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Steppin' Out
Curry Kirkpatrick
May 27, 1991
IN HER THIRD SEASON AS A PRO, 17-YEAR-OLD MONICA SELES HAS FASHIONED HERSELF INTO A CROSS BETWEEN SUZANNE LENGLEN AND MADONNA
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May 27, 1991

Steppin' Out

IN HER THIRD SEASON AS A PRO, 17-YEAR-OLD MONICA SELES HAS FASHIONED HERSELF INTO A CROSS BETWEEN SUZANNE LENGLEN AND MADONNA

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Seles eats and writes with both her left and right hands. She juggles with some proficiency. She loves to dress up in veils. ("I know it's morbid and sick," she says with a laugh. "That's a big problem with me.") And in hats. A particular favorite is a black and red brimless number topped with a clock, which she first saw on a woman at Ascot in England. "The clock doesn't tell time, but it's great fun," she says.

As much as Seles adores Madonna, she balked when a European magazine wanted to run some photographs of her playfully vamping in outfits created by Madonna's pet designer, Jean-Paul Gaultier. "Too naughty," says Seles.

Her favorite athletes are Katarina Witt and Mike Tyson. Her favorite music is rap. She loves to watch Grace Kelly in The Country Girl and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Go figure. Seles hates the norm so much, even her dog's name bores her. "I've met at least four other Astros in the last year," she says. Seles swears that her next canine will have a properly esoteric moniker.

Seles is her father's daughter through and through. She has Karolj's blue-green eyes, his crooked nose and, most of all, his creativity and joyous, cork-popping personality. Many people on the tour remember Karolj feeling no pain at the Slims Championships dinner in New York last November, dancing onto the stage and "gatoring" by himself.

Karolj's cartoons and films have won several international awards. While standing on a gravel path in Rome last week, he discussed a cartoon he drew in 1980, recreating it with his toe by outlining the five Olympic rings and then turning them into the barrels of a tank, signifying the U.S.S.R.'s occupation of Afghanistan. "Russia like, no. This one get trouble, me," he said with a laugh in his peculiar dialect that NBC's Bud Collins calls "Karoljspeak."

In describing his contribution to his daughter's development as a player, Karolj has compared himself with Michelangelo. No shrinking violet, Papa Seles either, huh? "He [Michelangelo] didn't just carve a nice figure in stone," Karolj says. "He brought out the spirit of the figure."

Karolj's ego and his desire to coach Monica by himself supposedly forced her departure from the Bollettieri Academy last spring, causing bitterness on both sides, especially when Monica suggested that Bollettieri had done nothing during her practice sessions except work on his spectacular tan. True to her desire to maintain "control of her life," Monica insists that the decision to leave Bollettieri was hers alone and that his sole contribution was to "help me with things off the court." Frankly, her position seems unfeeling in light of the fact that Bollettieri provided tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands of dollars worth of room and board and other essentials for the Seles family after they arrived from Yugoslavia.

"I am still hurt and bewildered," Bollettieri said recently in Monte Carlo, interrupting his ritualistic sunbath. "It has been very hard to see through all this."

The Seles situation, not the sunspots.

"I know what happened and so does he," says Monica of Bollettieri. "I don't want enemies, but after a while people can stare right through an image. Whoever spent money on me got paid back. It was all business. The Bollettieri Academy got plenty of attention from me being there. If Nick was good for me, I was good for him, too."

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