TWENTY-FIVE years ago, one of the saddest and most shocking moments in sporting history occurred; this week marked the 25th anniversary of Monica Seles being stabbed while on court by a fan.

She was playing her quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open when a spectator came from the stands onto the court during the changeover and stabbed Seles between her shoulder blades.

At this point in her career, she was the star of the tennis scene.

At the time of the attack, Yugoslavian-born Seles was just 19-years-old, had become the sport’s youngest-ever French Open champion and had already amassed nine grand slam titles. She was world number one having usurped Steffi Graf and this was, ultimately, what triggered the attack on her in Hamburg.

In the years prior to the stabbing, Seles and Graf had engaged in some classic matches, including the final of the previous year’s French Open final and that year’s Australian Open final. Seles won both and the signs were that she was on track to rack up grand slam title after grand slam title.

But a deranged Graf fan named Gunther Parche decided that Seles was blocking Graf’s path to further major titles and so decided the best course of action was to remove the obstacle.

Physically, Seles recovered relatively quickly from the attack.

But the mental scars took far longer to heal - it was over two years before Seles returned to competition and in fact, she never fully recovered from the trauma of what happened.

Seles may have returned to tennis but she never regained the level she had reached as a teenager.

In the years after the stabbing, she added only one more grand slam title to her name, the 1996 Australian Open, although she did enough to re-enter the world’s top ten.

Seles continued battling on the tour until 2003, when she sustained a foot injury and although it was a number of years until she officially announced that she was hanging up her racket, her last-ever official match was at the 2003 French Open, where she lost in the first round.

It is, of course, impossible to know if Seles would indeed have gone on to accumulate considerably more grand slam titles had she not been stabbed but it seems unlikely that she would not have surpassed the ten with which she ultimately finished her career.

Twenty-five years on from that life-changing moment, Seles is not forgotten but her impact on the women’s game is perhaps underestimated.

When Seles came on the scene, tennis had never seen anything like her.

She left a number of legacies, some hugely positive, one not quite as helpful.

Seles was the first player to not merely grunt when she hit a shot, but shriek. With every stroke, she was in full voice and it seems likely that had Seles not been quite so liberal with her grunts, we may not have had to endure the ear-piercing noises that come from, amongst a raft of others, Maria Sharapova these days.

But the way Seles played tennis revolutionised the game. Her double-handed ground strokes were unique amongst her peers and few have tried to replicate her in that way since her retirement, with only 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli displaying a similar double-handed style.

But the way Seles played changed tennis forever. Despite her youth, she was the first real attacking baseliner that the women’s game had ever seen. Her style was a fascinating contrast to Graf’s serve and volley tactics that had served the German so well but with Seles able to take her opponent’s time away as a result of her attacking stance, as well as being able to hit the court repeatedly, few opponents were able to cope.

Serena Williams, as well as the raft of baseline sluggers that we now see dominate the rankings, were inspired, in their playing style at least, by Seles, yet this is often forgotten as a result of her story being dominated by the stabbing incident.

Williams is currently chasing Margaret Court for the all-time grand slam titles record but if Seles hadn’t been attacked, she could well have been right up there too.

Unfortunately, we’ll never know.