1993 stabbing attack
Monica Seles was the top-ranked women's player heading into 1993, having won the French Open for three consecutive years and both the US Open and Australian Open in consecutive years. In January 1993, Seles defeated Graf in the final of the Australian Open, which to date was her third win in four Grand Slam finals against Graf. She then won the Virginia Slims of Chicago over Martina Navratilova in three sets. This was the last title that Seles won before the attack in Hamburg, Germany.
On April 30 during a quarterfinal match with Magdalena Maleeva in Hamburg in which Seles was leading, Günter Parche, an obsessed fan of Steffi Graf, ran from the middle of the crowd to the edge of the court during a break between games and stabbed Seles with a boning knife between her shoulder blades, to a depth of 1.5 inches. She was quickly taken to a hospital. Although her physical injuries took only a few weeks to heal, she did not return to competitive tennis for more than two years. Initially, there was speculation that the attack might have been politically motivated because Seles was from Yugoslavia. She was known to have received death threats in relation to the Yugoslav Wars. However, German authorities were quick to rule this out, describing her attacker as confused and possibly mentally disturbed. According to police, Parche intended to injure Seles so that she would be unable to compete and Graf would become the No. 1 player again.
Parche was charged following the incident, but spent less than 6 months in pre-trial detention. In his trial, he was found to be psychologically abnormal, and was sentenced to two years' probation and psychological treatment. The incident prompted a significant increase in the level of security at tour events. At that year's Wimbledon, the players' seats were positioned with their backs to the umpire's chair, rather than the spectators. Seles, however, disputed the effectiveness of these measures. She was quoted in 2011 as saying "From the time I was stabbed, I think the security hasn't changed". Seles vowed never to play tennis in Germany again, disenchanted by the German legal system. "What people seem to be forgetting is that this man stabbed me intentionally and he did not serve any sort of punishment for it ... I would not feel comfortable going back. I don't foresee that happening." In a later article, Tennis.com reported that Parche was living in nursing homes due to additional health problems.
Graf visited Seles while she was hospitalized. Young Elders, a band from Melbourne, Australia, sent their song called "Fly Monica Fly" to Seles while she was recuperating from the stabbing incident. She later said that the song provided inspiration to her at that time, and subsequently met the band (who later changed their name to the Monicas) following her victory at the Australian Open in 1996. The stabbing incident is the subject of Dan Bern's 1998 tribute to Seles, "Monica". Additionally, American band Majesty Crush paid tribute with "Seles" from the 1993 album Love-15.
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