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August 27, 1997

Monica Seles

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. How are you feeling?

MONICA SELES: I feel okay. I still have the cold, but I don't have the temperature for the past three or four days, so that has been really nice. I just want to get rid of it fully so I can feel better when I am running out there.

Q. Monica, you have played in that stadium when there was the march in with the cameras and Mayor Dinkins and all that fuss and bother. Did it feel different either walking in or playing out there tonight now that it is not the show court?

MONICA SELES: It felt different, but Dinkins was still there tonight. (laughter). But, it just felt a little bit eery, but also at the same time, it felt like you are home a little bit too, because that has been my home since 1989 there. But, I love both stadiums. I am really happy on either court that I get to play.

Q. Why "Eery," just because it is emptier?

MONICA SELES: It is just such a different feeling, because people can move around much more than before and they can come down lower. And just knowing that there is another stadium. It is not the same. Like today, before the match, I went over there and changed in those lockerrooms and I remembered all the moments and nervousness before some of the big matches. And now, it was so quiet, nobody was there.

Q. You change in the old lockerroom?


Q. Why?

MONICA SELES: I used to always change there. So I just said if I am playing on the old court, I am going to change there.

Q. There was nobody else?

MONICA SELES: Nobody. It was nice.

Q. Actually you will probably start a trend because, people are bothered by the cramped lockerrooms. You will probably have people going back.

MONICA SELES: Yeah, I just like it there.

Q. Was that because you practiced?

MONICA SELES: I practiced out at the stadium for ten minutes and then this morning too, I mean, on court number 2.

Q. You changed over in the old lockerroom where you changed last year, right?

MONICA SELES: Yes. I change always in that lockerroom -- it is part of Court No. 2.

Q. Grandstand?

MONICA SELES: Yes. Right there, two lockerrooms.

Q. Right underneath the stands?


Q. Was it windy out there tonight.

MONICA SELES: Very windy.

Q. How did it feel --

MONICA SELES: I never missed the ball in my entire career, so that was the first for me. It was really windy, hard to get your timing. I was struggling with that a little bit. I didn't have too many winners today so I have to adjust to it better.

Q. Did you see anything in Tara that you can tell us about her as a player in the future?

MONICA SELES: She has very strong groundstrokes and she was attacking every ball. Obviously it is hard to play a player who you have never seen play, so I have relied on what I have heard from different people. I kind of knew what to expect, kind of started off pretty flat. We had- like 4 points there that were really great and that one point was, wow. I think she -- everything is good. If she keeps improving she could be a very good player.

Q. Monica, do you feel playing all those tournaments in the last couple of months have really got you ready for the U.S. Open?

MONICA SELES: I think what it has done is made me a little bit more focused, because before San Francisco, I didn't have regular practices and I really had to have it because I knew I would play a match and I wanted to be the best for that night match -- for that day match. So I really was practicing everyday and that is the most consistent tennis I had in quite sometime. So that has helped a lot.

Q. It looks as if you really have played yourself into good physical shape. Do you feel that way?

MONICA SELES: Yeah. I have been working on that also. So I definitely -- I feel really good out there. I can't say I feel tired from all those weeks; I think it is more -- a little bit mentally that I was worried more than physically.

Q. When was the last time you felt like you had your game and physically, sort of, in this kind of shape? Has it been awhile?

MONICA SELES: Oh, I would probably have to say the 1993 Australian Open for sure going back.

Q. If memory serves me, in the past, during your off hours, you would go to the Meadowlands, be on the sidelines?

MONICA SELES: Still do tons of stuff. Went to Broadway shows. So, I still go out into the city. I have a couple of friends that I know, so I had some quiet dinners with them which is really nice. But I got in Saturday night. So I didn't have that much time. And during my match days, I don't do that many things. But, I will keep doing them. I am not playing doubles, so it is a little bit easier schedule. I do go off to Japan right after the U.S. Open, so I am just going to pace myself. But there are a lot of fun events that are coming up. I will go, as usual.

Q. Any shows as yet?

MONICA SELES: Broadway shows?

Q. Yeah.

MONICA SELES: Yeah, I want to see Rent. That is on my high list. Just want to wait when I have a little bit more knowledge of when I am going to play my matches.

Q. When you were done playing, you probably signed 100 autographs?

MONICA SELES: Yeah. Signed a lot.

Q. Why do you feel obligated to do that for the fans, whereas most of the other people just book out of there after playing?

MONICA SELES: I just remember when I was a kid and when a couple like the Ping-Pong players signed autographs, it just stayed with me, and I think if they are kids, I always love to sign it. Because, you know, they take it home and maybe it is going to inspire them to play tennis or work harder, and things like that. I was in their shoes once and why not.

Q. You mentioned enjoying the culture of New York. Can you walk around the city pretty freely without being bothered?

MONICA SELES: Yesterday when I was walking some people would stop and say "Oh, good going Monica, great match last night." But if they do that they just say it and you keep walking, they keep walking. So, they are very friendly in restaurants too that we went to. So I love the city. I always loved it.

Q. Sandrine Testud beat Iva Majoli today, and she is a player that, of course, beat you at Wimbledon. Can you describe how far her game has come along, and she is in your half of the bracket; what sort of threat do you think she is here?

MONICA SELES: Well, I think she has improved a lot. I played her last year here, and scorewise, it doesn't look like it was much of a match, but it was a very tough match. But, I think she lost some weight; mentally she is much better; and she is feeling the ball a lot better than before. And she had a couple of wins, so that gave her a lot of confidence. She is playing some great tennis. I mean, throughout the year.

Q. Monica, early on, you know, at Wimbledon, you know, you had the 5-2 lead. I think you had a string of those leading up to that where you let it go. Do you feel like you have gotten past that, you have worked that out, do you feel stronger in terms of concentration?

MONICA SELES: Pretty much, yeah. I really felt that, yeah. I think in these few -- this past few weeks have helped a lot in those terms that I feel I can close out the matches and I think maybe that is what was missing, more match play, and I got that and I got more into my groove and remembered in the past what it takes to try to at least hold out a match.

Q. Of course you missed so many Grand Slams and now Steffi is missing some. Do you miss the rivalry with Steffi?

MONICA SELES: I just wish that we could have continued at that point when I was already there and we were close in '93 and gone. Because I was always loving to play the Grand Slams. But, then we stopped it. Now there are a lot more players. Martina is the one right now. It is not Steffi. It is not Monica at this point. So, I think time will tell. It will be pretty curious to see how Steffi will play next time. I am sure she is going to do truly well. I don't think Steffi would come back otherwise and to see Martina again, so I think it will be a great season 1998. Also, we have a lot of other players who are a lot closer, which, before Steffi and I, would just win the first round 6-Love, 6-1 which I don't think that is the case anymore.

Q. Given that, is it possible or does it seem to you even with all that you have accomplished that you could be seen as sneaking up to, you know, this year at this Open by winning it or getting to the final; there has been so much attention placed on Martina and all of her success?

MONICA SELES: Well, she has won two out of the three Grand Slams and almost the third one she would be going for the Grand Slam year fully. So I think she totally deserves it. In my case I think it is really up to me more; that I need to focus more on my tennis game. I have to decide what I kind of want to do. And be injury free. It is not going to come overnight. But as long as I love to play and as long as I am willing to put in the work and also the mental part of it, I am happy.

Q. It is not great that you got sick, but you must be feeling pretty good about playing as well as you are even though you are not 100%?

MONICA SELES: I was disappointed to have to pull out of Atlanta as always because I felt I was playing some great tennis. It is nice to keep that going. But I was never worried that I would not be ready for the Open. When they said, "Would you like to play Monday night, would that be okay," I really wanted to play that night just because I think ten years down from that night, it is going to stay with me, it was worth it. It is nice to have days off. I pulled out of doubles. I was supposed to play. I felt I will -- I would be -- it is a little bit too much. Tomorrow I have a day off. I think I should be okay.

Q. Do you have any residue of injuries at all at this point or are you feeling pretty much 100%?

MONICA SELES: I really haven't been injured since I broke my finger in -- against Martina. (laughter).

Q. Now that it sunk in a day or two, that experience at the dedication ceremony, what kind of moment was that for you and what kind of pride do you take from that since you were in that great group of champs?

MONICA SELES: I look back at the video that I made. Wow, it is one of those nights. It is hard to explain, but to see all these other players growing up, you watch them on TV and they are all here, all of them in a row, one after the other. And, then I went up to the president of boxing, got to talk to a couple of them. And, it was really fun to see them just as human beings in regular street clothes. Like I was thinking basketball players, you can tell immediately because of their height and everything that they are basketball players. But, tennis players like Lendl, Stefan, just pass up as regular guys. I thought it was pretty cool.

Q. Who did you end up talking to?

MONICA SELES: I talked a lot to Boris. A little bit to Edberg. And to Martina.

Q. You told us about some of the comments that were made. Were there any comments that any of them made that would be of interest?

MONICA SELES: They were all very positive. Each one John Newcombe made some fun ones. Ilie Nastase is always -- (giggles). And, I had a great time talking to Gaby. It was nice to see her. I haven't seen her in a while.

Q. You talked about your focus increasing. Has playing been more fun during that time? Are you enjoying it to that same extra level?

MONICA SELES: Well, it is not the same and that is -- sometimes it is -- it was hard for me to realize that some things are not the same, but you got to go with it. But, it is definitely more fun when you keep winning than when you are losing. And, losses like at Wimbledon are very hard to take. But you always learn from them. So, I always had fun. I don't think I would have played in the tournaments if I wouldn't have.

Q. Do you feel ready and eager to challenge Martina?

MONICA SELES: I really I mean, I played Martina a lot of times this year, probably more than a lot of other players. But, I hate to think that she is the one because I have a lot of trouble against the other players too, so it is such a long way. But she doesn't seem to have too many challenges this year, really, that is for sure.

Q. Did the loss against Sandrine sort of, I don't know, wake you up or, you know, and make you think, okay, I have got to do something or really had you already made a commitment?

MONICA SELES: I kind of -- I really don't think -- the worst -- one of the worst weeks of my tennis life has been in Eastbourne, I really wasn't happy. I think that attitude got me into Wimbledon and all that and the rain didn't help. Just the whole European trip has been really hard, even the French. After Wimbledon I just said take some time off after Wimbledon and see what you want to do because you can't doubt yourself. That is really hard on the tennis court. You have got to be 100%. Even when you are 100%, you are still going to lose, but you can't be in and out. That is really tough to do that.

Q. You mentioned focus. You have obviously interests in a sport theme restaurant and with Nike. Does that take away that concentration?

MONICA SELES: No, never. That has never been the case, no.

Q. What kind of music are you listening to and are you still a Jimmy Hendrix fan?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, I still Love it. I wish I could learn to play the guitar, but I had no success with it so I kind of quit. I like top 40, but nowadays the change is so fast, it is hard to keep up.

Q. When you talk to Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg, what do you say, what do they say to you?

MONICA SELES: I know Boris quite well and his wife. So I talk to him before for a while. They just say really nice things. Sometimes they feel what I should be doing which is very helpful because they see it from a another angle.

Q. They actually talk about your game?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, my game and my focus and where am I in my life, at what point, which they have been there. They have seen this move that I am going for right now and so it is nice to hear their advice and go home and try to think about it and if it makes sense, then try to really adjust to it.

Q. We never had a chance to ask you. Are you going to miss having Boris around?

MONICA SELES: Oh, yes, definitely, that is for sure. Yeah, I mean, for me it is hardest thing that so many players are leaving. It was really hard when Gaby left. I was really good friends with Kimiko. The lockerroom is not the same. You have so many new players, which is normal. That is just, I don't know, generations, but I don't know now 40 or 50% of the Tour. I am sure I will know them in a few years, but couple of people say that -- I definitely miss them, Boris, for sure and his wife, his whole family. I really love them and Edberg also.

Q. Can you give us one example of a tip, say, or suggestion or a bolstering nudge of some kind that one of them gave you?

MONICA SELES: My theory is -- I don't know if this is good or bad, but when I talk to other players I like to keep it to myself. It is like what Arthur Ashe said -- I just-- I feel uncomfortable sharing it. Sometimes people think I am maybe too obsessed about it, too private. Same thing about my dad and different things, but that is just the way I am. And, you know, I would ask them before if I could share that.

End of FastScripts….

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