Martina Navratilova tells espnW that had former No. 1 Monica Seles not been stabbed in April 1993 by Guenther Parche, a crazed Steffi Graf fan, she may have become the best player ever. After Seles returned to the tour in August 1995 she only won one more major, the 1996 Australian Open, and ended her career with nine major titles.
“She would have won so much more,” said Navratilova, who owns 18 Grand Slam singles titles. “We’d be talking about Monica with the most Grand Slam titles [ahead of] Margaret Court (who has 24) or Steffi Graf. Steffi had 22 but she didn’t have anyone to play against. This guy changed the course of tennis history, no doubt about that.”
Seles’ close friend and former rival Mary Joe Fernandez added:
“People forget if you look at [Seles’] record, she has nine Grand Slams, which is an amazing career. But she would have had double that at least. . . . She took our game to another level.”
Former top player Pam Shriver added that the incident must have been a huge burden for Graf to carry. But Navratilova isn’t so sure.
“I’m sure it shook [Graf] up, but she won a lot more than she would have otherwise,” Navratilova said. “If it affected her that deeply, she would have forged a stronger bond with Monica instead of ignoring her. It was nice initially [for Graf to see Seles in the hospital], but after that?”
Graf has claimed in the past that Seles refused to take her phone calls after the hospital visit.