Monica Seles will share the No. 1 ranking with Steffi Graf when she returns to tournament tennis next month, 2 1/2 years after being stabbed in the back during a match in Germany.
The Women’s Tennis Assn. is expected to announce the decision to restore Seles’ ranking later this week. “I’m happy about it, of course,” Seles said Wednesday. “But I was going to play either way.”
Seles and Graf will jointly be ranked No. 1 for the first six tournaments Seles plays.
“The players had no problem with that,” said Martina Navratilova, president of the WTA.
The problem, Navratilova said, was how Seles would be ranked after the first six events. One proposal was to calculate her standing based on the number of tournaments played rather than the regular minimum of 12 within a 52-week period.
But Graf said that would give Seles an unfair advantage. Graf was concerned that her own chronically aching back might not allow her to play 12 tournaments and, in fact, Graf withdrew Wednesday from the July 29-Aug. 6 Toshiba Tennis Classic in Carlsbad because of her back.
Promoters said the withdrawal of the six-time Wimbledon champion had nothing to do with a tax investigation in Germany against Graf and her father-manager, Peter. Graf also has withdrawn from the Fed Cup, a week before the Carlsbad event.
Navratilova seemed happy with the Seles settlement.
“The only fair way for her to come back is No. 1 because that’s how she left,” she said.