Monica Seles Reveals Struggle With Binge Eating Disorder

By May Wilkerson 02/04/15

The former Grand Slam champion revealed her struggles with binge eating in a new public service announcement.

Monica Seles

Yugoslav former tennis champion Monica Seles struggled privately with binge eating disorder throughout the height of her success on the courts, she recently revealed.

Seles, who won nine Grand Slam competitions and 53 singles titles before her 2008 retirement, says her eating disorder was “just uncontrollable.” She has released a new public service announcement in conjunction with the Binge Eating Disorder Association and National Eating Disorders Association, as part of her mission to educate people about the disorder and inspire others to talk about it and seek help.

"It took a while until I felt comfortable talking about it," she told People magazine. "That's one of the reasons I decided to do this campaign: to raise awareness that binge eating is a real medical condition."

The 41-year-old athlete says her binge eating began as a coping mechanism in response to various traumas, including the pressures of her tennis career, her dad's battle with prostate cancer, and her recovery from being stabbed on the court by a crazed spectator in 1993.

Her weight fluctuated as a result of her binges on junk foods, like “potato chips, pretzels and cookies–bags of them," she says. "It's really eating huge quantities of food in a very short period of time."

Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder among U.S. adults, affecting more people than anorexia and bulimia. But stigma and lack of information can make it difficult for sufferers to receive diagnosis and treatment.

"It was very hard to understand how on the tennis court, I would be so focused and so disciplined in my training, but when it came to binge eating I had zero control," says Seales. "I felt really embarrassed about it."

The tennis champ describes her diagnosis as “a big relief” and says today, she is in recovery and “learning to manage” the disorder. "Now I feel comfortable eating in a social situation and I don't feel the urge to go back to my house or hotel and binge eat.”

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.