Witness recalls the shocking stabbing of Monica Seles 30 years on

Gunter Parche - Assault on Monica Seles

On this day 30 years ago, the arc of the story of tennis was dramatically altered by a sick act when an obsessed Steffi Graf fan lunged at and stabbed Monica Seles with a boning knife.

Seles was facing Magdalena Maleeva in Hamburg’s Citizen Cup when the horrific event took place.

The incident was partially televised live with a blood-curdling scream that went out to an unwitting public audience.

Her attacker Guenter Parche told Police wanted to “hurt Seles so much that she couldn’t play tennis for a long time.”

She would spend more than two years out of the game and though she returned she later suffered bouts of depression and the game wasn’t the same for her.

A scoreboard attendant at the tournament, Christoph Werle told Germany’s Welt this weekend that the attack was “like a horror movie.”

Werle said that it was his scream that could be heard on that television broadcast back on 30 April 1993.

He may not have been able to warn her but Werle’s shocked scream “made Seles move forward slightly to see me [Werle]. That was potentially life-saving, because Parche couldn’t stab as deeply.”

Werle feared the worst when he saw the knife lying on the ground covered in blood.

“I saw the knife laying there. I thought, shit, if this is deep, it doesn’t look good,” Werle added.

Shockingly, Parche was only handed a suspended sentence despite admitting to police that he attacked Seles with great malice.

“I couldn’t bear the thought that anyone could beat Steffi,” Parche told police.

Seles felt that the light sentence was like another wound and she vowed never to play in Germany again.

“He stabbed me on purpose and was not even punished for it. I never really got over that” Seles said in the years after Parche’s sentencing.

“I can’t understand why this person did not have to atone for his crime.”

It has been widely acknowledged that the incident change the picture of the women’s game with Graf lacking a big rival when Seles was pulled from the game.

A great player who crossed the path of both, Martina Navratilova is among those holding the belief that the incident changed tennis.

“This guy changed tennis history, I have no doubt about that. Monica would have won so much,” she said.

Graf visited Seles in the hospital and conceded since that she felt tremendous guilt over the incident involving a fan obsessed with her.

Physiotherapist Madeleine van Zoelen told Welt: “Steffi and Monica spoke little, both cried. Steffi didn’t know what to say, nor did Monica, but sometimes you don’t have to say much.”