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Organizers Received Call Threatening Seles

January 30, 1996

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) _ Australian Open tennis officials received an anonymous phone call threatening the life of Monica Seles the night before she played in the women’s final, a Melbourne newspaper reported Tuesday.

Seles and her family were not told of the call, the Herald Sun newspaper reported.

The death threat, made by telephone to the Tennis Australia offices, was kept from Seles so she could concentrate on her tennis, but security around her was boosted, the newspaper said.

Seles was stabbed in the back by a spectator during a tournament in Hamburg, Germany, in 1993 and spent 28 months out of the sport. She returned to action late last year, winning the Canadian Open in Montreal and losing to Steffi Graf in the final of the U.S. Open.

Seles defeated Anke Huber of Germany in Saturday’s women’s singles final of the tournament and has now won the Australian Open title all four times she has played the year’s first Grand Slam tournament. She never has lost a match in Australia.

The newspaper said police investigated the call and assigned a uniformed officer to each entrance door of the main stadium for the women’s final.

``Secrecy was crucial because of the possible ramifications had Seles become aware of the threat,″ tournament director Paul McNamee told the Herald Sun.

McNamee said all security at the tournament was ``low key″ because organizers want the players to feel secure.

At the post-match press conference following her straight sets victory over Huber, Seles burst into tears when she was asked by a German reporter whether she would be prepared to play again in Germany.

Seles left Melbourne on Sunday for Tokyo to play the next major tennis tournament on the tour, the Toray Pan Pacific Open.

Tennis Australia referred media enquiries about the incident to the Melbourne office of the International Management Group (IMG), which manages Seles.

IMG’s Australian director of tennis, Brian Cooney, said he had no immediate comment.

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