Player

Year Inducted: 1998

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

DOB: October 9, 1967

 

Major Accomplishments:

Only Canadian to have broken into the Top 10 in singles on the professional tour, reaching No. 8 in 1985.

Ranked No. 1 in Canada from 1982-1986.

Fed Cup team member from 1982-1987.

Named “Newcomer of the Year” by the WTA Tour in 1983.

 

Biography:

Carling Bassett was born in Toronto. Her mother, Susan Carling Bassett came from a famous Canadian family. Her great, great grandfather, Sir John Carling was a prominent figure in Canada’s Confederation and her great grandfather was the founder of the Carling Brewery. Her father, John F. Bassett, was from the well-known Toronto family that had an interest for local media and sports teams. He had also owned the Tampa Bay Bandits of the United States Football League and was a player on the Canadian Davis Cup team in 1959.

Bassett grew to love the game of tennis because her father had played on the 1959 Canadian Davis Cup team and when she showed an interest in the sport and drive to become a tennis player, he took her to the famous Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

"What a neat time. It was unbelievable," Bassett-Seguso says about that time of her life. "I had lost in the (Canadian) Nationals like 0 and 0 (singles) and 1 and 0 (doubles) the summer before I went to Nick's," Bassett said. "The next year, I won in singles and doubles,” (NickBollettieri.com). 

In 1981, Bassett won the Canadian junior indoor tennis title. In 1982, she was ranked the No. 2 junior player in the world after winning events in Tokyo and Taipei. That year she also became the youngest winner of the Canadian closed championship at the age of 14. She won the title again in 1983 and 1986. 

In 1982, she won the under-18 title at the prestigious Orange Bowl junior event in Miami at the age of 15 and turned pro a few months later. At 16-years-old, Bassett was Canada’s top tennis player. At the same time, she had a successful second career as a fashion model, working for the world-famous Ford modeling agency. Bassett was considered an Anna Kournikova of her time and in 1983 acted in the movie Spring Fever. It was about young tennis players and was produced by her father. 

Bassett was a player on the Fed Cup team from 1982-1987. In 1983, Bassett advanced to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and won her first top-level singles titles in Pennsylvania. In 1984, she reached the quarter-finals at the French Open and the semifinals at the US Open. She reached the French Open quarter-finals again in 1986.

“She quickly became a hit on the women's tour. Bassett reached a ranking of No. 8 in the world and she advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Open in 1984 before losing to Chris Evert. She also lost twice to Evert in the quarter-finals of the French Open, each time in three sets,” (Herald Tribune, July 15, 2007).But Bassett lost much of her zest for the game after her father died in 1986. Just days after her father's funeral, Bassett was off to Paris for the French Open. It was there that Ann White, another member of Bollettieri's original group of players, introduced Bassett to Robert Seguso. Despite Seguso being one of the top doubles players in the world, Bassett didn't know anything about him.I remember him wearing those big headphones and listening to Bob Dylan," Bassett-Seguso says about their meeting. "I had no interest in him at the time."But they talked, and started hanging out together. They were part of a group that would go to movies and dances. By the time Wimbledon rolled around a few weeks later, they were good friends and were spending a lot of time together, along with John Lloyd and Evert.Within a year Seguso and Bassett were married."I sometimes think I rushed into the relationship," Bassett-Seguso says. "My dad had passed away and maybe I wanted to detatch myself from tennis, and that was a way out. It just happened."They have been together for 20 years.

Seguso's laid-back personality seems to be a stabilizing force for Bassett's high-energy traits.

Fighting demons off court

Bassett has always been high-strung and while living with the pressure of playing professional tennis, she battled more than her opponents. She also fought to overcome a serious eating disorder.

Bassett calls that period a dark time, likening it to an addiction.

Bassett continued to play professionally after giving birth to son Holden, even while dealing with postpartum depression. She left the tour for good shortly after the birth of daughter Carling.

The family spent many years in Boca Raton, where, with the Evert family, they built an academy. Five years ago, they moved back to the west coast, closer to Bassett's mother, who eventually married Colony Beach and Tennis Club owner Murray "Murf" Klauber.

Once again, Bassett threw herself into tennis, this time on the teaching end. Her addictive personality led her to be on the court seven or eight hours a day. While she worked well with other young players, she struggled to maintain perspective with her own children.

She admits to pushing her children and bordering on being verbally abusive.

"I guess it was all about making me look good with their success," she says. "That is really unhealthy."

Holden reached a point where his grades suffered and his interest in tennis waned. Young Carling didn't want her mother around when she played matches.

Holden recently redid several classes, getting straight A's so that he could accept a scholarship to play at UCLA. Carling Seguso is playing the best tennis of her life.

And Carling Bassett-Seguso has found a peace in her life.

"I am much more positive with my children," she says. "This past year, I have backed off and concentrated on other things. It has been good for me. It's been great for me."

Better than a pony at Christmas.

She led the world No. 2 player by 4-2 in the third set of their U.S. televised final before losing 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 at the WTA Championships in Amelia Island, Florida. Bassett was named WTA’s Most Impressive Newcomer in 1983, and Canada’s Female Athlete of the Year in 1983 and 1985. She was ranked No.1 in Canada from 1982 to 1986 and is the only Canadian to have broken into the Top 10 in singles on the professional tour.

In 1987 Bassett married American, Robert Seguso, a top doubles player in the game, who won doubles titles at Wimbledon (twice) and the French Open and US Open. The couple had their first child, Holden, in 1988 and now have three more, Ridley, Carling Jr. and Lennon Shy. Bassett retired from the Tour in 1990 to raise her family.