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Seles may return for U.S. Open

Monica Seles reportedly will announce Saturday plans to return to women's tennis in August.

Meanwhile, tour officials and players have yet to determine what to do about her ranking.

Seles is supposed to reveal her comeback plans at a news conference at the Special Olympics in New Haven, Conn., and is expected to play her first Grand Slam event in 2{ years at the U.S. Open.

U.S. Open officials, though, said Wednesday they had not received a request from Seles for a wild card into the two-week Grand Slam event that starts Aug. 28 in New York. Under tour rules, Seles would have until Aug. 25 to make that request. It's too early for main draw entry requests for the 128-player tourney, tour officials said.

A spokesperson for International Management Group, which represents Seles, said Wednesday Seles' return to the tour has not been confirmed and Seles might not discuss a comeback Saturday. "We don't know what she's going to say," the spokesperson said.

Before the Open, Seles will play a televised exhibition with Martina Navratilova in Atlantic City on July 29. It is uncertain whether she will play any tour events before then. She hadn't officially entered any as of Wednesday, according to the WTA TOUR.

Tour officials and players, who have been discussing the issue of Seles' ranking the past few months, hope to come up with an agreeable solution soon, but said talks have been sporadic because the top players have been preoccupied with Wimbledon matches.

Seles has been practicing daily, coached by her father, and her comeback does not hinge on any allowances the WTA TOUR makes for her ranking.

"Monica has never asked for special ranking consideration, and her decision on whether or not to return has nothing to do with that," said Linda Dozoretz, IMG's spokesperson for Seles. "She's not worried about her ranking.

"It would have been a very nice gesture to show that they really wanted her back and were willing to make allowances, but it's not something that will make a difference with her. I don't think she had any expectations of getting anything. She feels that if and when she comes back, she'll earn her own ranking."

Seles was stabbed in the back in Hamburg, Germany on April 30, 1993, by a deranged fan of Steffi Graf. Several rankings proposals for Seles have been put on the table in the event of her return, but none has been universally embraced.

The method for computing her ranking is the sticking point in the players' discussions, according to the WTA TOUR. Players now have their rankings points divided by a minimum of 12 tournaments played over 52 weeks, but some proposals would allow Seles' rankings points to be divided differently.

"The top 10 players are not fighting about her being No. 1. They all agree she was dominating the game when she left," one tour official said. "The issue is the divisor. How long do you go, six months, nine months, 12 months, before making her (rankings) points count?"

Navratilova, president of the WTA TOUR, originally proposed Seles be co-ranked No. 3 because Graf and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario have been going back and forth as No. 1 over the past year. But some players objected, saying Seles was No. 1 when she left and should come back No. 1.

Navratilova then proposed at a WTA meeting Sunday Seles be co-ranked No. 1 for her first six tournaments or 12 months, whichever came first, and for the next 18 months her ranking average be calculated differently. In essence, Seles' ranking would be based on the number of tournaments she played, rather than the regular minimum.

Graf, who has spoken publicly of her desire to see Seles return to the tour, objected to Navratilova's method of calculating Seles' ranking, according to a source close to the tour. Graf said with her own physical problems, particularly her chronic aching back, she doesn't know how many tournaments she might play. Graf was concerned Seles would have an unfair advantage in the rankings if she didn't have to play the minimum of 12.

In another meeting Tuesday night, attended by most of the top 20 players along with agents, coaches and WTA officials, the proposal was shot down.

_ Staff writer Darrell Fry contributed to this report.