Monica Seles opens up about binge eating disorder, '93 stabbing and more

May 30, 2016, 08:18 IST | A Correspondent

Former tennis star delighted at getting a platform, "to talk about binge eating disorder and really help people out there"

Paris: What better time for tennis great Monica Seles to think about Paris than now when the French Open is in top gear at Roland Garros?

Monica Seles
Monica Seles

It was here in 1990 that Seles won the first of her nine Grand Slams. And Garry Moore's opening words in Parisienne Walkways, 'I remember Paris' is probably not lost on the Yugoslavia-born Seles.

"I mean, just being in Paris, winning the title, I was like, 'Oh my gosh.' I didn't realise how much my life would change," Seles told recently. As expected, the media didn't miss out on a chance to focus on her following the triumph. "A month later, if I cut my hair, that would make news," she said.

Daddy's girl
It was in Paris that Seles made her last appearance in a Grand Slam final — in 1998 a few days after her father and coach Karoly passed away. "I was very close to my dad, not only was he my coach, but really my best friend," Seles said.

Incidentally, she ended her international career here in 2003. How can anyone think about Seles and not remember her 1993 stabbing, done by a deranged fan in Hamburg? But she has succeeded in putting her crushing past behind and focus on helping others. And she has done it through her book Getting a Grip: On My Life, My Body, My Self.

"It's very hard to talk about your own struggles, but then I thought, 'Boy, I can help a lot of adults out there so they don't feel alone'," Seles said. She has also teamed up with pharmaceutical giant Shire for the Mental Health Month.

"I was very lucky that I liked my sport because I wasn't pushed by my parents or anything like that, and now it has given me a platform to talk about binge eating disorder and really help people out there who might be suffering from it," Seles adds.

About the attack, she said: "I try to live in positiveness, so obviously for me, I try not to revisit one of the toughest moments in my life." Seles stayed away from tennis for two years after the stabbing during which she endured an eating disorder.

"I needed to move onto other journeys, other passions." Post 1993, her only Grand Slam win was the 1996 Australian Open.

"It was a wonderful journey - I love the game of tennis - but I needed a break from it. It was just the polar opposite of anything I've ever done," said Seles, who later participated in Dancing With the Stars, a dance competition on which a celebrity is paired with a professional dancer. "It was a great experience. I realized that I had zero rhythm and all that stuff, but it was still a lot of fun," she said.

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