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April 27, 2002

Billie Jean King


THE MODERATOR: Monica will address questions about the match. Billie Jean will address anything else related to the players' situation. Questions, please.

Q. Monica, you looked like you were pretty much struggling all day. Just talk a little bit about how you were feeling and not being able to get into the match like you normally would want to.

MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely I was really struggling, although I had my chances - at least in that first set - to win it. But nothing seemed to be going my way. Making a lot of errors. And Barbara played really well. She didn't give me too many free points, and that was the story of it.

Q. Was your serve giving you the most problems? It seemed like you weren't getting your normal pace or movement.

MONICA SELES: Yeah. I mean, I think I was just off everywhere. My serve definitely was one that really hurt me, that I didn't hold my service game. I was struggling, giving a lot of free points away on it. But, you know, it was just an accumulation of, I guess, a lot of things.

Q. Were you surprised at her level?

MONICA SELES: No, I played her a couple of years ago at the French. I think 6-4, 7-5 or 7-6. I knew coming in it would be a tough match. But I definitely didn't expect to lose today's match, that's for sure.

Q. Are you still feeling any of the effects of the sickness you had in Charleston?

MONICA SELES: I don't think so. The last two weeks I definitely have not been playing well. It's been a struggle. But I practiced really well this week. I thought I would have played much better than I did today. But I got to get through and just keep working as hard as I've been.

Q. Monica, how disappointing is it knowing coming in today that the team sort of needed your victory to even things up? Did you feel a little bit of extra pressure?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely. I mean, it was a tough situation to be in today. It's been a very long and difficult week. But I think, you know, the team will get through it. And there are some weeks that are like this, it's very unfortunate, you know. And I probably felt a lot of pressure out there, but that's a lesson learned for me also.

Q. Monica, how difficult will the hole be tomorrow to dig out of?

MONICA SELES: It's definitely a tough hole, so we'll just have to go one match at a time. And I think Meghann plays Barbara tomorrow first. So, you know... But just have to go for it. (Inaudible) I don't know myself.

Q. Did you feel like something was bothering you? You felt like your overall game just wouldn't kick in for you. But was there anything with your movement? Was your foot bothering you?

MONICA SELES: No, nothing. I mean, I felt healthy out there really. Just one of those days when everything is off, you know, timing here and there. And the match flies by fast.

Q. What kind of went on when you had the chance to win a set in the first set? Can you talk about those points.

MONICA SELES: Yeah, I just tightened up way too much. I really wanted to, you know, get the set over there. And, you know, I found more pressure than I probably should have. I made some errors. I think she hit some great shots there herself to win, and that was it.

Q. Does a loss in Fed Cup hurt as much as a loss, say, in a Grand Slam or another tournament?

MONICA SELES: Each loss is very difficult to take. Each loss is different. But matches when you're not playing well and struggling are even harder than when you get out there and play a great match. (Inaudible) it depends.

Q. Was there one part of Barbara's game that surprised you?

MONICA SELES: She was just really a lot more consistent than I thought today. She was hitting her serve, both - her ground strokes, very consistently. Didn't make too many errors.

Q. How about the second set, did her game move up a level?

MONICA SELES: I think hers moved up a level, mine moved up -- down a notch. And a combination of that, she just played those key points a lot better and went for it more than I did.

Q. Billie Jean, how tough of a decision was it yesterday, knowing that it was a bit of a risk for the team that something like this could happen, you'd be down 2-0?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Well, since I've known Jennifer and her family since she was 12, you can imagine how tough it was for me. But, more importantly, I have to consider the team. And Monica, Meghann and Lisa have just been unbelievable all week. I can't say enough about them - as people and as players and how they've stayed together as a team. It's just unfortunate. It's never easy to make a decision like that, but it had to be done.

Q. When you dismissed Jennifer, did she say anything about not wanting to play Fed Cup again? Like, say if we were to go on to win this tie, the quarterfinals, would you select her for the team?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Well, she's already signed -- we have a piece of paper at the beginning of the year where they sign if they're interested in any of the ties at all - first, second or third, whatever. So we kind of anticipate, and also we don't have to go and ask somebody if they already have told us no. She already put down no for -- if we got to July or October 28th. So I don't have to worry about it.

Q. Billie Jean, how did it get to the point after all week that it culminated in her being dismissed yesterday? Was there no way to nip it in the bud?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: No, there was no way.

Q. Was it more Jennifer, or was it Stefano asserting his will --?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: I'm sure it was a combination. But the fact is I stated the rules on Monday, and they weren't adhered to. That's more than once - a lot more than once. So it wasn't fair to the team. It's just not fair to the team.

Q. Monica, how do you feel about the situation?

MONICA SELES: I just feel the right decision was made. I mean, it was just, I think -- I have my coach here and I understood the rules. The rules were explained to me. I obliged. We're all here as a team and we need to focus on our tennis, not the distractions (inaudible). It's just becoming too much. This week is just really difficult for all of us.

Q. Billie Jean, did she ask you for additional practice? If she had come to you yesterday and said, "Billie Jean, I feel like I need additional practice," would you have provided that to her?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Absolutely. I went out and asked her. Anything our players want - we have two hitting partners. We actually have had three young people from the Gold Medal Camp, which has been fantastic for them. These are our future Fed Cup and Davis Cup players. So it's been fantastic. We'll do whatever it takes for a player. And I always ask the players; I will oblige them.

Q. How would you rate your decision yesterday compared to other captaining decisions? Is it the toughest you've had to make?


Q. And on a level compared to others?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: I can't. Current things always are worse anyway.

Q. Was it an immediate decision, or something you were thinking about over the days?


Q. It's Jennifer's position that she didn't actually break any rules because she never practiced. She never had that second practice. I mean, is there something specifically that she did?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: I am not going to get into details right now, but she definitely was going to practice with her father, a high school player, here at Olde Providence on the back court.

Q. What is the thinking, Billie Jean, behind not allowing the players to have practices outside the team practices?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: This is a week of team, okay. We provide unbelievable hitting partners. We have everybody here. Otherwise, we could have Monica and Mike on this court, then we have Stefano and Jennifer on this court, and we can have Shaughnessy and her coach on that court. Then we can just not have a team. It's very simple.

Q. But if the team does their team practice, which I gather happened yesterday, and any of the players did want to do their own private practice, how does that inhibit the team? What's the thinking?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: It's not team. I want -- the team has to be together. It's like in football, basketball, any other sport. This is the way you do it - for this week. It's not every week. Then go back with your coaches. But when we're together, this is the deal.

Q. Billie Jean, she said that she was never completely explained the rules; however, she did play in 2000 in the final. Have the rules changed?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Yes. They have changed. And they were explained many times.

Q. Why were the rules changed?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Rules were changed because things have changed in the last two years.

Q. Even more of a team concept?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: No. The coaches -- okay, let me just explain one thing. The players and the coaches have never practiced - ever - in Fed Cup by themselves during the week - ever. Okay?

Q. How's Meghann feeling about tomorrow, now that she'll be playing?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Well, I'm going to be asking her in a meeting later today. But I think as a rookie she's looking forward to it. She's been a great team player, as Monica and Lisa have been, and I think more than anything this team has gone through a lot and they've stuck it out together. I think she'll just give it everything she's got. She is No. 12 in the world. She's been in the Top 10. Believe me, she can play. If she's going to be a future champion, then she's going to relish this opportunity.

End of FastScriptsâ?¦.

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