No player, however, needs rest more than Steffi Graf, who was upset in New York by eighth-ranked Jana Novotna. At 22, Graf is struggling to come to terms with a fraying limb and sagging confidence. Her 1991 Wimbledon title notwithstanding, Graf could not take much pleasure from a year that included the loss of the No. 1 ranking to Seles after a record 186 straight weeks at the top, a torn shoulder tendon, nagging tendinitis in her arm and, most recently, a parting with her coach of five years, Pavel Slozil. "I need some new impulses in my tennis," she said after the Novotna match.
Seles, too, is contemplating some changes, like losing some of the 12 pounds she put on this year. She said she will improve her diet and start a new gym regimen. "Hopefully you'll see some muscle," she said. "Right now it's just fat." As for her on-court goals, Seles said her primary one will be "to win the one tournament [ Wimbledon] I haven't."
Seles also appears to be making some concessions in her public demeanor. Her 1991 accomplishments were tainted by her mysterious withdrawal from Wimbledon and the confusion that ensued when she would not explain the reason until more than a week after the tournament had ended. As it turned out, she had been suffering from shin splints and a stress fracture in her left leg. A Madonna fan and aspiring actress, Seles seemed to seek publicity and enjoy the desperately-seeking-Susan quality of the Wimbledon affair. Last week, however, she said, "I don't want to be Madonna; I don't want to be larger than life; I just want to be myself."
Seles acknowledged that she had learned a lot this year. She learned she could win a second Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, to go with last year's breakthrough at the French Open. And she learned she could successfully defend a title, as she did in Paris. The harder lesson came when public sentiment turned against her. "I learned when you are Number One, how much weight your words have," she said. "People misunderstood me. You learn that you can never be smart enough. And you can't just blurt words out."
Unless, like Navratilova, you know how and when to blurt them.