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September 10, 2017

Kim Clijsters

Lindsay Davenport

Mary Joe Fernandez

Martina Navratilova

New York, NY, USA

An interview with:





THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Congratulations to the champions, first of all. You win a lot of these, Martina.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I either play with Lindsay or Kim. The key is to pick a really, really great partner.

Q. How competitive are you still about these?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: The biggest thing is -- I think I can speak for all of us -- we don't want to embarrass ourselves, right? That's, like, the biggest thing. Once we realize we don't embarrass ourselves, then we get competitive. It's about that. I threw in a couple of really bad tosses that, you know, I'm glad there were not many people to see.

Once I get the ball in play, I'm good. It's the serve that's dicey. It's just fun to play with these guys. We just want people to enjoy what we are doing, that we are out there.

Q. As a former Fed Cup captain, can you talk about the women in this tournament?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Yeah, it was so much fun for me to watch them. I feel like they're my girls, you know, my family. I spent about nine years with them. I had Sloane as a junior on one of my first Fed Cups in the Czech Republic. And then I had Maddie right away when she was coming up. I had CoCo in my very first one in Arizona as a junior.

So to watch them grow up and mature and develop, to put it all together, knowing, you know, all the ability that they possess, was pretty special.

I think it just bodes really well for the future. And I don't know if you watched the junior final, but we have some really good Americans coming up, too.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Anisimova, she can play.

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: So can Cori Gauff. She's 13 years old.


MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: 13. I think it's looking good. For me it was thrilling. It was really, really exciting.

Q. What do you think about age rule as it is now and just sort of the WTA trying to slow down success where they didn't before?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: For me, it seemed like it slowed down a little too much. I don't mind juniors, but the biggest development that really comes is, to me, like 16 to 20. That's when you make the biggest jumps. They are not playing against the best players at that stage.

So better err too much on the side of safety, now that you have longevity, but you do miss out on some of it. I would like for them to ease it a little bit, 16 on. But 13 is like -- my kids are 16 and 12. You know, but of course they play tennis about three hours a week, if that.

Still, 13, I mean, that's another -- Hingis and Kournikova were that good at that age. So chances are this 13-year-old is going to be a champion if she stays healthy. That's the biggest thing, staying healthy.

Q. You were around during the Capriati concerns. There was the rule change. What do you think about that?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, I understand what the WTA is trying to do. I don't love it. I think when some of these youngsters get into a tournament, they feel even more pressure. It's, like, I only have six years, only have eight, whatever that number is, and I've seen it...


LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I feel like if someone is good enough at whatever age, whether it's 15 or 18, who is someone else to tell them that they can't do it, right? Gymnastics or other sports, ice-skating.

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: That might be their window.

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: We saw Hingis, she won three majors all at 16.

Q. That was her peak.
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Totally. I don't love it, but I understand it's, like, with good intentions but I would love to see it...

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think they could and should ease up a little bit. We are trying to be the parents, and we're not the parents. It's the parents that need to say, okay, this is enough.

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think that's where the problem is at times. You have the parents who go crazy when they're in a situation like this and want the kids to play and make money.

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: I turned pro at 14. I played tournaments when I was 13, but I didn't play full time. I stayed in school and played mainly in the summer. So it's about balancing it, and the parents and the coaches have to know the right line there.

Q. Can you just talk a little bit about some of the things you spoke to Madison about yesterday? What do you think she's going to get from this experience?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, it's obviously tough in the immediate aftermath. She's just gutted. I think also emotionally spent, but also gutted that she couldn't play at a certain level in the biggest match of her career.

She knew it was a great opportunity, and she just had nothing left in the tank. So she was pretty upset. You know, I saw her right before I came out here, and she's still upset.


MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Exactly. That's a good sign.

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: But being part of her team and everything we have gone through this year -- you know, I have talked to Mary Joe about it every step of the way. I could cry with happiness for her and how much she's improved and changed and matured in even the last three months.

I have to say everybody around her is so happy for her. Obviously, as I told her, one match changes nothing. Everything that you have done or are doing this last three months are going to put you in a position to have another opportunity for that chance.

We are leaving here, me, thrilled, sad, but thrilled for her and excited for the future. I think it will take her a few days or maybe a week or maybe two weeks. I don't know. She'll be okay.

Q. Going back to CoCo Gauff, obviously you have a 13-year-old girl in the final. She's in a position where she may be too good for juniors in a couple years but she's going to be very limited in the amount of pro tournaments she can play. When you have somebody like that, how do you train them? What's the process where they are limited to tournament exposure but they still want to keep getting better and...
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Maybe hire a good lawyer? I don't know.


MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah, I don't know if that rule would stand a legal challenge. But you don't want to have to do that.

Yeah, it's tricky. I don't know. But, you know, the tour will still be there when she's 18. She's not really going to lose out that much, but at the same time, somebody's such a phenom.

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: You have to keep developing your game. You have to keep developing her game and improving. I saw her at the Orange Bowl in Miami in December, and she won the 12s. And I found out it was her third year playing in the 12s. She had lost in the semis and the final and she wanted to win it. She could have played the 18s, probably. But I like that.

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: She played the 12s eight months ago?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Yes. I thought that was such a good sign. So you still want to win at your own age, you know, and deal with that pressure. I want to say Martina Hingis did that. She played the juniors two years in a row, having won it, but at the end of the day, you have to keep improving.

Q. We have so many first-time Grand Slam finalists this year. You have all been in Grand Slam finals, lost in some finals. The emotions, how long does it take to get over losing a Grand Slam final and what are the conflicting emotions of that, being proud of getting to that final match, that moment, but then also having to accept the loss, as well?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I think everybody reacts different in those kind of situations. I think it also depends on how the final was. I lost four Grand Slam finals before I won my first. To me, okay, it's disappointing you lose them, but I was the most frustrated I wasn't able to play my best tennis when I was supposed to play my best tennis.

It's a learning process, and you learn, you know, from those losses and from being in that situation. The only thing you can do is just try to give yourself other opportunities to get through those big moments in Grand Slams and try to do better every time.

Q. We have seen a lot of players this season come back from breaks and play some of their best tennis. Can you talk about what that does for you and why we have seen it so often?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: I didn't think I was coming back after I had Jada, but I think at times, just to get away from it a little bit, it gives you a different perspective. A lot of players play with aches and pains. Maybe you can recover your whole body at times and maybe you can focus on getting healthy and strong. You know, however long you're out for, you have time to always work on things.

I think maybe that's, you know, the reason why mentally, emotionally, physically, you're able to -- although you have an injury, you're able to work on other strengths and weaknesses of your body.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: To anybody, I would say don't chase the points and don't chase the money. Take your time and take the break when you feel burnt out or any kind of a niggly injury. Better take too much time than not enough. On the other hand, it's going to be a big payoff.

And the freshness that comes with it is, you know, you can see it, and the maturity. Look at Roger Federer. If he hadn't taken that time off, he would not have been doing what he did this year.

Q. Serena having her kid...
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Do you know the name yet?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: It's a Chinese secret (smiling).

Q. I think talking about Australia as a target comeback -- two of you came back from having kids, much slower than that. Azarenka had some obstacles along the way. Do you think Australia is a realistic time frame to come back, three, four months?
KIM CLIJSTERS: To me, it wasn't when I had Jada. It all depends. If you set your mind to it, maybe. Depends how the labor and birth went. I mean, yeah. How your body reacts -- everybody reacts different in those situations. I can't comment on it.


MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Don't look at me. These are all the mothers over there.

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Maybe see her there. I couldn't have done it. Serena is an exception to a lot of rules.

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