"I like to stay where I can just be with my family and not worry about other people, about autographs and things," she said. "Tennis is just a role. A doctor or a lawyer wouldn't let you watch him work, so why should I let people watch me practice?"
It's small comfort to Seles that the tournament security Parche eluded was regarded as better than average by WTA officials. The 10,300-seat stadium is intimate, with only a waist-high railing separating the players from a narrow aisle running along the front of the grandstand. Tournament director Günter Sanders and police officials described security measures that included a guard from a German firm, Bekos, posted in the grandstand just behind each player.
The attack on Seles took place during a lull in the action. The Seles-Maleeva match was the last quarterfinal of the day, it was nearing 7 p.m., and most spectators had simply looked away from the players during the changeover. Seles had won the first set 6-4 and was leading 4-3 in the second after overcoming a 0-3 deficit. The guards later told police they had been occupied with keeping autograph seekers and children away from the players. One guard said he saw Parche approach, but few people actually saw him strike.
Parche, a stocky, balding man wearing a plaid shirt and jeans and carrying a green plastic bag, sidled down the aisle and paused behind Seles. Suddenly he raised the knife, grasping it with both hands. A spectator screamed, which seemed to alert Seles, who twisted and leaned slightly forward in her chair. The knife struck her back at an angle.
Seles shrieked and leaped from her chair, and then stood with a hand clasped to her neck, an expression of abject confusion on her face. Attempting to aid Seles, an unidentified man leaped over the barricade and onto the court and grabbed her by the shoulders. Seles, beginning to sob, collapsed against him, and he lowered her to the ground, where she was quickly surrounded by frantic officials, including chair umpire Stefan Voss, WTA tour director Lisa Grattan and trainer Madeleine Van Zoelen, and Seles's brother, Zoltan. In the meantime two guards subdued Parche and dragged him from the stadium in a headlock and half nelson, breaking his left arm in the process. The knife lay on the court next to Seles's chair, with blood visible on the blade.
Those nearest to Seles initially had no idea what had happened. The 10th-ranked Maleeva was oblivious to the approach of Parche until she heard Seles scream. Maleeva wandered to a corner of the court, dazed, and stayed there during the long Minutes it took for a stretcher to arrive. "I feel guilty I didn't go to her," Maleeva said, "but I was so shocked I didn't know what to do."
Grattan saw Parche approach Seles. At first she thought he had tried to choke her, and then she saw Seles grab at her back. Grattan reached Seles as she sank to the ground. Grattan saw her "bleeding profusely," as she later described it, and attempted to stanch the blood with a towel. "Am I hurt? Am I bleeding?" Seles asked Grattan. "You have a small cut," Grattan calmly replied.
A moment later Van Zoelen arrived with her medical kit, and a panicked Zoltan Seles also arrived on the court. He was the only member of Monica's family to attend the match; her mother, Esther, was not feeling well, and her father, Karolj, had stayed at the hotel to care for her. Zoltan took Monica's hand, shook her legs and said, "Keep moving, keep moving."
Monica felt faint but was not disoriented, according to Grattan and Van Zoelen. She became silent once Zoltan arrived. "She was stunned," Van Zoelen said. "She was like the rest of us, saying things like, 'It's impossible. How can this be?' " Finally Seles was put on a stretcher and, sitting upright, was wheeled out of the stadium, sobbing.
At week's end WTA officials had decided that Seles's withdrawal would not cost her computer-ranking points, which means the No. 1 spot will remain firmly in her grasp. But will Seles, who on Sunday night flew to Vail, Colo., and checked into the Steadman Hawkins Clinic for treatment, be motivated to play again? "That's a good question," said Grattan. "I would imagine the physical wound, will be the shorter recovery period."