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March 11, 2000

Alexandra Stevenson


WTA: Questions for Alexandra.

Q. Do you consider that one of the best matches of your career?

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: I think so. I think that I played the best player, one of the best players, in the world, and I was right there with her. So I guess I played pretty good. I'm still upset that I didn't win. But if I wasn't upset, I guess something would be wrong with me. I mean, Serena is one of the best, so I think I did pretty well. The best match, it's hard to say because -- I guess so. I see myself making a couple more shots, so I wouldn't say it was my greatest match because I can play better, not make so many errors. But so far, it's pretty up there.

Q. What did you do in that second set to turn it around?

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: I told myself to hang in there and get tough and to hold my serve, that was a key. In the third, I didn't do that, but I'll work on that. Just to focus on her serve, to hold my ground, to hold my ground on the baseline, to move up. In the first set, it was really close, but I was getting caught behind the baseline still. I just told myself to keep moving forward and fight hard.

Q. How would you analyze the way the third set panned out?

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: I think at 2-1 on my serve, that long game, I don't know how many deuces, a lot, but I should have won that game. I think it would have been a different match. But she hit great shots on my returns, and I didn't get enough first serves in on that game. That changed it. I'll just go back and practice hard to not do that next time.

Q. What is your next tournament?

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Well, Ericsson. I almost called it the Lipton. The Ericsson Open is my next tournament.

Q. Did you ever play her when you were a little kid?

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: No, I never played her. I always played Venus. This is the first time I've ever played Serena. It took a long time to finally play each other, but we finally met.

Q. Did you talk a little before the match about playing, what that would be like?

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Well, we didn't see each other because we're staying at different hotels. But before the match, we said hi, all that. Pretty much, I think with Venus, Serena, and I, when you go on the court, it's war out there. It doesn't matter who it is, we both play. I think more women should learn how to do this, and men, too. You just go out and put it all on the court, put your blood on the court. Then afterwards, it's fine, it's over. Took me about ten minutes, then I went over to her.

Q. What do you think the strongest point of her game is?


Q. Yes.

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: I think that she stays right on the baseline, compared to me. I still get caught back behind the baseline, but she doesn't. She holds her ground, unless you really push her back. I think her backhand's really strong.

Q. How did Nick suggest you play her?

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Well, I can't disclose that information or else it would be out in the open (laughter). He was very positive. He just told me what I'm going to do against everyone, which is move in, hit it, and forget about it - don't think too much. And first serve percentage, make that high and get a lot of first serves in.

Q. You were pretty aggressive, even with your second serve, you had a lot of aces. Was that part of the game plan coming in?

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: That's part of my game all the time. But against Serena, I think I served pretty well. The second serves were a lot better than they have been because I've been working on my serve. I was hitting it better tonight.

Q. How much encouragement do you take from this?

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Well, I'm told that I should take a lot of encouragement, so I guess I'm going to. I'm going to work really hard. I mean, I think I'm right there now. So I'm just going to take this match and learn a lot from it and go to the next tournament and hopefully I'll win my first match. I think that's my goal. Been getting tough draws here. They're good because it's a good learning experience. I've learned that since Wimbledon, I have a lot of high expectations for myself. I kind -- actually Billie Jean told me that. She goes, "You kind of have to be a rookie and not think you're going to get to the top really fast." I think I go out there going, "Well, I should be Top 10 right away." I just have to be patient. This match showed me that working hard has gotten me better and I'm right there with the best player in the world. So I think I'm okay.

Q. Is Billie Jean your mentor?

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Tracy ^ Austin is my mentor. Billie Jean, she's kind of the overall mentor. She's great. I told her, "Well, I really wanted to win this match because I need to get to the Olympics, so you have to work something out, and I'll just have to win more and get up there." That's my goal, I'd really love to get to the Olympics. She said, "I'll try." Hopefully, she wants all the Americans to go. I think America is the hardest country to get to the Olympics.

Q. Do you think that doing as well as you did in Wimbledon might have served to retard your progress in a way in that you noted since Wimbledon you have high expectations? Do you think you might have been trying too much?

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: No, because I always am going to try for too much -- not too much, but just to reach my ability. I'm just going to keep moving forward. You can never really think like, "I'm going to stop here." My mom always told me, "You can reach for the stars and land on the moon." That's my prerogative. I guess you can put it that way.

Q. Do you think that maybe Wimbledon kind of jinxed you in a way?

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: No. Wimbledon was a great experience. I think it taught me a lot. I mean, if it hadn't have been for Wimbledon, I would have been in UCLA this semester. So it was great. You can't have it all. It's been six months, I think. It doesn't happen right away, as shown. The past champions, like Steffi Graf, she had a lot of losses. Pete Sampras had a lot of losses after the US Open. You just have to be positive and put your work ethic in and work really hard. It's going to happen sooner or later.

Q. Is there a part of you that thinks that you're missing something by not being at college like most kids your age?

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Well, I talk to my friends on e-mail. Maybe the sororities, I always wanted to be in a sorority. But I read books about it, so I kind of live through the books (laughter). I guess I'm definitely missing the education part. I made sure I graduated high school and got my education, but you still can go farther. I'm reading on the Tour. You get to see so many places. I think I'm pretty well-balanced. But I'd like to go back to college later, maybe film school or acting. Sometimes I miss it. But, I mean, look what I'm doing. I'm playing tennis every day, working really hard, going to all these great cities. After the Ericsson, a couple more tournaments, I get to go to Berlin, Rome, and Paris for the first time. Not many 19-year-olds get to do that.

Q. Do you think you'll be in the Top 10 by September?

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Hopefully, that's my goal. I'm going to work really hard. So I'd have to say yes, I'm going to try to.

Q. How comfortable are you at net? Is it still a big learning process once you get up there?

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: Well, I think I need to get up there a little more. In doubles I'm pretty comfortable. It's just in singles, it's hard to get up to the net when you're playing good players, to find a way in. I think right now, I'm pretty comfortable, but I need to work on it a lot more. I mean, for instance, if I wanted to be like Martina Navratilova, she just went all the time. She's a great person to look at for volleying. I'm just going to work on it a lot.

Q. When you met at the net, you hugged. Did she say anything unusual to you?

ALEXANDRA STEVENSON: She told me I was there. She said, "Great match, you're there." It's funny, I'm kind of considered the baby of the three because I started late. I guess if Serena said I'm there, then I'm getting pretty close. We're great friends, and I worked hard, but she played very well.

End of FastScripts….

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