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January 30, 2015

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Lucie Safarova


6-4, 7-6
An interview with:

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Do you think they're dancing in the streets in Neenah?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I don't know, but I know a lot of my family was up. I just FaceTimed them all. I called them all. It was 3:00 in the morning, 4:00 in the morning there and everybody was up in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Arizona, Florida. So it was pretty cool.

Q. Is there a feeling after all these years, I'm a Grand Slam champion and they'll never be able to take that away from me?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: For sure. I obviously I had the mixed doubles title here a few years ago with Horia. I mean, our name is carved on this trophy. It's pretty cool. This trophy at least started in 1922, I think. It's got a lot of great names on there. We get to add ours now.

Q. How unexpected was it for you two pairing together for the first time here?
LUCIE SAFAROVA: Well, my coach is good friend with Justin, that's husband. And I knew you as well for long time already. They messaged in off-season. We were like, Yeah, of course. Because, I mean, it's a pleasure to play with Bethanie. She's a great doubles player. Always fun.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I don't know how often it's happened that a first-time pairing has won. But, I mean, you get two great players playing together, I think a big part of it is me and Lucie are really good friends. Communication's huge. Whether we were down in a match, up in a match, we were having fun. I think that helps teams really play well.

LUCIE SAFAROVA: That's the most important, yeah.

Q. What was the exact day you started playing together?

Q. Did you practice together?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: We practiced the day before we played singles here.

LUCIE SAFAROVA: Warmup, just, no? But no doubles practice.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: The day before. No doubles practice. Actually, we didn't even really know which side we were going to play.

LUCIE SAFAROVA: We were switching.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: We started off on the opposite sides; we switched. I think we switched again. It was pretty spur of the moment.

Q. You're known for your outfits.
LUCIE SAFAROVA: Great outfits.

Q. Are you happy you went down that road? Are you proud that it was an individual expression? Do you ever have doubts? Do you think your tennis was dismissed because of it?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: No, my tennis was never dismissed, I don't think. For me it was just kind of expressing my personality. I know when I'm true to myself I play better. It was never anything distracting. It was always fun for me and it helped me kind of relax. It was something to get your mind focused on something else. Whenever I stepped on the court, it's always about tennis. My team knows, and Lucie obviously knows, how much effort goes into getting here. In the off-season you're putting in the hours and the time. I don't think I've ever put that much time into picking out an outfit, so it's been all tennis.

Q. There were thrift shop outfits in Wimbledon and I think leopard suits. What is your all-time favorite?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: All-time favorite? It's funny, because I got asked that on Twitter the other day. I had this leopard print dress from the US Open. I actually still have the dress, but there's no pictures of it. It's not the shorts. I played doubles with Sania. Sania like killed me for it too. She was like, What are you doing?

LUCIE SAFAROVA: The bandana.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Yeah, so there's been a few. It's always changing. It's always going with my mood, how I feel. Stuck with coloring my hair the last couple years. It's always changing. I like keeping people guessing.

Q. Do you think it was kind of weird because there was a fatwa because of what she was wearing but not you?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I think it's just different. We're from different countries. I think different pressures are put on her; different expectations are put on her. She has a huge following. When I played doubles with her I was Mirza's partner. No, me and Sania are still good friends. She actually photobombed us I think a little bit with our trophy, so... But, no, I mean, doubles for me is a blast.

Q. How much of this success for both of you gives you good confidence moving forward for singles this year, too?
LUCIE SAFAROVA: I think, yeah, it's great. It's a boost of confidence for future doubles and singles. I think we played amazing matches here. Just excited for upcoming tournament.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Yeah, I think there's a lot you can draw on for your singles. You work on returns. It's a little different strategy obviously. You're getting match practice. There's so many things you can work on in your doubles for your singles. I think both help each other.

Q. Lucie, you've won WTA doubles titles before. What's it like having a slam now?
LUCIE SAFAROVA: It's just so special. I mean, it's hard to describe the feelings. It's like such a huge happiness, because to be a Grand Slam champion, it's just the best what you can have.

Q. Last year after Li Na won there were all these references to the shot you almost made. Do you think this more than makes up for that? Did you ever get a little tired of people talking about that?
LUCIE SAFAROVA: Last year? (Laughter.) Well, yeah, I mean, I just went for the shot. It was a little long (laughter).

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: So it was long, not wide?

LUCIE SAFAROVA: Right (laughter). Yeah, I mean, this is tennis. Until the last ball isn't finished, it's not. So, of course it makes it very special that I'm here as a Grand Slam champion in doubles this year. But, yeah, keep working on my singles.

Q. What is the most fun part playing with this creative, crazy American?
LUCIE SAFAROVA: Pressure. No, I think like that's a great person. I really enjoyed all two weeks.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Our tea times in the morning.

LUCIE SAFAROVA: Tea times. It's been fun, which is the most important, to have fun. Then the tennis comes with it and the success, so that's great.

Q. What are we talking about tea time?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: We had tea time in the locker room every morning before the warmup or the match. We would get our Earl Grey.


Q. In addition to tea times, what other sort of rituals or superstitions do you have before matches?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Lucie was watching me tape my feet every day. You can't see, but I have a lot of tape on my feet for blister prevention. Nothing is bad. She would always come. I'll be here. She'd leave, go get something to eat, come back, I'd still be there.

LUCIE SAFAROVA: Training room specialist.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: My support team member in the training room. That was probably a pretty decent amount of our time.


Q. More joyous to win this title or is it more painful to see the Packers go down?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Oh, I'm still upset about the Packers. Oh, my gosh. I'm going home. I'm going to be home for the Super Bowl. It's in Phoenix. I was so excited for them. I was watching the game when I was here. I am so bummed they lost. Aaron is still the man. I believe in him. Still a good team. But, yeah, I was heartbroken.

Q. Have you made solid plans to play together again?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: We actually haven't even talked about it yet.

LUCIE SAFAROVA: Would you like to play with me (laughter)?

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: In the off-season it was literally, Let's play Australian Open. I know some teams kind of plan for the year a little bit. For me, you know, I want to get a chance to see how my hip felt, see how my body felt. That's why I wasn't planning too far ahead. It literally was one tournament initially. Obviously we'll be playing some more.

Q. After all you've gone through, what did it feel like when you were handed the trophy on Rod Laver?
LUCIE SAFAROVA: It's just extreme happiness. It's tough to describe. It's like you practice so many hours and then you practice for this, to be out there to hold the trophy. So it's just such a satisfaction.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Yeah. I mean, it's cool. Like I think we said before, we were just looking at all the names that are listed on it. Ours is going to be on there, too. There's a lot of great players on here. It's pretty cool to think we made history, so it's pretty overwhelming.

Q. Talk about a bit as a pairing did you sort of learn anything from each other?
LUCIE SAFAROVA: I'm learning every day from her. I will learn more. (Laughter.)

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: I think every day we kind of learned what our strengths were. I think the more you play doubles with someone, you kind of know which part of the court to cover, when they're going, when they're not. Those are the little things that help when you play a few matches. You kind of figure out what each other's strengths are, when to go for what at what times. The more you play, the more you get a feel for the style you want to play in. We actually played pretty aggressive doubles. We pulled a lot-of-I-formation. We came to net a lot. So we mixed it up. We hit heavy from the back, threw up lobs. We hit almost every shot in our doubles. So, you know, I think that's kind of what you learn about each other, is really building on each other's strengths.

Q. Because often pairs take a while to gel.
LUCIE SAFAROVA: I mean, I had some partners where it took really a long time to find a good combination and to play well, but I think we pretty much right away we played well.

BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: It was great. We figured out what strategies kind of work, what court you're covering. I think that's kind of a big thing sometimes. When you see doubles pairings, they pass up the middle a lot. That's coverage issues. We didn't really have a lot of that. I try and call a lot of balls, you, me, out. You got a couple today, though. It's good. It really comes down to communication. You know, I mean, Lucie is an awesome player. It's not like, you know, we have to coach each other out there. We know what we're doing. It's just a matter of kind of getting us to play our strengths. I think that's why we won.

Q. You've been on the tour for so long. What do you really love about this game? What drives you crazy? What do you hate?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: What do I love? I mean, I can't say I love rehab and all that kind of stuff. You know, you do all that and you train hard for the moments like today. I mean, you want to go out there and play your game. Obviously we know we're in a final, but you kind of get past that and you love to play tennis. You love to come up with shots. I like those big-pressure moments. Okay, I'm going to cross; I'm going to take a chance. I like taking chances. That's kind of my game. I'm aggressive. I'm not afraid to do that. You get those big moments where it's tight in the tiebreaker, you call a big play. To me that's what makes tennis exciting.

Q. How much do you know about your opponents?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: Our opponents are tough. I played them both a few times. Obviously I know Zheng Jie has a couple Grand Slam titles. Leticia has beaten us a couple times when I played with other partners. They're a tough team. They did a great job of hustling. We would hit some volleys that would be winners against other people. They cover the court very well. They play pretty aggressive. Their balls go low over the net. It was a tough team and we knew we had to play well going into this match.

Q. At the ceremony Zheng Jie almost cried.
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: She goes to me, Four times I've been in the final, I haven't won. You couldn't let me get this one? I'm sorry. She's a great doubles player. I think she's going to do well. I'm not sure if they're continuing to play together this year. They're both great doubles players, and I'm sure they're going to get some titles this year.
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