Winners: Helen Kelesi, Tennis

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Helen Kelesi returning

Helen Kelesi returning the ball.
Date: 1986-1994
Collection: Tennis Canada

1989 - Feature Story

They called her Hurricane Helen for good reason. Victoria-born Helen Kelesi brought ferocity to the court that had rarely been seen in women’s tennis. She pounded the ball with a force matched only by her ability to lambaste officials, opponents and, often, herself when things went awry in a match. Winning her first Canadian junior championship at age 13, Kelesi moved into the world’s upper echelon in attaining a career high world ranking of number 13. During this year, Kelesi attained a ranking of 38-18 singles record, which included reaching the final of the Spanish Open, losing to home favourite Aranxta Sanchez-Vicario; a semi-final loss to Steffi Graf in Berlin, a berth in the quarterfinals at the French Open and runner-up to Leila Meskhi at Virginia Slims of Nashville. Kelesi also won her third consecutive Canadian women’s singles title.

1990 - Feature Story

Kelesi remained Canada’s top women’s tennis player and athlete in 1990. She won her fourth Canadian title and advanced to the third round of the Australian Open. She reached the finals in Geneva, semi-finals in Rome, where she also teamed with Monica Seles to win the doubles final. Kelesi and Raffaella Reggi also reached the doubles final in the Canadian Open.

Career Highlights

  • 2008 Inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
  • 1989 Reached number 13 in the WTA Rankings 
  • 1988, 1989 French Open quarter-finalist
  • 1986-1993 Represented Canada in Federation Cup play
  • 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990 Tennis Canada Singles Player of the Year 
  • 1989, 1990Bobbie Rosenfeld Award (Canada’s female athlete of the year)
Helen Kelesi action shots

Helen Kelesi playing tennis.
Date: 1986-1994
Collection: Tennis Canada

Helen Kelesi serving

Helen Kelesi preparing to serve during a tennis match.
Date: 1986-1994
Collection: Tennis Canada

Helen Kelesi sitting

Helen Kelesi and Federation Cup assistant coach Dubravko Petrovich.
Date: 1989
Collection: Tennis Canada

Helen Kelesi happy playing tennis

Helen Kelesi receiving the ball.
Date: 1986-1994
Collection: Tennis Canada

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