Originally created 06/26/02

Seles makes short work of Wimbledon rookie



WIMBLEDON, England -- Silverware rattled as late lunchers nibbled in the Members' Enclosure high above Court 2. Before the main course arrived, Monica Seles had finished her first-round match.

The nine-time Grand Slam champion needed just 37 minutes to beat Spain's Eva Bes 6-0, 6-0 on one of the show courts at Wimbledon on Tuesday. Bes, making her Wimbledon debut, won just 15 points.

"I think she was having a hard time adjusting to grass," Seles said. "For my first match, I was happy to have an opponent like her."

Things got ugly for Bes late in the second set. When Seles broke at love in the fifth game, then won the first two points of the final game, the crowd let out a loud cheer for Bes after Seles' attempted backhand shot went wide.

Bes couldn't help but smile at the applause - and at her plight. Two points later, the match was over, Seles looking up and waving to two fans holding a "We Love You Monica" banner in the stands.

Seles said she has been struggling with a cold.

"I really didn't want to sweat too much," she said. "I haven't got to be as prepared as I want to be. But hopefully the matches will get tougher and tougher."

It is Seles' ninth appearance at Wimbledon, where her best finish was a loss in the final to Steffi Graf in 1992. Since being stabbed on court in 1993 and missing the next two years, she has won just one Grand Slam - the 1996 Australian Open - and is seeded fourth this year.

"That made me the person that I am," Seles said of the long layoff. "Certain things you cannot forget. That changed the course of my career.

"There's no need to go back there day in, day out. That's part of me and that will always stay there."

Seles said she still believes she can win another Grand Slam.

"I definitely wouldn't be out here if I didn't," she said. "But you can't let your mind get too far ahead."

In her way stand the Williams sisters. But Seles said she doesn't feel slighted by the all the attention they're getting.

"I went through that in the early '90s," she said. "It's tough pressure when you're on top, and it's tough pressure when you're struggling with your game as we've seen with a few players.

"Venus and Serena deserve that honor. They've played very well coming into Wimbledon, being in the finals of the French and Serena winning it. So they are definitely the players to beat at this tournament."

At 28, Seles said she doesn't feel in any rush to retire.

"My main goal is to make sure I'm still enjoying it," she said. "I really am at a stage in my career where truly I'm playing it because I want to, for no one else, (not) for money, or for whatever else reasons."

"But at the same time, I look forward to the time when I can come to Wimbledon without the pressure of playing a match and practicing. Just really enjoying it."



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