Serena Williams retiring at the US Open will once again inevitably bring up the ‘greatest of all time’ debate, and it’s hard to argue against her.
The 40-year-old has 23 Grand Slam titles, which is more than anyone else in the Open era, and even won one of those while two months pregnant.
In the women’s game you have people like Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert who are also in the conversation, you can add in Billie Jean King for all the things she has done off the court.
READ MORE :I m 58 and never want to have sex again: Monica says she is repelled by the thought of being physically intimate with a man since the menopause… and she insists she is only daring to articulate what many women her age feel
Someone not in the mix who could and should have been is Monica Seles, who unfortunately was never able to reach her potential because of a shocking on court stabbing back in 1993.
She burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old by winning the French Open in 1990, defeating Graf in the final.
Seles won seven of the next 11 Grand Slams, with all eight of those being won while she was a teenager.
She won three Australian Opens and French Opens in a row, as well as two US Opens back-to-back.
The only one she could not manage was Wimbledon, losing to Graf in the 1992 final.
But in 1993 she was the victim of a shocking attack by a tennis fan who was obsessed with Graf.
During a quarter-final at the Citizen Cup in Hamburg, Seles was facing Magdalena Maleeva and during a change over the man stabbed her with a nine-inch knife in her back, between her shoulder blades.
It made a 1.5 inch wound, but fortunately it had missed her spine and vital organs. The culprit, who claimed he carried out the attack so Graf would be number one again, was given a two-year suspended sentence due to severe mental health issues.
Seles recovered from the stabbing in just a few weeks, but she did not return to the tennis court for another two years.
She suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.
“I had a lot of emotions,” Seles told the LA Times in 1995. “When I stepped on the court, that’s when I’d get angry. Tennis never did anything bad to me. The tennis court was my place.
“Anything that was happening in my private life, I could forget about it and think of the ball. I felt the safest there. All my worries were gone. I didn’t have to think about anything when I was there. Suddenly, that was taken away.”
She continued: “I was for so long in such a dark place. So unhappy. I thought after [the stabbing] there was no way up, I didn’t know how to go up.
“I felt I was in a deep hole and getting deeper. My dad told me, ‘Maybe you need professional help.’ I had a very hard time talking about it. I couldn’t keep from crying. But I felt I was doing the right thing because I was going deeper and deeper, down and down.
“I didn’t know how to get out. I didn’t think there was a way out. If I hadn’t have done that, gone to a psychologist, it would have been bye-bye, Monica.”
Seles eventually returned to the tennis court in 1995, where she made the final of the US Open and then won the Australian Open the following year.
She reached two more finals in her career, but did not win any more Slams before eventually calling it a day in 2003.
Seles finished with nine Grand Slam titles, which is an incredible achievement, but fans and players alike were left wondering about what could have been had that terrible incident never happened.
“She would have won so much more,” said Navratilova told tennis.com.
“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.”