Miami, Feb 15: Monica Seles officially retired from tennis Thursday, five years after she played the last match of a career that included nine Grand Slam singles titles and was interrupted at its height when she was stabbed in the back during a match.
"I have for some time considered a return to professional play, but I have now decided not to pursue that," the 34-year-old Seles said in a statement released by her agent. "I will continue to play exhibitions, participate in charity events, promote the sport, but will no longer plan my schedule around the tour."
Playing two-handed strokes off both wings that were accompanied by two-note grunts, Seles won a total of 53 singles titles and first rose to No. 1 in March 1991. She was 17, at the time the youngest woman to have topped the rankings.
By the time she was 19, Seles earned eight major championships.
But in April 1993, at a tournament in Hamburg, Germany, she was attacked by a man who climbed out of the stands.
Seles returned to the game 27 months later and immediately reached the 1995 U.S. Open final. Her final Grand Slam title then came at the 1996 Australian Open.
She did reach two more major finals, but hampered by a left foot injury, her last match was a first-round loss at the 2003 French Open.
Thinking she might try to come back at some point, Seles never did say she was retired. And her legion of fans, drawn in as much by her engaging personality and giggle off the court as her game on it, held out hope of a return.
"No one will ever forget the fierce determination and will to win that Monica brought to the court, nor the caring and warm person that she has always been off the court," WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott said.
"Fans of women's tennis have no shortage of fond Monica memories and of amazing matches and rivalries that Monica was a part of. No doubt, Monica will soon find her rightful place at the International Tennis Hall of Fame for her many accomplishments on the tennis court."