I cannot tell you how many thousands of hours I have spent hitting a tennis ball against a wall. Recently, I moved to Harlem in Manhattan and have discovered that there are hand ball walls just two blocks away from my new place. My afternoons? Now often spent hitting the ball against the wall, with curious walkers by baffled that I’m not playing hand or racquet ball.
Much of this fascination is due to the fact that when I was just 12 I read Monica Seles‘ From Fear to Victory, the book that chronicled her life into tennis — including her love of hitting the tennis ball against a wall in a parking lot below her family’s apartment.
This last Monday I got the chance to talk to Monday for the third time in my short, young career as a journalist. I was visiting HSBC‘s “Wimbledon at Rockefeller Plaza,” a week-long event that the Wimbledon-partnered bank has put on for several year that allows Manhattan to boast a grass court in the city — even just for one week.
It was here that I (full disclosure: I was on a media pass both for TennisWire.org and TSF) got to talk to both Monica Seles and Jim Courier. For more on the HSBC event and it’s details, see the Courier post here (or scroll up).
TSF: Monica, what about social media? Why aren’t you tweeting up a storm?
Monica Seles: I don’t think anybody would care what Monica Seles is eating or what she’s doing.
TSF: [Laughing.] Monica, are you kidding?! I think you’d be surprised.
MS: I’m an old dinosaur. [Twitter] is more all of these reality show stars that everyone watches. This is how this generation that has shifted. We didn’t have reality TV when I was growing up and now they’re the biggest stars. I really enjoy [my time away from the computer] because I’m on it a lot for work, but you kind of have to. My 10-year-old godson is tutoring me on the computer of how to navigate everything.
TSF: But you did Dancing With the Stars, so you’re sort of a reality star. What about trying Skating With the Stars?
MS: I couldn’t even [dance on] dry land! [Laughing.]
TSF: But you skated as a kid, right?
MS: Yeah, I skated for about a year and a half. That’s what I wanted to be. I loved it. I loved the costumes and all the glamor stuff. But I haven’t been on ice skates since I was 8 years old. I think being on Dancing With the Stars was enough. [The show] was more about art and how you look and how you present yourself. In tennis I didn’t have to worry about where the camera was or what angle to smile at. I loved [Dancing] because it was so out of my comfort zone.
TSF: What about favorite figure skaters. Do you have any?
MS: I always liked Kristi Yamaguchi in skating and she was on Dancing with me. And I always liked Nancy Kerrigan, too.
TSF: So you didn’t get to design figure skating costumes, but you still love fashion. Do you ever see yourself diving into it like Venus Williams or Maria Sharapova have?
MS: [Fashion] is something I enjoy looking at, but I don’t know. Tennis is really hard because all of the big companies have kind of taken over. I love it when you see the girls come out [for the players’ parties] and you want to see what everyone is wearing. Now, it’s going to be more and more daring. At Wimbledon all the girls got all dressed up and it allows the fans to see the girls in a different light — I like that.
TSF: Did you see Bethanie Mattek-Sands’ dress?
MS: [Laughing.] No… but I heard about it. I saw Maria’s and Ana Ivanovic‘s. Ana was very classy.
TSF: What is one thing that you must do when you’re in New York in the summer?
MS: I love Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. It’s really nice to just sit and be outside — I love being outside. You can sit there on a nice day and just have your friends eat with you — that’s my favorite.
TSF: Do you ever think there’s going to be a young star again? WTA success seems to be coming at an older age these days.
MS: Oh yeah. The tour has their age regulations, but there are always going to be young girls coming up who are powerful. Martina was powerful. And then Stefani. And then me. Then the Williams sisters came along. I think the sport always evolves. Maybe age mentally — how you manage success and fame and money — but otherwise, I think we’ll always have young players coming up.