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August 31, 1997

Monica Seles

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. Monica, you looked like your old self in the second and third set. Did it feel that way?

MONICA SELES: Not that far, but I would say I definitely woke up. The first set was pretty flat, but also Mary was playing some great tennis. The second set I said, "Just try to stay with her and take it a point at a time." I think as the match progressed, it felt better and better.

Q. Monica, in your former life, you crushed people two and one almost all the time. How much of an adjustment has it been for you to learn to be down a set or to lose a lead and lose a couple of games? Is that part of the experience as a player, coming to grips with that?

MONICA SELES: I think the hardest thing is when you lose to a player you used to beat before, a couple of them. Mary, even before the stabbing, had some very close matches. Lots of times down match point, still pulled out the match. I had trouble with her even before. But that has been probably, I had to learn if one thing is not going to back fall on a couple of other things in my game, I'm still trying to learn that.

Q. Monica, like five of the times you've beaten her, they've all been very close. Has there been some sort of common thing in each of those real close wins?

MONICA SELES: Well, I lost to her a very close one in Rome. I was up 6-3 in both tiebreak sets. At the French, I played very well the key points there also. So that has been a very nice feeling. Before, I just remember we had some close matches. But Mary is very aggressive style of player. She plays me, she has nothing to lose, so usually you free yourself up and the strokes start coming in. She has so much power. I thought she served really well today also.

Q. Monica, Venus was in this room a few minutes ago and she said it's impossible to win on the women's Tour by hitting the balls hard. Are you doing something wrong or is Venus maybe wrong?

MONICA SELES: I don't know. I think that's what Venus is doing, she hitting the ball hard.

Q. She said she's changing, not hitting every ball hard. Mixing it up. I get the feeling you hit every one hard.

MONICA SELES: Just saw Venus today play and she was hitting everything hard (laughter). It's hard for me to say. I think the one that is mixing it up the most up is still Martina.

Q. Monica, did you ever get a chance to meet Princess Di?

MONICA SELES: No. The only time I saw her was this year at the club where we both practiced during Wimbledon.

Q. And can you relate at all to some of the paparazzi problems that she had?

MONICA SELES: I don't think any of us can relate, I mean, the level she had. But I do think a few of us players, like the first time I won the French Open in 1990, like two people on the motorbike followed me. They were curious where I was going to celebrate. They hit the car. That was the closest I've come to anything like that. Otherwise, no. But it's just a terrible, tragic thing. To all the other people who were in the car, too.

Q. They hit the car you were driving?

MONICA SELES: They hit the car by accident, I think. They were two motorbikes. We wanted to lose them. At that point, I don't know why they were -- what was going on. We stopped. Suddenly he hit it on the right side.

Q. A huge match today. How did you deal with such terrible news?

MONICA SELES: Well, I just learned about it this morning. I was just in total shock, as everybody. I mean, gosh. You could feel it when you walked into the locker room, too. The TV was on that program, not on the matches. I mean, it's really a shock to all of us.

Q. Monica, earlier in the summer you had a real hard time, a real stretch where you weren't closing out matches. You were up like 5-2. What's happened? You seem to have built your confidence back up or at least you are able to impose your will?

MONICA SELES: I feel I stayed more focused, even 5-2 up. Like today I was 5-2 up in the first set, down 40-15, before I would have just given that game I way. Now I say no, I'm going to take it point by point. I think those are the little changes compared to months ago.

Q. You said you watched Venus Williams play today. What were your other impressions of her game, her poise, any other thoughts of the way she plays?

MONICA SELES: I was watching a lot in and out. I was trying to get ready for my match. The match was going really fast. She has a great serve, good groundstrokes, and obviously she's a great athlete. I mean, that is one of her biggest attributes.

Q. What about the way she handles herself? Anything that stands out?

MONICA SELES: No, huh-uh.

Q. As someone who has been a No. 1 player, does it bother you that she is making statements about her ability before she's had those experiences on the court?

MONICA SELES: I mean, she's 17. Time will tell. If she's going to be No. 1, she'll be No. 1. I mean, you know, she definitely has the potential. But the No. 1 player right now is Martina and you have to respect that.

Q. Have you talked to Venus at all? Does she fit in well in the locker room?

MONICA SELES: I said once to Venus, "Hi." She didn't say it back. They seem to be going all the time with her sister. That's what family is for. Her mom, too. They stay in their own little separate group.

Q. Monica, was that your dog in the players's box?


Q. Does he or she go to a lot of matches?

MONICA SELES: It's a she. I got her as a surprise after the French. She broke her leg, so I couldn't take her to England. So I just had her now for ten days. It's a she. It's a little Yorkie. My other dog died. It's nice to have somebody at least when you come home.

Q. What is her name?


Q. Monica, one way of gauging your confidence and how you're playing is how much you move forward or stay up on the court, not necessarily go up to the net, but move forward.

MONICA SELES: Definitely. I felt if I could stay aggressive, I would be doing very well. Today I thought I was going to start out being aggressive. A couple times I missed the shot; I became very tentative. I had a hard time finding my rhythm. Those are times I need to hang in there. Hopefully as the match progresses, I can get back that aggressive style of play.

Q. Is your aggressiveness approaching what it used to be?

MONICA SELES: It's so hard to say, looking back at that time. Obviously the level I played was very different at that point. But that's the level hopefully I'll get back and maybe even better.

Q. Has your arm gotten all better? Do you still have problems?

MONICA SELES: I have no problems for the past year since last December at all. So I'm very happy about that.

Q. Are you sometimes surprised by not necessarily the player you were, but how you thought about yourself as a player then? I mean, are you trying to figure out how you felt then and so forth, or that maybe you weren't thinking, you were just playing?

MONICA SELES: I pretty much wasn't thinking. I don't think I would have started thinking if somebody wouldn't have stabbed me in the back sitting on the tennis court during a tennis match. I still believe I have the same mind set as I had at that time. But once somebody does that, they take your feeling of security away. I had to deal with that. It's still an ongoing issue. But otherwise, I feel, you know, just every day try to be more and more focused, at least during the matches.

Q. A lot of players who go on to win a Grand Slam talk about a feeling of destiny, they were on a roll. Are you beginning to get any of those feelings now or is that a little more one match at a time?

MONICA SELES: I don't know. I really think in tennis and everything, it's just match at a time, day-to-day. I think what happened today also to Princess Diana, you can never take a day for granted. One thing can change the rest of your life. So as long as I love to play tennis, I love the practices, I'm really happy in that term. Off the court, also the same things. But I do believe in balance. For me, it would not be worth for me to be the No. 1 ranked player and have no life outside. I would never want to do that. Or the other way around.

Q. Joannette Kruger and Venus were both talking this morning about how important confidence is to your on-court game. Can you talk about that, where you are in that area right now?

MONICA SELES: I can't see everyone out on court really feeling confident, even when I was in the prime, '91, '92, I didn't go out there, "I'm going to win this match" when I stepped on court. You always try to take it a point at a time. A lot of players are not like that. A lot of them have more confidence when they go out. But that's just not my personality, so. Sometimes that has helped me, but sometimes I've been at a disadvantage because of that.

End of FastScripts….

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