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Final Goodbye

The former top tennis player, Monica Seles, hangs up her racket after a glorious career winning 9 Grand Slam singles titles and 53 tournaments.

sports Updated: Feb 15, 2008 22:59 IST

Former world number one Monica Seles announced her official retirement from professional tennis at the age of 34 on Thursday, nearly five years since she last played.

Seles won nine grand slam singles titles and 53 tournaments in her career. She had not played competitively since the 2003 French Open but, plagued by a succession of foot injuries, had tried to launch several comebacks.

"I have for some time considered a return to professional play, but I have now decided not to pursue that," Seles said in a statement released by her manager and published on the WTA tour Web site (http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com).

The native Yugoslav won her first grand slam at the 1990 French Open and became world number one in 1991, staying top of the rankings until April 1993 when she was stabbed during a match in Hamburg, Germany.

She did not play again for more than two years but she made a swift impact on her return, winning the Canadian Open and Australian Open as well as reaching the US Open final.

Seles, who became a US citizen in 1994, played her final match at the 2003 French Open where she suffered a first-round loss to Nadia Petrova.

She had struggled with foot injuries for years but chose not to undergo surgery, hoping the stress fractures would heal naturally.

In 2004 she competed in World Team Tennis but lost heavily to players she would have beaten easily in her prime.

Larry Scott, CEO of the WTA Tour, paid tribute to Seles.

"Monica Seles is one of the great champions in the history of the WTA Tour, and an inspiration and role model for millions of fans throughout the world."

"No one will ever forget the fierce determination and will to win that Monica brought to the court, nor the caring and warm person that she has always been off the court," he said in a statement.

Seles claimed a major haul of four Australian, three French and two US Open titles.

(Reporting by Simon Evans and Larry Fine; Editing by Ed Osmond)