The Attack That Changed The History Of Tennis

The Attack That Changed The History Of Tennis

Monica Seles. Image - Youtube

At the age of 19, elite tennis player Monica Seles’ tennis career was ruined when a fan of her opponent stabbed her in the back.

ON April 30, 1993, at the age of 19, elite tennis player Monica Seles’ tennis career was ruined when a fan of her opponent stabbed her in the back.

As reported by Pagina 12, last week marked the 28th anniversary of the chilling event that would change the face of tennis forever. On that day, world number one tennis player Monica Seles held a 6-4 and 4-3 advantage against Bulgarian player, Magdalena Maleeva, on the centre court of the Hamburg tournament.

A person in the crowd bypassed security controls during the change of ends and literally stabbed Seles in the back as she was waiting to restart the match.

Images of the incident were not captured, however, a guard could be seen taking the perpetrator by the neck. The villain turned out to be Günter Parche, a 38-year-old German whose extreme fanaticism for Steffi Graf would be confirmed later. Seles only managed to save herself from death with a reflex action of leaning her body forwards.

A few seconds later, Seles stood up and started walking towards the court, however, she then collapsed onto the people who were helping her. Seles recalled years after the incident: “I moved my legs when changing sides because I felt cold and all of a sudden that cold entered my back”.

The whole world witnessed the event that changed the world of tennis forever. Seles had been at the forefront of the WTA world rankings for 178 weeks and, at only 17 years old, had knocked Graf from the top on March 11 1991 – a title that she had held since August 17 1987 (186 weeks). Parche had become obsessed with the German tennis player regaining her title and the attack on Seles was his way of stopping her from the win.

Following the attack, Parche was imprisoned for six months and after the final sentence was given two years on probation. However, the attack would ruin Seles’s career and her life. Decades later, she admitted to falling into depression and said: “Parche acknowledged having stabbed me and will return to his normal life while I still recover from an assault that could have killed me”.

Her talent, however, was undeniable. She returned to the court in August 1995, more than ten kilos overweight because of eating problems brought on by the attack. She won her first official tournament in Montreal, Canada, and other victories included matches against the French Nathalie Tauziat (12th), the German Anke Huber (7th) and Gabriela Sabatini (6th).

That same year she returned to perform at the US Open and lost to Graf in the final.

Written by

Laura Kemp

Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at