April 30, 1993. Hamburg tournament quarterfinals. Monica Seles, she dominates her quarterfinal match against the Bulgarian Magdalena Maleeva 6-4 and 4-3 when she prepares to sit in her chair for the mandatory break. That moment forever changed the career and life of the then undisputed number 1 in the world.
A disturbed man approached him from behind and stabbed him with a knife., to the stupor of those who were present there at that time. It was about Günther Parch, a 38-year-old German obsessed with Steffi Grafthe great victim of Seles’ emergence on the WTA circuit, to such an extent that she felt suicidal every time her idol lost a match.
“During the break after a game, I rushed to the end because I hadn’t had any water to drink and suddenly I felt a horrible pain in my back… I turned around looking for where the pain was coming from and saw a man behind me raising a knife at me.Seles declared some time later.
This aggression cut short the career of a tennis player called to enter the Olympus of racket legends. In 1990, and at just 16 years old, he won Roland Garros, and before turning 20 he already had eight Grand Slam titles (three Australian Open, three Roland Garros and two US Open) and had become the great dominator of world tennis.
In fact, that year 1993 began in an unbeatable way for the Serbian, who stood in Hamburg after winning the Australian Open and the Chicago tournament and reaching the final in Paris. Everything pointed to the beginning of a dynasty that could make her the best player in historybut his stabbing ended everything.
Although the wound on her back healed in a few weeks, the psychological consequences kept her away from the tracks for more than two years. He did not reappear until the 1995 Montreal Open and, despite the long inactivity, his comeback was spectacular: he won the title without losing a single set and only 14 games in five matches, against the likes of Anke Huber, Gabriela Sabatini or Amanda Coetzer.
“Suddenly I felt a horrible pain in my back… I turned around and saw a man behind me raising a knife against me”
Two weeks later she stood up at the US Open, where she once again demonstrated that she was still a champion in capital letters. Only Steffi Graf in the grand final (7-6, 0-6, 6-3) was able to break the dream of a Seles who had numerous psychological problems because of the aggression suffered and because of the terminal cancer that his father was diagnosed with at that time.
Seles returned to the slopes with an obvious overweight. 15 extra kilos caused by an eating disorder that did not prevent him from continuing to win games, despite his lower mobility and his lack of spark and joy on the track.
That year, 1995, she never played again, and despite the fact that she started 1996 winning in Sydney and the Australian Open, she was never the same. In fact, that Australian Open was the last Grand Slam of her career, although she played in three other finals. He also failed to regain the number 1 that he held for 178 weeks. Steffi Graf’s reign was succeeded by Martina Hingis first and the Williams sisters later.
A painful defeat (6-4, 6-0 against Nadia Petrova) ended her sports career. It was in 2003, she in the first round of Roland Garros, the tournament that saw her born as a tennis star at the age of 16.
His tennis will go down in history, always on the attack, hitting hard and looking for the lines. And also the question of what would have happened if Günther Parch had not crossed his path on that fateful April 30, 1993. Perhaps we would have attended the consecration of the best player in history.