What did it say about the top echelon of women's tennis that Monica Seles was able to win her first tournament in more than two years without losing more than a handful of games? While Seles roared through the draw of the Canadian Open, her first WTA tour appearance since she was stabbed by a fanatic 28 months ago, her opponents watched her withstand wilting 100� heat and painful tendinitis in her left knee while they dropped out quicker than Shannon Faulkner.
Oh, there were reasons: Steffi Graf was racked by worry over her father, Peter, jailed in Germany on tax-evasion charges, and lost in the first round; Arantxa S�nchez Vicario was suffering from a head cold and was gone in the third round; Mary Pierce was having trouble with her contact lenses as well as a queasy stomach and lost in the quarterfinals. But what did it say about the best players in women's tennis that after her layoff, Seles dropped only 14 games on her way to a title? "I'm not so surprised by Monica," said Jana Novotna, who was upset by Amanda Coetzer in the semis. "I'm surprised the other players didn't put up more of a fight."
Seles put up enough fight for all of them, showing her old raptorlike ferocity. Teeth bared and elbows swinging, she defeated three Top 20 players—No. 19 Nathalie Tauziat (6-2, 6-2), No. 10 Anke Huber (6-3, 6-2) and No. 8 Gabriela Sabatini (6-1, 6-0)—in succession en route to the final. There she destroyed No. 21 Coetzer, 6-0, 6-1, in a match that was more ceremony than tennis and was over in 51 minutes. That was only slightly longer than the actual ceremony that came afterward, at which Seles burst into tears when she received a prolonged salute from the full house. For months after the stabbing Seles had wondered( if she could ever face a crowd again. "It's just been so hard, so many emotions," she said. "From that day to this day, what a difference."
Will there be a difference from this day in Toronto to another day next month in New York? Or will the rest of women's tennis watch helplessly again as Seles holds aloft a trophy—this time a much larger one—at the U.S. Open?