Painful Past Stalks Seles, Mars Win

MELBOURNE, Australia -- In tears and panic, Monica Seles fled the Australian Open, leaving her championship trophy behind and revealing how deeply she still hurts from the stabbing in Germany three years ago.


It was a moment that should have been so sweet to savor, a 6-4, 6-1 victory Saturday over Anke Huber for Seles' first major title since her return to tennis.


Instead, her ninth Grand Slam win was spoiled by questions that brought back the memories of her attack at the hands of a deranged Steffi Graf fan.


Graf, her toughest opponent and co-No. 1, missed the Open with an injury.


At the end of the final Seles had spoken emotionally to the crowd about how much this victory meant to her, how much she had missed playing.


She showed her strength in the match, outslugging Germany's Huber from the baseline, but few realized how fragile she really was until the post-match news conference.


"Monica, would that complete your recovery to go back to Germany, do you think?" she was asked in a series of questions about the incident and the country it took place in.


"I don't know," she started. "I mean, whatever happened there has not been fair. I don't want to think about that."


She began to cry, lowering her head and pleading softly to photographers, "Don't take pictures of this." She paused a moment, trying to answer a further question, unable to go on.


Then, apologizing to the media, she left the room, her face white with panic, and fled the stadium with her parents.