BUDAPEST, Hungary -- WTA Legend Monica Seles was the special guest at Children’s Day at the Hungarian Ladies Open on Saturday. Seles spoke about her career to hundreds of children on site, and then signed autographs and took pictures with the youths in attendance.
Seles, who was born into a Hungarian family in what was then Yugoslavia (now Serbia), spoke about her formative years, and how her family gave her the motivation to excel at tennis. Her late father, Karolj, was a cartoonist who famously doodled on tennis balls to keep young Monica entertained while she practiced.
The nine-time Grand Slam champion said that her title at the Orange Bowl junior event in Miami, Florida at the age of 12 drew the attention of famed coach Nick Bollettieri, and that was when her tennis career started in earnest, changing her life for good.
The former World No. 1 went on to say that endurance and stamina was her greatest strength, not her talent. She explained that staying focused on the court was the main key to her success.
Seles recalled that Martina Navratilova supported her to evolve into a better player when she turned professional at age 14. She said her concentration and constant practicing led her to her first Grand Slam title, at Roland Garros in 1990 at age 16.
But Seles then mentioned how her early success cast a shadow on her performance, and she struggled with motivation to continue playing. However, she came to the realization that her love for the game was so strong, that she overcame those doubts to play tennis even harder than before, and continued to claim the biggest titles in tennis.