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July 5, 2016

Elena Vesnina

London, England

E. VESNINA/D. Cibulkova
6‑2, 6‑2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Are you surprised to be in a Grand Slam singles semifinal?
ELENA VESNINA: I was waiting for this question. I am. I am very surprised. It was like a dream came true. I'm always thinking, like, I can do well in the Grand Slams. I had some good wins. I was close to be in the quarterfinal couple times, but it was not good enough. I was just waiting and waiting for this happen.
But, of course, semifinal is a big surprise for me.

Q. What happened to make it possible?
ELENA VESNINA: Self‑belief. I think positive thinking. I was not putting any pressure on myself going on the court. I know I'm on the good shape, I'm playing good. But it's always tough, you know, when you know you in a good shape to build your game from beginning till the end and keep playing the same level.
So I was just trying to be focused on every single game. I was not thinking about my draw. I didn't see who I was playing next round. I was trying to enjoy myself on the court first of all, because I'm here at Wimbledon. It's one of the best tennis tournament in tennis history with the best players in the world. I have to enjoy myself here.

Q. Did you think that Grand Slam breakthrough would happen here at Wimbledon?
ELENA VESNINA: I always knew I could play good on grass. I'm really happy that it happened here in Wimbledon this year.
Yeah, I mean, it's just amazing. I still can't believe that it's happen. I'm really impressed the way I played the whole tournament. You know, match by match, I was playing better and better.
Yeah, it's just incredible.

Q. Both you and Dominika played very long matches yesterday. She looked a little bit tired. You were in fantastic shape.
ELENA VESNINA: Yeah, we both had really tough matches, marathon matches yesterday. I was watching Dominika's match yesterday because we were going after this. It was up and down, Dominika had match points. I knew she had long match.
Me too. I had singles and we had to play doubles, as well. We finished quite late.
I think first thing that I was not thinking about being tired. I was just thinking that this is my chance, and I had to use it.
As I said, I'm really impressed the way I played today. I was playing from the first ball till the last ball, like, really confident, aggressive. I was not giving her a lot of time. I was using the pace really good. My serve was working and helping me a lot in the key moments.

Q. You mentioned self‑belief. Is that something you didn't really have before? Why do you think you have it now?
ELENA VESNINA: I think it's coming with experience altogether. You really appreciate more what you have now. You really enjoying what you doing. I love playing tennis. It's the best thing what can happen with me. I'm really enjoying my time on the court, and off the court as well.
I had really difficult beginning of the year, end of the year. I dropped out of the top 100. I was playing all tournaments starting from qualifications. I had a lot of matches under my belt. It was not easy, to be honest, because I was in top 30, then I was like 120 or something. Yeah, it was not easy.
I'm really happy that it didn't break me up. I think the difficult times, every single player has to go through it because it makes you better, it makes you stronger.

Q. Your opponent clearly didn't expect to be at this stage of the tournament with a wedding booked for Saturday. Did you have any plans for this weekend or did you leave it free?
ELENA VESNINA: No, I had wedding last year. I'm good. I did it in the off‑season (laughter).
Yeah, of course, Dominika has some important event coming really soon. I said to her, I told her, You must enjoy this day, I wish you all the best, I'm waiting a lot of pictures from you.

Q. How do you feel about playing Serena on Centre Court on grass?
ELENA VESNINA: That's a dream semifinal. I think nothing can be better than playing against Serena in semifinal on Centre Court at Wimbledon. It's special.
Of course, I need to try to win this match. It's not only about, like, you know, you have to show your best tennis. You have to stick to your game, you have to be solid, you have to enjoy yourself on the court. Of course, I will try to win it.
Serena, I'm admiring her. I'm always watching. She's No.1 in the world. She's best player in the world. I respect both Serena and Venus. What they bring to the sport is just incredible.
It will be big challenge for me, but I hope I can accept this challenge.

Q. How much of a role has your success in doubles over the years played in your maturation and self‑belief that you talked about?
ELENA VESNINA: It gives you a lot. We have so many tournaments through the year, it's always up and down. You can't be consistent. You can't be playing final or semifinal every week. When you're down, you lost first or second round in singles, you still have doubles.
You can practice your game. You're still in the tournament. It gives you some confidence. Some wins. You have the trophy at the end of the week. It gives you some self‑belief. It gives you some positive thinking. It gives you, like, confidence in your shots as well because you're practicing serves, volleys, returns.
Then next week, you're coming, you have some wins under your belt. Somebody lost first round, being practicing one week, coming next week. You can be unlucky with the draw, then two weeks in a row you're losing first round and second round. It's not giving you that much confidence.
I think young players, they should play more doubles from the beginning of their career because it really helps to build your game. You will be the complete player. You will have all‑court game, not only on the baseline, also at the net.
It also helped me in the singles because I know that I'm coming to the net, I'm confident. I know what to do there. Of course, if somebody will pass me with an incredible shot, I mean, I will just clap because it's just nothing you can do.
But it's just in my game strategy, I know it can help me in the tough moments.

Q. Do you think it will help you tomorrow because you've been on bigger show courts?
ELENA VESNINA: It's on Thursday?

Q. It's on Thursday.
ELENA VESNINA: Thank God it's Thursday. Not three days in a row (laughter).
I hope so. You need to put pressure on Serena. You need to put pressure on any player in the world.

Q. What is there in your game and mental approach that you think would be the biggest challenge for Serena to face?
ELENA VESNINA: We always have had good matches with Serena in the past. I think she respect me as a player. She was always saying that it's tough to play against me. I remember she was saying that a lot of times. We had a lot of good doubles matches, as well, in the past.
First of all, you need to be consistent with Serena. You don't need to give her a lot of free points. You have to be very, very strong mentally, and, as I said, put pressure on her on the baseline, to show her you can actually beat her.
I was watching her final against Angelique in Australian Open on the court. It was great atmosphere over there. I saw how Angelique, she was sticking into her game from the first till the last. She was not giving up.
Yeah, maybe Serena didn't play her best tennis, and that was the key, and Angelique used her chances on that moment. Maybe that's going to be the key for me as well.
You have to use your chances against Serena. If she's giving you that chances, you need to be there. If she's serving aces all over the place, hitting winners, nothing you can do. You just have to stick and wait and be there, stick with her.

Q. You played Justine Henin 10 years ago or so at the French Open. She said after, she thought you were going to be a top player. Did you ever lose belief that would still happen at this age?
ELENA VESNINA: Yeah, of course, everybody had this kind of time when you're down and you're thinking that it's over, you're never going to be there, and you're watching tennis on the TV, how everybody's winning and playing semifinals, finals of the Grand Slams.
But I'm a very positive person. I'm never getting down too much on myself. I know that there is a life besides of tennis. So I'm really trying to be fast to forgive all the losses, just to forget it, just move forward.
I'm the person like that in life. It's no matter what, it's not tennis, it's just the life thinking. I know that now I'm close to 30. Most of you are thinking that it's end of the career. But look at Venus. Look at Serena. It's just depends on how you feel and how you want to keep going, how you want to continue your matches, your games.
I think a lot of players in this age, they start to understand and appreciate what they have more than when I was, let's say, 19 or 20. I think that's the key, as well.

Q. You talked about having a tough start to the season. When did things start to turn around with you with respect to your self‑belief? Was it Charleston? Before that?
ELENA VESNINA: It was Australian Open mixed doubles final title there. I think that gives me a lot of positive thinking. When you winning a Grand Slam title, it's always giving you big, big goosebumps, big self‑beliefs.
As well it was Doha. First tournament when I did well in singles, it was Doha. I came from the quallies, I beat Simona Halep, I beat Carolina Wozniacki, Garcia. It was big tournament for me on that time.
After that I was like, Okay, now you can play good against the top players, you know you can do well, just go for that.

Q. You'll be heading to Rio. What is your opinion on Russian athletics having sort of a blanket ban, even on athletes who are not proven to have doped?
ELENA VESNINA: That was a big thing in Russia. I was feeling sad for the athletes who was clear, who cannot go to the Rio. I thought it's not fair. I thought that.
I know there is some issues against the Russian anti‑doping system, how it's going on in there.
Of course, somebody had to, you know, give an answer for that. I thought that the athletes, the clear athletes, it's not their fault and they should have a chance to compete. For them, they practicing for three and a half, four years. This is the biggest tournament for them in their life. They really deserve to be there because Russian athletes is one of the best. They're always expecting a lot of medals from the track and field.
Of course, it's just really, really sad. I hope that it will change one day.

Q. I couldn't help but laugh at your tweet a few weeks ago about the Lendl effect.
ELENA VESNINA: You see, I have it now. I need to speak about that with Bruno. That's true actually. Good that you mentioned that. That's definitely the Lendl effect.

Q. Can you explain what you're referring to?
ELENA VESNINA: That was Bruno Soares, my mixed doubles partner, he tweeted three weeks ago at the Queen's tournament, there is with a hashtag, a Lendl effect, because he's playing with Jamie Murray, who is brother of Andy Murray, who won Queen's. They won, as well. They were winning some tournaments. There's definitely Lendl effect.
I tweet them back, I'm your partner in mixed doubles, I'm your partner as well.
He said, You will see, you will get it.
I am in semifinal of Wimbledon. There is something in it.

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