News from 2015

Seles In Istanbul


Seles Shines In Istanbul


Seles in Istanbul

Lesia Tsurenko won her first WTA Tour title on Sunday in Turkey, taking down Urszula Radwanska in the final of the (deep breath) TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup. But my personal highlight from that day was a Monica Seles sighting. The nine-time Grand Slam singles champ interviewed Tsurenko on court after the championship match:

Before that, Seles posed with the doubles winners and finalists, including runner-up Jelena Jankovic, who as a Serb came from Seles' former Yugoslavia and into the professional ranks. All in all, Seles presented the championship trophies and held a kids' clinic before that while decked out in full Yonex regalia with what I always consider a Britney Spears Mic.

As Seles doesn't make a slew of public appearances annually, it's a delight to see her in action whenever possible. Here's to more of exactly that in 2015.


Seles Lights Up Final Days In Istanbul


Seles in Istanbul

ISTANBUL, Turkey - One of the WTA's all-time greats, Monica Seles, made a special trip to Istanbul this past week for Finals Day at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup, hitting with kids as part of a special kids clinic and helping hand out the trophies for the singles and doubles finals on Sunday night.


Gabriela Sabatini vs. Monica Seles


Seles & Sabatini

Gabriela Sabatini beat Monica Seles, 8-5 in a pro set, at their 25th anniversary rematch of the WTA Tour final that Seles won in five sets at MSG. This was part of the eight annual BNP Paribas tennis exhibition at Madison Square Garden on March 10, 2015.


Hall of Famer Gabriela Sabatini motivated for upcoming Garden showdown vs. Monica Seles


Seles & Sabatini

Gabriela Sabatini has good reason to love New York. It is here where she won the three biggest titles in her Hall of Fame tennis career: the 1990 U.S. Open and the 1988 and 1994 WTA tour championships at the Garden.

"It's very motivating, the energy is so special, so unique," Sabatini said Friday, previewing her exhibition match Mar. 10 against Monica Seles at the Garden. "You don't feel it anywhere else. The crowd is very intense, loud, that gives you extra motivation. You put more into the match. From the moment I arrived in New York, I was so energized. Everything changed, my mood."

The one big match she lost here was the epic five-set final of the WTA championships against Seles in 1990. The glamorous Argentine had upset Steffi Graf in the U.S. Open final that year, then again during the WTA championships at the Garden. But despite those sweeping, topspin groundstrokes, Sabatini lost to Seles in what was the first, five-setter for both players, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

"I always remember how exciting it was," Sabatini, 44, said. "During the game, I didn't feel tired at all. I was so focused and motivated, I didn't realize how long it lasted. Then after the match, I was exhausted. I couldn't even walk."

Sabatini eventually retired after a loss to Jennifer Capriati in October, 1996. She says she has kept busy these past two decades with her German perfume company, Muelhens, with travel, biking, swimming and spending time with friends and family. She has trained hard for this match, and already played exhibitions against Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova.

"I don't have opportunity to meet up with former players as much," Sabatini said. "I played a few exhibition matches, so kept in touch with them a little. It's great to meet with them now, not so much as tennis players, but as friends."

Her relationship with Seles remains uniquely strong, because Sabatini was the only top player to support Seles's return to tennis with a protected, top seed - after Seles had been stabbed in 1993 by a crazed fan in Hamburg.

"This episode, I was in shock," Sabatini said. "I thought it could be any one of us in that place. It was a very disturbing moment. I took the decision based as a human, as a person, trying to put myself in her place. I thought with my personal mind, as a human, this is something happen if I was in that position."

Sabatini and Seles will play at the Garden on Mar. 10 before Roger Federer faces Grigor Dimitrov in another exhibition.


Monica Seles' Unknown Battle


Monica Seles' professional tennis career is one of the most compelling and well-known in the history of the sport. As a teenager, she took the women's tennis world by storm, bursting into the scene when she won the 1990 French Open at age 16.

Over the next few years, from 1991 through early 1993, she won seven out of nine grand slam tournaments played, only failing to win Wimbledon, where she finished as the runner-up in 1992.

Having won eight grand slam tournaments before she turned 20, Seles is the winningest teenager in the history of the game. To put it into perspective, Serena Williams reached that number at age 25. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both won their eighth major after they turned 24, while Novak Djokovic did it last week aged 27.

It all came to a sudden stop on April 30, 1993.

On that date, the course of tennis history was forever altered when, while playing a quarterfinal match in Hamburg, a deranged fan stabbed her between her shoulder blades during a recess in the contest. Seles was immediately rushed to the hospital and healed completely after several weeks. She, however, took a hiatus of over two years from tennis after the incident.

Seles retired from tennis unofficially in 2003, after dropping her first round match at that year's French Open. There is one battle, however, that she has been fighting on a daily basis since her young adulthood and probably will for the rest of her life: her fight against binge eating disorder.

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to speak to Seles about her history in dealing with this little known eating disorder that affects many unsuspecting adults all over the world and her desire to raise awareness about it.

"I developed binge eating disorder in my early adulthood," Seles said. "After suffering from several binge eating episodes, for example, when I won a big tennis tournament instead of wanting to go out and celebrate with my coach, trainers, and family, I couldn't wait to get back to my hotel room and just binge eat."

Binge Eating Disorder was recognized as a formal medical condition in 2013 and only a health care provider can diagnose it. It is the most common eating disorder among adults, yet most people that suffer from it, do not even know that they have it, given that is not very well-known.

It consists of, among other symptoms, eating large quantities of food in a short period of time. An important aspect to consider about this disorder is the impact it may have on one's self-esteem. Most people that are diagnosed with binge eating disorder report a lack of control over how much they are eating and an inability to stop while in the middle of an episode. People who suffer from it tend to regret those binges immediately after they are over.

"For me as an athlete, it was just very hard to understand how I could be so in control and disciplined in the tennis court and in my training, yet when it came to eating, I would just binge eat," Seles said. "When they finally diagnosed me with binge eating disorder, it was a huge relief off my shoulders. It had nothing to do with me not having willpower or being weak. I had a real medical condition."

The amount of food that professional and college athletes need to eat on a daily basis in order to make up for the amount of calories that they burn during training and while in competition has never been a secret. Once their careers are done, they often struggle to switch back to normal eating habits, and deal with weight problems for the rest of their lives. That, however, was not the issue with Seles.

"Binge eating is an ongoing battle, whether you are competing or not competing," Seles said. "Binge is eating a large amount of food in a very short period of time. It's not about being hungry or not hungry. This is why it was so difficult for me to understand that I was so out of control with my eating."

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Seles decided to participate in a public service announcement that was launched on Tuesday to raise awareness about the disorder that has been a part of her life for several years now.

"I want people to know that there is help out there and for them to contact their healthcare provider," Seles said.

When asked if she felt that there is an important psychological aspect behind binge eating disorder, Seles agreed with that belief and supported it by going back to her own personal experience dealing with it, given that back then she could not understand what it was that she was going through and why.

More and more disorders get discovered each and every day, whether they are eating disorders, or of any other kind. Most if not all of them are related one way or another, to psychological aspects, whether fueled by events of one's own pasts, or triggered by chemicals in the brain.

Research has not quite arrived yet at a definitive cause for binge eating disorder, but scientists suspect that a possible reason is family history. Another belief is that recovery from rigid eating habits may lead to an individual having binge eating disorder once they abandon those habits. Finally, another thought is that this disorder may be the result of environmental factors or a coping mechanism after a traumatic event in one's life.

Regardless of its cause, binge eating disorder is a real issue in today's world. Every person probably knows someone who suffers from this yet he or she may not know they have it because they do not know of its existence. That right there is Seles' reasoning behind coming forward about her battle against this disorder.

Just like she was able to come back from the stabbing incident early on in her career to win her ninth grand slam tournament at the 1995 Australian Open, Seles has been able to dominate binge eating disorder ever since she went and sought help. Therefore, her goal now is to help other people like her, who deal with this disorder on a daily basis, so that they themselves can start healing and defeat this disorder.


Tennis Great Monica Seles Opens Up About Binge-Eating Disorder


Monica Seles is known for her remarkable tennis career, but not many people knew that the tennis great struggled with binge eating disorder for nearly 10 years.

In an interview with "Good Morning America"'s Lara Spencer, Seles opened up about her experience in an effort to raise awareness about the disorder.

People with binge eating disorder (B.E.D.) frequently eat an unusually large amount of food but do not throw it up, according U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Women's Health.

The binges may result in feelings of shame and embarrassment and may lead to obesity and other health problems. According to the Office of Women's Health, as many as 4 million Americans suffer from the disorder, which tends to affect women more than men.

Seles is a paid spokesperson for Shire Pharmaceuticals, the drug company that make Vyvanse - the first drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of the disorder. Vyvanse is already approved for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Seles, 41, also appears in new public service campaign about the disorder, including a public service announcement that debuted on Tuesday.

"My binge-eating episodes will usually happen in the evenings when I would be back by myself after a long day at the tennis courts and would just eat large quantities of food," she says in the spot that's a partnership with Shire Pharmaceuticals, the National Eating Disorder Association and the Binge Eating Disorder Association. "My eating was just uncontrollable. Once the binge was over I felt so upset with myself."

Seles told Spencer that she wants fellow binge eating disorder sufferers to know that they're not alone.

"I look at my life and how many years I wasted by being shamed about it, hiding it from my family and friends and doing my binges in private … now there's help out there," she said, mentioning the website, which has information and resources about B.E.D.

Seles told Spencer that stressful situations led to her binges.

"My trigger foods were pretzels, potato chips," she said. "And I would do them alone because I was so ashamed that, here, I was a tennis player who was so controlling on the tennis court. I could direct. I'm very dedicated. Yet, in this one area of binge eating I was out of control."

She said her turning point came when she was asked to be a bridesmaid at a friend's wedding.

"I wanted to be glamorous. I had my hair done, everything. And my friend had one of the most beautiful weddings. And I just wanted to feel like, you know, a beautiful girl and all that stuff," she said. "And here I had to go in for countless different fittings because my weight would be fluctuating because of my binge eating. So for me that came a point where I said, 'There's more to life than this. And I -- and I need to get help.'"

Seles said she decided to talk to her doctor and come up with a plan that worked for her, and had a message for others: "If you feel you're experiencing some of the symptoms of binge eating sort of go out there, talk to your health care provider. There's help out there. You don't have to suffer in silence like I did for so many years."

Seles will return to the court on March 10 for a match against Gabriela Sabatini at Madison Square Garden in New York.


Monica Seles brings energy back to Madison Square Garden


Seles ended up winning 11 of 14 matches against Gabriela Sabatini, but what she remembers most about the glamorous Argentinian is Sabatini's support after Seles was stabbed in 1993 by a madman in Hamburg.

Seles and Sabatini

It has been nearly 25 years since Monica Seles outlasted Gabriela Sabatini in an epic WTA final at the Garden - the first five-set tennis match ever for women. The year-end tournament soon left New York for Germany, and the five-set format never caught on. But Seles thinks of both that match and her opponent in the fondest terms.

"I always loved playing three out of five, it's more of an equalizer if you're a slow starter, more of a true barometer," Seles said Thursday, in a conference call. "I think the ladies are definitely fit enough to play best-of-five matches, and I think at Grand Slams it would be a lot of fun in the semis and final."

Don't hold your breath for such a radical change. In the meantime, Seles will play a best-of-three exhibition match at the Garden on March 10 against Sabatini, part of the BNP Paribas Showdown before Roger Federer takes on Grigor Dimitrov.

Seles was just 14 years old when she first faced the more established Sabatini at the Miami Masters in 1988.

Seles lost. The occasion was nearly as intimidating as Sabatini's heavy topspin groundstrokes.

"She was already a star and it was my first night match," Seles said. "I was absolutely star-struck with her. But she was such a lady on and off the court, if you won against her or lost against her."

Seles ended up winning 11 of 14 matches against Sabatini, but what she remembers most about the glamorous Argentinian is Sabatini's support after Seles was stabbed in 1993 by a madman in Hamburg. Upon Seles' return to tennis two years later, Sabatini was the only top woman player who openly supported Seles' bid to freeze her No. 1 ranking.

"She thought about a human being before a dollar amount," Seles said. "That speaks about a tremendous amount of character."

Seles, 41, said she is looking forward to playing at the Garden again, and would play as competitively as possible.

"For me, one of the saddest days was when the season-ending championships were moved to Germany," she said. "The Garden was the perfect setting. You play at MSG, the stands are really close and you feel the energy. As a player, you just thrive on that."