A radiant smile, a light dress, pink flip flops and all the experience that a fabulous career has given her a place in the Hall of Fame of the sport: Monica Seles came to the WTA Finals of Singapore in one of the rare occasions when she leaves her home to appear to the public. She said to have travelled enough during her days as a player: for that she rarely shows up around the world, following the tour, and for that she has turned down many requests to become a coach. No doubt she would make a great one and egoistically it is a shame she does not chat to the press more often, because as you can read in this brief summary and most of all listen in full in the audio track below, she has lots to say and to share.
Comparing the old days to the new ones is often a hot topic of conversation, with many feelings that the much more open field of these days does not allow great rivalries to build. For Seles this, however, is not a problem, because the quality of the players now makes it an exciting tour: “It seems like that now every week is everyone’s tournament to win. It was like that at the US Open and it feels just the same here. I think this is just great to see and it feels just as great for the players going into 2017, because now players know that nobody is unbeatable. When I was playing, you knew there were these players that when you would get you would go ‘oh no!’ but that does not mean there are no rivalries”.
In such open field, however, it was one woman to have shined and impressed her name on the season: Angelique Kerber. For her, the winner of 9 slam titles said to have a great admiration: “I am impressed by how much Angie has improved mentally. She has matured so much and I was more impressed by her win at the US Open than the Australian Open, because in New York she had a lot more pressure to solidify her status as world number one”.
For Seles, one of the reasons for the longevity of tennis stars nowadays is a slower, steadier and longer maturation: “I think it is a lot healthier for women that their tennis maturation comes later these days, because they can deal better with all the pressure, both physically and mentally, when they are 21 or 22, rather than 16. I think this has improved a lot, likewise, a lot has been down to keep the players healthy with the courts having been slowed down, the schedule is a lot lighter with 2 months off, which we did not have. You can see it is a lot better because now players stick around for longer”.
But is there anything, today, that she would have loved to have in the days she was competing? “I think right now, and I have spoken to some other players of my area about it, what I would have loved to be in my time: you would not have the same consistency expectations from your sponsors and coaches. In my time, when you would not get to the semis it was a catastrophe, now you just move on to the next tournament. I think a lot more tournaments are happening during the same week and this is terrific for the fans, but it also drops a little pressure from the players. And I would have loved to have the two months off”.
So was there anything she would have done differently in her career in light of what she has learnt today? “If I was given the chance to re-do my career, I would take the decision to start my career a little later. Because thinking back, you play so many hours since you are 7 and at some points it really catches up on you. It happened when I was 27 for me, even if I had two and a half years off. Plus, I think you can handle the off court attention better when you are 25 and you know yourself better”.
Ascolta A chat with Monica Seles at WTA Finals” su Spreaker.