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August 26, 2017

Angelique Kerber

New York, NY, USA

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How does it feel to be back in New York as the defending champion?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I mean, it feels great. When I came here like one week ago and I step on the side, I think a lot of great memories came back.

Yeah, it's a great feeling for sure to being back and to being back here at the US Open, I mean, for me, really special place.

Q. What is so special about the city, obviously besides winning here?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I mean, I love the city. Of course the city is never sleeping. You can do everything here. You can go for shopping, but you have also like quiet places like the Central Park. And for me also, yeah, for my career, it's a special place where everything starts, actually, and it's always something really what I'm looking for when I coming back to New York.

Q. One of the big stories coming into the tournament is the return of Maria Sharapova. What are your thoughts on her being back at a major for the first time in quite a while?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: You know, I mean, I think we will see. She's back, and I think she practiced good the last few weeks, and she's ready to being back.

Yeah, we will see.

Q. What are your feelings about the wildcard being given to her?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: You know, this is not my decision. This is a decision, of course, from the tournament. Yeah, this is all actually I can say, you know.

Q. You said this is a city that never sleeps. I mean, is that sometimes frustrating only because you -- I mean, last night, seemed like you had dinner and catching up with friends. Not all tournaments allow you to do that. Is it hard to focus the week before a tournament?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Actually, no. I think you need to find a way how to use the city, actually. I'm here ready for so many times, and I love it. I mean, you can catch up like friends. You can go somewhere. But of course you have to take the time for yourself and to be focused and ready for the tournament.

I mean, this is the most important thing for me, and this is why I'm here. But still, you have to go somewhere just not thinking too much about tennis and, yeah, find the way, what's the best for you.

Q. Eight women coming to this tournament with a chance to walk out as No. 1 in the end. What's that say about the opportunity that exists not just for the very top players but for the rest of the field?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I think, yeah, it's a situation, I don't know what the situation was like the last few years, I don't think so, but now I think it's more open. I think everybody can, like, a lot of players can be No. 1 after the two weeks, and we will see if it's a new one, if it's a old one. But of course, it's open and everybody, a lot of players have the chance. But also, especially, like in the top 20, top 30, I think it's a lot of movements right now, and, yeah, there are much more opportunity for a lot of players.

Q. You were on court practicing with Benny and Torben. Is he working with the team during tournament or is he back? What's the whole...
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I was speaking with him, like, after Wimbledon, and I know him very well, of course. We practice, like, he works with me like for long time, and then we decide, Okay, I need something new. But Torben is still in my team. But something new, some new voice actually.

Yeah, we decide -- I went to the academy and to Mouratoglou, he is here. I see you.

We went there, and I went there with my team, as well, and it was -- it was great for me to get something new again, and working really hard there.

We decide actually to, yeah, that Benny can help me here, as well, in this tournament. So he is like a part of my team for this tournament.

Q. Simona was just in here talking about how hard it's been for her and how close she's been to No. 1. You sit in what we call rarified air. Not many people have been No. 1. What's it like to be the No. 1 player in the world?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: It's for sure a very great feeling to be No. 1, because this is what you were always dreaming for and you are working a lot to get the spot one day, and to winning big tournaments. I mean, this is what we are doing all the years.

But of course it's not so easy. I mean, you feel then if you are there or you are close there you feel the pressure. Do you feel the pressure from yourself, as well, because you know you are just really close to be there. So it's not so easy to get there, but of course if you are there, it's a feeling what you will never forget and you know you reached it.

Q. So if you could give Simona advice, not that you would, but if you could and you wanted to, what would you tell her about being so close?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I think everybody's different, you know. Everybody is different and everybody is looking different. I mean, some players I think they are just looking and they are really wanted and they are like counting points or whatever.

For me it was just -- I was not thinking too much about the No. 1 spot. It was last year, and it came actually like this. I mean, everybody was talking about this, but I was not putting too much attention on this. I was trying to focusing more on my tennis, what I'm doing good, and then the score, the rankings, they are coming if you are playing good.

Q. Do you feel any extra pressure coming in as the defending champion?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: No. I really -- I'm not feeling the pressure anymore. I mean, for me it's the second time I'm a defending champion, and now I'm more relaxed than I was in Australia. I think now I know what to expect, and I'm here to focusing now not on rankings, not on points or defending or whatever. I'm here to playing match by match and trying to playing good tennis again.

This is what my focus is, and, yeah, just focusing on this tournament. Not looking back what's happened the last few months or weeks. Yeah, it's just, for me, US Open and New York time right now.

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