30 years ago today, the arc of tennis history changed dramatically when a Steffi Graf fan, distraught by a sickening act, fell and stabbed Monica Seles with a bone knife.
Seles was playing against Magdalena Maleva in the Citizens Cup in Hamburg when the horrific incident took place.
The incident was partially televised live and bloodcurdling screams erupted to an unsuspecting public.
Attacker Guenter Parche told police: «She wanted to hurt Seles badly because she couldn’t play tennis for a long time.
She would spend more than two years out of the game and although she returned, she later suffered from depression and the game was never the same for her.
Scoreboard host Christoph Wehr told Germany’s Welt this weekend that the attack was «like a horror movie».
Wehrle said on the 30 April 1993 telecast that it was his scream.
He couldn’t warn her, but Weir’s startled scream made Celes push forward slightly to look at me. [Werle]. That would have been a lifesaver, as Parche couldn’t stab deeper.
Verle was horrified to see a blood covered knife lying on the ground.
“I saw a knife lying there. I thought, well, if this is deep, it doesn’t look good,» Werle added.
Shockingly, Parche was given a suspended sentence despite telling the police that he had treated Cells with great malice.
«I couldn’t bear the thought of anybody hitting Stephen,» Parche told police.
Sels felt the light punishment was just another wound and vowed never to play in Germany again.
«He stabbed me on purpose and he wasn’t even punished for it. I never got over that,» Sales said in the years after Parche’s conviction.
«I don’t understand why this man didn’t need to atone for his crimes.»
When Seles retired from the game, Graf was without a major rival, and it was widely reported that the move would change the face of the women’s game.
Martina Navratilova, the great player who crossed both paths, is among those who believe the incident changed tennis.
«This guy changed the history of tennis, I have no doubt about that. Monica would have won a lot,» she said.
Graff visited Sells in the hospital and has since felt an overwhelming sense of guilt over what happened to her fan.
Physiotherapist Madeleine Van Zolen told Welt: «Steffy and Monica talked a bit, they both cried. Steffy didn’t know what to say, neither did Monica, but sometimes you don’t have to say much.