Originally created 01/08/98

Monica Seles pulls out of Australian Open



CLEVELAND (AP) -- Monica Seles, a four-time winner of the Australian Open, withdrew from the season's first Grand Slam event Wednesday because of "personal reasons."

The Open begins Jan. 19 in Melbourne, Australia.

Seles, who has struggled with injuries since returning to the tour in July 1995, also said she would pass up the warm-up tournament in Sydney, Australia, beginning next Monday. The decision was announced by IMG, the Cleveland-based agency that represents her.

While no other reason was given for Seles' move, her game in the last year has been affected by the declining health of her father, Karolj, who suffers from stomach cancer. He also is her coach.

In October, Karolj Seles became an American citizen after asking immigration officials to speed up his processing because of his health. Seles' wife and daughter became citizens a few years ago.

At the time he administered the oath to the elder Seles, U.S. Magistrate Thomas G. Wilson called Seles' action "a very strong statement" to Americans everywhere and noted that few people faced with a serious illness would be thinking about their citizenship.