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March 8, 2019

Simona Halep

Indian Wells, California

S. HALEP/B. Strycova

6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about that match? It started under one set of conditions, and finished under a second. You must be very relieved to get it done in two.
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, it was pretty difficult in the end. We got cold, both of us. I saw she put also the top.

It was not easy to play, but I felt good. Actually, for both of us were tough conditions, so I didn't think that much about it.

I think I played good tennis today and, for the first match here, I'm happy about it.

Q. Are the nerves still the same when you come back to a tournament like this, a bigger tournament? She's not an easy opponent.
SIMONA HALEP: I know, yeah, I know she's not easy.

The nerves were positive nerves. I don't feel any more negative nerves. I just think -- I think I improved in that direction. I feel much relaxed when I go to the court.

Today I really was focused on what I have to do, and I knew how to play against her. We played so many times.

I knew that I have to work for the match, that I have to be ready to run. So I think it was good.

Q. But in terms of a couple of players have mentioned this tournament is an interesting one, because, yeah, slams are two weeks and it's a lot of pressure and things, but it seems like a lot of the players say there is a lot more to do off the court before the tournament, you know, at this tournament, and that can take a toll on the players. Do you feel that way at all?
SIMONA HALEP: I don't know what to say. I feel like it's the same everywhere. We have almost two weeks here, so it's pretty similar.

I'm not thinking about these things. I just take every tournament the same, important, so I don't -- now, in this moment, in the last year, as well, I didn't make a difference between a Grand Slam and the big tournament, and so every tournament is the same. I try to focus exactly the same.

Q. Today's International Women's Day. I'm curious for you, coming from Romania, and I don't know anything about the country, really --
SIMONA HALEP: It's very big day.

Q. Is it a big day?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, for us, it's a big day.

Q. Why?
SIMONA HALEP: I don't know. Everyone is celebrating and -- everyone, the women (smiling), and everyone is going out.

Actually, I ordered some flowers for my mom. I send her. So it's a big thing in Romania. And every year I'm here, so I'm a little bit sad that I cannot celebrate, but I will have time after.

Q. As a professional female athlete, what are some of the biggest, I guess, most important decisions that you have had to make in kind of pursuit of this career that you think are very specific to being a female professional athlete which is different than being a male professional athlete?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, yeah. I think the decisions are maybe similar, man and woman, when you want to go to be a professional athlete.

For me, the most important decision was when I was 16. I moved from my hometown to Bucharest, alone, without the family, to play tennis because I knew that in Constanta I have no future. There were not many players to practice with, coaches as well, so I moved to Bucharest. Was not easy at that time, but was maybe the most important thing that I did.

Q. I know you're obviously one of if not "the" -- well, Romanians tell me this, that you are "the" biggest sportsperson in Romania right now, male or female. But when it comes to being a role model for young girls, what do you think is kind of your role in that, and what do you want them to see when they see you?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, I think they can see and they can believe that a woman can do anything in this world. And now we are more independent, and we can achieve anything. We can be a successful woman and, you know, there is no limit. So we don't have to think that only men can do these big things. We also, women, can do anything in this world.

So I think they could take from my career this one: That if you never give up, you can achieve anything.

Q. Did you believe that when you were younger?
SIMONA HALEP: Not really, because I didn't have people around me to tell me this. But I had big support from my family, and they always told me that I'm strong enough to do big things.

But from someone else, no.

Q. This tournament allows you to choose your walkout music to the stadium.
SIMONA HALEP: You saw that?

Q. What do you think about that and why did you choose the song that you chose?
SIMONA HALEP: I like the songs before the matches. Sometimes I listen to it and motivates me. So when they ask me, I chose it, and today I was really smiling in my head when I heard it. It was nice, nice moment.

Q. Is that unique to this tournament or do other tournaments ask you...
SIMONA HALEP: I think they ask us, few tournaments, but not every tournament. Yeah.

Q. What was the song?
SIMONA HALEP: Eye of the Tiger. You don't know this?

Q. I know now. I was watching on mute.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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