Tennis: Seles withdraws from Wimbledon: The women's No 1 delays return as Agassi pulls out of the French Open

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The Independent Online
MONICA SELES withdrew from the Wimbledon championships yesterday, and Andre Agassi may have difficulty defending his All England Club title after injury caused him to join Seles as a non-starter for the French Open, which begins on Monday.

Seles continues to be treated at a clinic in Colorado after being stabbed while playing in Hamburg less than three weeks ago. Confirmation that the women's world No 1 would miss the next two Grand Slam championships came from her agents, International Management Group. It is not certain when Seles will be fit - physically and mentally - to resume her extraordinary career.

Agassi, a finalist on the red clay of Paris in 1990 and 1991, has tendinitis of the right wrist. The injury caused him to withdraw from last week's Italian Open in Rome. He has played little competitive tennis of late and has a month to recover for Wimbledon, which starts on 21 June.

The knife attack on Seles damaged the muscles that rotate her left shoulder. Though she hits the ball two-handed on both sides, she serves left-handed. 'I haven't put a timetable on anything,' Seles said a few days after her treatment started at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic.

Chris Gorringe, the All England Club's chief executive, said: 'We completely understand why Monica feels she is unable to play in the championships. Clearly a player of her calibre will be missed, and we are extremely sad that she will not be able to join us, especially as it is the 100th ladies' championships this year.'

The 19-year-old from the former Yugoslavia has won eight Grand Slam singles titles, starting with her success at the French Open in 1990, and six of the last seven. She has yet to win Wimbledon.

When the stabbing incident occurred, Seles was shaping her game for the defence of the title in Paris, having missed several tournaments due to a viral infection. She hoped to win a fourth consecutive French championship, a feat last achieved by Suzanne Lenglen in the 1920s.

Seles defeated Steffi Graf 10-8 in the third set of a magnificent French Open final last year, but on returning to Wimbledon after the missing the tournament in 1991 she had no answer to the German's form in the final, losing 6-2, 6-1. For once, the only sounds from Seles were when her racket made contact with the ball, mostly dispairingly.

An anti-grunting campaign, started by the media, led to protests to umpires by two of Seles's opponents, first Nathalie Tauziat, of France, then Martina Navratilova, the nine-times champion.

Graf replaces Seles as the top seed in Paris, and the withdrawal of Agassi, who was seeded eight, promotes MaliVai Washington to No 16.

(Photograph omitted)

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