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January 27, 2017

Hana Mandlikova

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

THE MODERATOR: I'd like to introduce Hana Mandlikova, who I'm sure you all know. Hana will be presenting the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup at tomorrow night's women's singles final.

Questions, please.

Q. How does it feel to be back in Melbourne and Melbourne Park?
HANA MANDLIKOVA: I haven't been here for, like, 30 years. It's amazing. Last time when I was coaching Jana, it was like, what, 1987 maybe. No, 1997, right? So when Craig called me and said he would love me to give the trophy, I was excited and honored to be back.

My son is here with me. We went to Kooyong. I showed him where I played. It was really nice.

Q. What are your memories of the Australian Open?
HANA MANDLIKOVA: Australia, I came here as a 15-year-old girl. I always was very successful here. I loved Australia, loved the people. I just always loved Australia. My favorite country, you know. I think it's also because I was very successful here always, so that's why.

Q. You kept in contact with tennis. You were coaching.
HANA MANDLIKOVA: No, when I stopped coaching Novotna, I basically didn't watch tennis for 10 years. I was just overwhelmed, very tired from the traveling and tennis and everything. I just didn't watch tennis at all 10 years.

Then I had my kids. I'm back in it again. They both play. They start playing ITFs and everything. It's a lot of traveling. I just try not to travel as much. They have their own coach. So I don't travel that much.

Q. Who do you like tomorrow of the two Williams sisters?
HANA MANDLIKOVA: I think Serena's going to win. I think she's stronger. She has a better serve than Venus. Venus' serve can still kind of go away sometimes. That's what I predict, if you want to hear.

From the men's, if Nadal wins today, I think he's going to win the whole tournament. If Nadal loses today, Roger's going to win the tournament. That's my opinion. That's what I think.

Q. What would Venus have to do to rattle her sister?
HANA MANDLIKOVA: Actually, I went to watch yesterday against CoCo. It seems on the TV that everything is hit harder. Of course, they're great players and they play great. I just thought they hit harder.

Was a great match. You never know. I mean, I am not saying it's written in gold that Serena is going to win. Of course, Venus can beat her. They're both unbelievable players. It's amazing at 35 and 36 they're in a final of a Grand Slam. I don't know how is that possible because I stopped when I was 29. I had enough.

But look, they still have the passion. They still love to compete. They love the sport. I think it's great for women's tennis.

Q. How different did you feel stepping out onto the court for a Grand Slam final the third or fourth time compared to the first time?
HANA MANDLIKOVA: Huge difference. I mean, my first Grand Slam finals, actually, I won it. It was in Australia '81, against Wendy Turnbull. I was too young to basically think what I was doing. I was 18 years old. I just came up there. I was nervous.

Let me think. No, no, no. I'm sorry. See, I'm getting old. My first Grand Slam final was against Chris Evert at Wimbledon. I lost 6-2, 6-2. I was very nervous. That was my first experience. Then I won Australian Open.

So, yes, it's really big difference. I mean, you have to get used to getting into the finals before win it. I remember I was just happy to be there. It's kind of like, I'm in the finals, I'm not expected to win. I'm going to do my best. But on the other hand the head wasn't there. The belief wasn't there.

You learn when you get more and more into finals what to do.

Q. When you feel pressure or nerves on the court, as a player, where would that manifest itself in your game?
HANA MANDLIKOVA: For me, I was pretty lucky in a way where I was very nervous always before the match. Then I went, I warm up on the court. Maybe was nervous two, three games, then it kind of went away.

I wasn't nervous, like, the whole match or anything. It went away. That's what happens to champions, where you get rid of it kind of. You learn to know the trick how to get rid of it.

Another story is when you get to the finals, I got very nervous in '85 when I was playing Martina because that was my third US Open final, and I really, really wanted to win it. I remember getting very tight, very nervous.

I remember still, like, at the tiebreaker in the third set, I was serving, and my hand was going like that (shaking). I hope nobody sees it. But you have to overcome that. Everybody goes through that. If you're good enough, you can do it.

Q. When you come back to tournaments like this, do the memories come flooding back?
HANA MANDLIKOVA: You know, it's different. I mean, so many things changed in here. All I remember basically from the stadium is just the hall when you walk through. Everything else is different. I do not remember.

For me, as I went to Kooyong, memories came back. But for me, I maybe played two more years after, then I quit. I don't have that big memories here, you know, as a player.

As a coach, yes, because Jana got to the finals of the Grand Slam, losing to Seles, if you remember. So as a coach, yes, but as a player, no.

Q. As a coach, you were a woman who coached women. Do you think it's different at all when a woman coaches a female player versus when a man does? What is your take on that?
HANA MANDLIKOVA: I don't know. Everybody's different. Whatever works for you. I mean, if somebody is good, it can be a woman or man, doesn't matter. It's up to the player what they want.

Look, I mean, Amelie coach Murray. I said, What can she give him? He already won Grand Slams. I was asking that question to myself.

Then I said, Well, obviously she's giving him something, otherwise he wouldn't be coached by her.

It depends on the player, what the player wants, what the player wants to do. So I don't know. Everybody's different.

Q. Talking about Fed Cup. Obviously you won a few Fed Cup titles. Now the Czech Republic has a dynasty going on.
HANA MANDLIKOVA: It's a big, long dynasty. It's great.

Q. Karolina Pliskova was saying for her, her results at a slam, people don't pay attention to at home.
HANA MANDLIKOVA: To the Grand Slams?

Q. Yes. But when she would help lead the Czech team back home... Historically, did you experience a similar disconnect or discord?
HANA MANDLIKOVA: I don't know. At my time we never played at home in Czech Republic. It was a different setup. We played, like, one week, and all the countries went in there. You know what I mean? We didn't play in our country.

Q. Home and away?
HANA MANDLIKOVA: No, it didn't exist like that. I never had that feeling for being supported by the Czech crowd. What I see, it's unbelievable what they get. It's a national pride.

Czech people love sports. They love to watch tennis, soccer, ice hockey. They really support their players. I think it's unbelievable playing. Must be for the girls. I wish I could have ever experienced that. It must be great feeling to play in front of your crowd.

For me, we always played, like, when we won it in Japan, in Brazil. I don't know. The whole teams came there, and we played for the one week there.

I never experienced it. I don't know. I mean, I think people still follow the Grand Slams where she played or Petra played. I'm sure they follow it the same way. It's just for them, for the people, seeing the players there, that's why she feels it has more meaning. I think everybody knows what has more meaning, Grand Slams, right?

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