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Seles to Try Pro League

June 24, 2004|Lauren Peterson | Times Staff Writer

Monica Seles has thought about retiring from tennis.

But first, she wants to return to it.

She will give it a go when she plays World TeamTennis with the New York Sportimes as they face the Delaware Smash, the WTT Pro League's defending champion, in Wilmington, Del., on July 8.

"I'm just going to be thrilled to get back on the court," she said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

Seles, winner of nine Grand Slam tournament titles, has been plagued by a stress fracture in her left foot for more than a year and hasn't played a match since losing to Nadia Petrova, 6-4, 6-0, in the first round of the 2003 French Open.

"It's been a frustrating time for me because I want to be out there on the court," she said. "I'm practicing pretty hard. I've been doing everything. I just can't go as long as I used to go."

Seles, 30, considers the WTT's three-week season to be a rehabilitation assignment -- a baby step on the road back to women's tour events but better than the hobbling ones she was reduced to for much of last season, when she played in only seven WTA tournaments.

"It will be a chance for me to go out there and see how my foot holds up. I'm excited to see how it goes," she said.

After surgery to repair a broken bone in her left foot in October, Seles spent the next 4 1/2 months in a cast, contemplating a career that has included the season-ending world No. 1 ranking in 1991, '92 and '95, a No. 4 ranking as recently as 2000, and more than $14 million in prize money.

The down time also forced Seles to consider her uncertain future.

She hopes to return to the tour in time to play at least one warmup before the U.S. Open, and then compete in the year's last Grand Slam event, scheduled for Aug. 30-Sept. 11.

"I would only want to play if I could play at the level that I want," Seles said. "If I'm not at the level I'd like to be, I would not want to be back."

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