful forehand in the history of women’s tennis.
It isn’t surprising that after the stabbing incident in Hamburg, Monica was never quite the same. Although her strokes didn’t change, the tunnel of her vision was less intense and she no longer seemed able to hit tennis balls to the exclusion of all else, which, in different circumstances, would be no bad thing.
Whilst she may have lost the total focus necessary to rule the world from the confines of the court, Monica never lost a love of the game of tennis. I suppose this would put her in a minority group, of those tennis players fostered by parental influence who were thankful for what they were doing. This suggests that Eszster and Karoly balanced their parenting and technical nurturing to perfection.