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March 7, 2008

Lindsay Davenport

STEVE SIMON: Thanks for everybody joining us today. I'm Steve Simon, the tournament director here at the Pacific Life Open. I'd like to introduce the people we have on the call today. With me here on the speaker side will be Amy Binder from the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and Matt Van Tuinen, who is our media director here at the Pacific Life Open.
We're also very pleased to be able to have Lindsay Davenport joining us. Lindsay, as someone who has won 55 tournaments, done all the wonderful things in tennis she's done, doesn't need much of an introduction. She's someone who is very special to us here in Indian Wells and the Pacific Life Open. We're excited that she could join us today.
Lindsay, it's going to be great to have you. Maybe you can open with a few words to the media with respect to coming back here in Indian Wells since you've had the family.
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I'm so excited to come back. I've never been shy about the Pacific Life Open being one of my favorite tournaments for so many reasons. One, it was the first one I ever played professionally. Two, I had my first date with my husband there one year. And, three, last year when I was there was really the first time I had begun thinking that maybe I would want to come back. Just kind of being there, seeing the great tournament and missing it really kind of was the first step in me thinking about coming back.
Besides loving the tournament, it feels kind of like my hometown tournament, even though it's an hour and a half, two hours. But I'm really excited to get down there and play again.
STEVE SIMON: I know the feedback from the patrons and fans has been very strong that they're very excited to see you. I know you're going to have a lot of company out there on the court, so it should be a lot of fun.
STEVE SIMON: Shall we open it up to questions.

Q. Can you talk about some of the things that happened last year that kind of led you to believe you could come back last year when you were at the Pacific Life Open, and how long were you here last year?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Nothing actually led me to believe I could come back because I was seven months pregnant (laughter).
I was actually there on both weekends, the middle weekend and the final weekend. I was visiting some friends. Had to do like a little bit of work stuff.
But, you know, it was a tournament I've played and been a part of for so many years. I was excited to go and see all my friends who I hadn't seen, just being out there and seeing everybody play. You know, just kind of being in the tennis atmosphere for the first time since being pregnant was like a real draw for me. I felt a lot of emotions when I was there. I remember saying that to my husband there, and he was like, Whatever, we'll worry about the baby first, then deal with it later.
It really just hit me as I was kind of walking around, watching the tennis.

Q. Did you get a chance to watch Sybille Bammer last year?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I didn't. You know, actually it was one of the first times I could walk around on an outside court. I had a hat on, a big stomach. I was watching some of my friends play doubles and just hanging out.
I did not see her play, but I understand she did pretty well there last year.

Q. When your son grows up, what kind of things will you be telling him about Indian Wells?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, I mean, my husband was involved in tennis. It's a huge part of our life. I hope we go there every year for the rest of our lives and bring him around tennis and have him grow up with the sport.
But it's such a special tournament for both Jon and myself. You know, I'm excited that Jagger gets to experience it at least once. Not that he'll ever remember watching his mom play there. But to be around a really special place for us. Everybody who is involved in the tournament we love a lot. Just really enjoy going there.

Q. A couple years ago when you got to the finals in 2005, you gave a speech that people thought might be your farewell speech. Can you talk about how you've been able to keep your career going after all these years?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, I really don't know. I mean, a lot of times in the last few years I've thought that it might be the last time that I've been at a certain tournament or a certain place. I think that just happens when you get older. You never quite know when the road kind of ends.
I never thought I'd have such a long career and be able to kind of make it last so long and still be successful at the same time. I'm very proud of that. This year is just kind of all really a blessing, to get to go back to my favorite tournaments and to get to experience it one more time.
I have no idea what will happen in 2009. So I'm kind of approaching this year like this is such and added bonus for me to play Indian Wells and the Grand Slams, to play in front of fans that I've grown up with.

Q. Go back 15 years to when you turned pro. You made the quarterfinals that year. Do you remember anything particularly about that tournament?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I remember a lot. I remember the first round I played a very good Mexican player, Angelica Gavaldon, winning that. I had to sign a piece of paper the night before declaring that I was a professional. Just to win your first match, you always want to start off everything on the right foot. Going all the way through to the quarterfinals where I played one of the players I most admired, Mary Joe Fernandez, who turned out to be one of my best friends in the sport. Playing her, it was all, you know, kind of overwhelming at the time, but so exciting.

Q. You said you never expected to play so long. 15 years now. There were times you said, Another injury, I'm not sure I want to battle back. Last year you were there with the big belly.
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, you never know. I mean, when you're dealing with giving interviews all the time, you're obviously answering questions a lot of times that people don't have to answer in public. I've always tried to be as honest as possible.
I absolutely never thought that I would be playing this long, that I would ever be playing with a child and traveling the world. But, you know, life takes changes. As you get older, you realize maybe how much you love something, how you're not ready to give it up yet. I've really just been going with what I want to do the last few years. With the support of my husband, the rest of my family, it's been great. I've been able to accomplish that, do everything I want to do.

Q. How has having Jagger with you and stuff change your approach or your attitude about playing at all?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: You know, not so much on court. I feel like I'm actually pretty focused on court. I mean, certainly tennis takes such a huge backseat now to overall daily life and what happens when I'm not practicing. I used to take like really good care of my body, have free time, stretch, try and relax. Now it's like come home, you know, I've got him full-time, worried about him, trying to get errands done.
Definitely you cannot be a tennis player and be a mother and be selfish anymore. So in that regard, it takes my mind off tennis. There's no time really to fret about anything or to kind of lament matches. It's like, move on, one step in front of the other and the next day comes.

Q. Early this year you became the all-time leading money winner. Was that a significant milestone or just something that you say if you hang around this long...
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: That's exactly what I say (laughter). I say it's gonna be broken very soon. Prize money goes up so much every year.
But, yeah, I mean, I played forever. I played singles and doubles for a large portion of my career. I've been consistent. But I'm fairly confident a player of Justine's stature or Maria, when they're winning a lot of the Grand Slams, will pass me soon enough.

Q. Are you going to play doubles this year?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I am playing doubles kind of off and on. I'm playing in the desert with Daniela Hantuchova. I think it's great. After trying the new scoring system, it's really phenomenal to play if you're still concentrating on your singles. Matches go much faster, no-ad, no third set. I've actually loved the format. It makes it much easier to play doubles.

Q. Is there any possible way you can sort of evaluate your year so far? Can you give yourself a letter grade or is it incomplete because it's so early?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: You know, for the most part it's been really, really great since the whole comeback started.
But I had the span of like three weeks where I kind of lost -- I definitely was not on the top of my game and kind of lost my way a little bit with how I was playing. That was at the Australian Open and starting in Fed Cup. It wasn't so much the match with Maria. I mean, she played so well. I don't know too many players that would challenge her in that tournament. But even in the first round, I just felt a little off my game. Kind of carried over in that match and then the first match I played in Fed Cup. That was like a little bit concerning.
The last few weeks I've worked pretty hard to get it back on the straight and narrow. I think I'm back (laughter). You know, to have done as well as I've done so far while being back, I mean, I would give myself an A. If you're asking me about this year, it would be a little lower, like a B minus maybe.

Q. You referenced a minute ago with Maria playing so well. Did it come as a bit of not relief but give you some clarity when you rolled through everybody else?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I felt much better about it, that's for sure (laughter). But having said that, I was still disappointed. I've been killed before and have played better in a match like that. Like I said, even the first round wasn't good. You know, I wasn't able to really be in control of any of the points against her. So that's something I'm looking forward to, especially in Indian Wells, playing players that are higher ranked and testing my game. I've played a lot of tournaments against players outside the top 20. Now I'm like, Okay, let's get some players in the top 20, top 10, and let's let me play against them.

Q. A question about your son. What is he up to these days? What sort of things is he doing?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: He's mobile, which makes life a little bit more challenging. But he's crawling, gets across the room faster than we can watch him these days.

Q. How is he on planes?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Oh, it's getting a little tougher. I like to joke that I flew with him home from Melbourne. It was just him and me for 14 hours. I was fine. And then flying a three-hour flight with my nanny and Jagger in his own seat was way more difficult. That was only a month later.

Q. To Memphis?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah. Because he's so much more mobile now. He just wants to move and see what's going on and kicking the chair in front of us. It's like, How a month ago did I do 14 hours alone and now I'm struggling to do a three-hour flight with help? It's like every month it changes.

Q. Will he go with you to Miami, as well?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah. He's going everywhere except maybe not to the Moscow Fed Cup in late April.

Q. He'll skip that?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: We're arguing. But my husband says, yeah, he'll be skipping that.

Q. Does Jon get one veto during tennis season?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I guess. I guess I have to give him his one week alone with him. If that's the week he wants, he can get it.

Q. Do you have a favorite memory from Indian Wells, something in the back of your mind that you just always remember?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: The first thing that popped in my mind when you said that was winning in 2000. I had a really good comeback win against Martina in the finals. The place was, you know, packed. We were 1-2, so there was a lot of going into the match.
I went back out later, won the doubles with my best friend Corina. I had been on a date with my future husband just a few nights earlier. It was kind of like a really special week in 2000. I look back, I can't believe it was eight years ago.

Q. Are you able to tell us where you went that night?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Oh, yeah. We just went to this Mexican restaurant, Don Diego's. Very casual.

Q. This year there's no Belgians. You've played really well. Since 2000 you haven't gotten to the top. The biggest obstacles were those Belgian girls.
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, they were a huge obstacle for a lot of players, so I didn't feel too bad about that.
First off, for Kim, I'm so happy for her. She's obviously a great girl. We played I think maybe two finals there or maybe just one.

Q. It was two.
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Two, yeah. Really happy for her. Hopefully we'll see her back in Indian Wells in 2009. But obviously Justine has turned out to be one of the greatest players to have played. She was still not young, but still coming up at that time. Now she's the most dominant player we have right now in women's tennis.
But I take no shame from losing those finals. Obviously this year, I hope to go one step farther. I don't know if that's possible or not. I'm excited that I get an opportunity to try again.

Q. One year when you played Kim, she was coming off an injury.
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Exactly. She was not even seeded.

Q. Maybe karma will come back and help you this time.

Q. Do you think any one player can sort of run the table in women's tennis or is there too much depth?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I mean, Justine's been doing it last year. I think that when she is concentrated and focused, she's the best player in the game. Also having said that, Maria looked spectacular in Melbourne, extremely high level, very confident, injury-free. You know, if she plays like that, she's obviously capable of doing that.
I believe Justine to be a better athlete. If she can feel good mentally and play well, I think she's got the advantage there.
You know, I don't think Venus and Serena play enough full-time to totally dominate. You know, when they're on, they're pretty scary to face.

Q. It's interesting watching Justine on clay. She's such a force on every other surface, but clay is another level.

Q. Does it take a perfect match to beat her on clay?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I guess. I'm happy I won't have to be dealing with that this year (laughter).
But, yeah, I mean, the way she moves, her ability to play defense and offense is better than anybody who really has played the game, except maybe Steffi. Besides getting balls back, she punishes you with a bad shot. Her knowledge of the surface is better than anybody.

Q. You did beat her there.
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I did? Oh, yeah. She was like 13 (laughter).

Q. I didn't want to say that.
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, that was like so long ago.

Q. Have you been to any Duck games?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: We have not. I wish. I wish. Soon.

Q. There will be time in June.
AMY BINDER: Thank you very much, everybody. We look forward to seeing you in Indian Wells at the Pacific Life Open. Lindsay, thank you very much for your time.
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: You're welcome.

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