“Getting a Grip”: a Review of Monica Seles' Autobiography

Tribal TechContributor IIIFebruary 24, 2010

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 15:  Tennis player Monica Seles arrives on the Playtex Sport Pink Carpet at the Women's Sports Foundation's 28th Annual Salute to Women in Sports at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on October 15, 2007 in New York City.  (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for WSF)
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

I’m a big fan of Monica Seles – not just as a tennis player, but as person.  I read her first autobiography published 1997 called “From Fear to Victory” a few years ago.  When I heard Monica had a new book out last year, I knew I had to get a copy. 

What intrigued me was the title of the book – it’s called “Getting a Grip”.  When I was younger, I had a manager who often said “get a grip!” It’s a phrase that I often use now and enjoy using in different situations from humour to serious.

I’ve read quite a few tennis player autobiographies over the last few years, including Boris Becker, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras and Pat Cash.  I would say that Monica’s Tennis autobiography is an autobiography with a difference. 

Monica’s book is rather more complex, because it just doesn’t cover the usual theme of taking up tennis at a very young age, being spotted as having a talent, being focused, leaving school early and having a great career and experiences around that.

It not only revolves around her tennis career, but also things like being stabbed on the court by the deranged Steffi Graf fan when she was just 19-years old, losing her father to cancer and her battle with her body and weight gain issues. 

It’s fascinating to read about an athlete who had binge eating issue, even though she was considered to be one of the best tennis players in history. Binge eating is an issue that so many people experience around the world on a daily basis.  I think that gives Monica a connection to everyday people that is somewhat refreshing to hear. 

Monica’s issues with over-eating were in direct relation to the trauma of being stabbed and her father’s cancer and then trying to rebuild her career. The story was told in a very matter of fact way, reflecting Monica’s maturity. 

Her first book from 1997 was more about the present. However, in this one Monica looked back on everything with a different perspective and wrote about what she has learned from all of her life experiences and how it may be able to help others in their journey.

Not only is her story told in a matter of fact way, its also told with tremendous verve and spirit. What comes across to me is that Monica has a great sense of humour and is very witty. I get a sense that she doesn't appear to be wrapped up in her own self-importance, something I’ve detected in other player autobiographies over the years. 

For instance, I love the way Monica describes how her trainers took great pains to check up on what she ate and how Monica hid her binge eating sessions, like someone being naughty! I also enjoyed reading about her time on “Dancing with the Stars”, which wasn’t her most successful endeavour either!  But as we say in England, taking part is more important.

I also enjoyed how Monica describes some of the matches against her rivals like Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati and Venus Williams among other players. Monica doesn’t really have a bad word to say about any of her rivals, which was refreshing to read.  In fact, out of the other names I’ve mentioned earlier, Sampras' autobiography is the only other book I’ve read that doesn’t lay into rivals for the hell of it. 

It's also interesting to read about the many interesting projects Monica has become involved in, such as Laureus Foundation and other community-based projects that make a difference to other people's lives.

So, the memo here is Monica’s autobiography not only appeals to fans of Monica Seles from a tennis point of view, but also to countless others who have their own struggles with binge eating and self-worth. I am sure many out there can identify with that and be inspired to read about how Monica has overcome her own personal demons. 

Having thoroughly enjoyed her book, I can safely recommend it as a damn good read. With out question, I have to say that I am a fan of Monica Seles more than ever and a committed fan of someone who was not only a great player, but also a fantastic human being.  Well done, Monica.


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