Monica Seles

Great Champions

The Australian Open has seen some great comebacks; think Capriati's back-to-back titles in 2001 and 2002, Sampras clawing back to defeat Courier in their 1995 semifinal and Goolagong Cawley's 1977 post-pregnancy victory. Arguably the most amazing comeback of all belongs to Monica Seles.

Seles made her debut Down Under in 1991 ranked No.1 in the world, winning the tournament at her first attempt for the loss of one set (against Chanda Rubin in the semifinal). In 1992 Seles beat two-time finalist Mary Joe Fernandez for the title and in 1993, her rivalry with Steffi Graf at full throttle, she took down the German 4-6 6-3 6-2, equalling Court and Cawley's triple crowns of the 1970s.

But Seles' dream run turned into a nightmare in April 1993 when she was stabbed in the back by a fanatical Graf fan during a quarterfinal in Hamburg. At the peak of her game, she was sidelined for two years recovering from the physical and mental scars of the incident, not returning to Australian Open competition until 1996.

It was like she had never been away, the Yugoslav-born American 22-year-old cruising through the opening rounds of the tournament and fighting back from a set down against Rubin in the semifinal to take that match in three. In the final Seles defeated Anke Huber of Germany 6-4 6-2. It was the last Grand Slam title of her career and represented an incredible 32-match Australian Open winning streak.

After missing the tournament in 1997 and 1998, Seles raised that tally to 37-consecutive match victories in 1999, losing to eventual champion Martina Hingis in the semifinal. Skipping the tournament again in 2000, she was a quarterfinalist in 2001, a semifinalist in 2002 and played her last Melbourne match in 2003, losing to qualifier Klara Koukalova in the second round to post a formidable win-loss record of 43-4 at the Australian Open.

Seles made her debut Down Under in 1991 ranked No.1 in the world, winning the tournament at her first attempt for the loss of one set (against Chanda Rubin in the semifinal).