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Original Issue


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-degree 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 Sanchez 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?

COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN Seles hardly had to stretch as she ran through the field at the du Maurier Ltd. Canadian Open. [Monica Seles]