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May 17, 2002

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: First question for Kim, please.

Q. Two weeks ago you won in Hamburg, beating Venus. Last week Henin won in Berlin defeating Serena. Now you play each other in a semifinal. Does this mean that you are unbeatable and we will see you in Roland Garros, as last year?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, let's hope, yeah. No, but it's great for Belgian tennis. After me winning in Hamburg, Justine winning in Berlin, beating the Williams sisters, it's great for our confidence. Also, you know, I think it was the first time Justine beat Serena, my first time to beat Venus. So I think it's an extra step that we've both made. Here as well, we're both in the semis again. So for Belgian tennis, it's only perfect. It's good.

Q. You always speak that slow?


Q. You always speak that slo? I was terrorized following you. It's fantastic. Go ahead (laughter).

KIM CLIJSTERS: You're a bit slow for me, I didn't understand you very well (smiling).

Q. You already beat Justine twice - once in the semis at Roland Garros, another time in Sydney. Do you think that you will win this time too, as you already won twice? And do you have special memories of these two matches, something special that allowed you to win?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, like I just tried to play my own game. And the matches, I played her in Sydney, and at the Australian Open I played her as well. But I lost after the French Open. Where she was favorite on the clay, I lost to her. Where I was favorite on grass in Rosmalen. So you never know. I mean, we're both good players. And, you never know. It's a completely different tournament. We haven't played each other for a while. So it's, yeah, I'm looking forward to play her. It's been a while, so...

Q. You were very good friends before. Are you still very good friends? Do you still go out together in the evening?

KIM CLIJSTERS: No, it's not -- like I know her very well. We started traveling when I was 11, 12, you know. I always shared rooms with her. So it's helped my French a lot. No, but like I still get along better with her than with other players, of course, because I know her a lot better and I know more about her. But it's not that we go out together. But, you know --.

Q. Never?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Also when we're in Belgium, she lives - I don't know - about two, two and a half hours away. We practice in different parts. I see her more on the tour than actually in Belgium. But I get along well with her. Doing Fed Cups and everything, it's really nice. Then actually we have the time to do things as a team. It's more individual. We both have our own coaches, we have boyfriends, so it's different.

Q. You were saying that you have different boyfriends?


Q. Were you telling us that you have different boyfriends?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Lucky, yes (laughter). Otherwise...

Q. Just wanted to check it, just to be sure.

KIM CLIJSTERS: (Smiling). Maybe I speak a little bit quick, but I think you're asking a bit silly questions.

Q. You should play Fed Cup against Italy. Are you sure that yourself and Henin are going to play?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, it's hard to say because for me, you know, like it's hard for me to tell already. The first thing is my shoulder, because I don't know how it's going to hold up. But the way it feels now, you know, I'll be there. But then there's this other problem where it's the weekend before Stanford. And I won Stanford last year, so I have to defend my title there. So it's gonna be tough. I'll play Saturday, Sunday. And then Tuesday, Wednesday I have to play in Stanford. And I've got lots of problems with jet lag. So I need a little bit time. But I'll see, you know... I'll try.

Q. Your match today, you got off to a flying start against an accomplished clay court player. Any reason for that? Was it your good form, or her loose play?

KIM CLIJSTERS: It was my first -- the first time that I played on center court and I really wanted to -- I practiced this morning and I had a good feeling. Also when I was warming up I felt good. And I think against Sandrine, it's -- I think it's important to show that you're there every point, that you're there from the beginning until the end. Because if you let her come in the match, then she'll start playing better. So also at 5-3 in the second set, I really felt that I wanted to win that game. Otherwise, you never know. If it gets to 5-4, add a few matchpoints, you never know. It can turn the match around. But I felt like I had to, you know, focus and try every point. Even if she was 40-love up, I still like tried to get back.

Q. When you talk to Justine, you speak French, Flemish, English?

KIM CLIJSTERS: French. French.

Q. Is she able to speak Flemish or no?

KIM CLIJSTERS: A little bit. But I think it's, I don't know, it helps me a lot with my French. So I prefer to speak French.

Q. You say you've been on the road together since you were age 11?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Twelve, yeah.

Q. Eleven, twelve. You roomed together. That certainly would have been an opportunity to get on each other's nerves, wouldn't it?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, we were very young. And, you know, we were practicing together at the tournaments. And we had good fun. You know, I, at that time, I wasn't speaking a lot of French so it's not that we had big conversations or something in the room. But, no, but it's helped me a lot. And it's always nice to be able to share the room. Like when you're 11 and 12 and you have to travel by yourself, be in the rooms by yourself, it's maybe a little bit tougher when you're by yourself. So it was good sort of to have -- to be together and to grow up together.

Q. Yet you've always been opponents during this time?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah. But that's -- I mean, I think I'm pretty good at it. As soon as I come on the court, I look at myself and I try not to focus on my opponent. But as soon as I come off the court, you know, she's Justine and then I'll talk to her. But as soon as -- I think that's what we have very well. Like we're rivals on the court, but off the court we're friends, so...

Q. Would you say that you were - not physically, in the stands - but that you were cheerleaders for each other? You want each other to win, even if it means playing each other?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, yeah. Of course. I mean, you know, I get along with a lot of players, so it's not that I'm like going against one or going for one. But I, of course, you know, for Belgium and to see us have good results, it's great for Belgian tennis. Also last year when we played the French and everything, like in the semis, it's bad luck that one of us has -- have to lose. But it was great for Belgian tennis. Like I said, we grew up for such a long time, I know her so much better than other players. So of course. She's had so many things already in her life, so it's great for her as well to have good results and to be on the top.

Q. Who won the first match when you were kids? Do you remember?


Q. And also I wanted to know... Well, that's it.

KIM CLIJSTERS: (Laughing). Thank you.

Q. Do you remember what tournament it was?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. I played her, I think -- I don't know. Do you know? It's the Belgian press, they might know. I don't know. I remember... I played her once at an under-14 tournament (inaudible) and lost. But then I also played her I think once at the Belgium Championships or the Tournament of the Hope, it's called, in Belgium and won. So I don't know which one was first or which one was... It's a long time ago.

Q. You would have been 11?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah. Maybe. I don't know, 12, 13. I don't know.

Q. So is it safe to say you split your first two meetings?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, yeah.

Q. Between you two, who was more optimistic at the beginning of their career? Who thought they'd become a future champion, if one had better chances to become strong or not?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I have no idea. You're asking tough questions. I don't know. I think -- I don't know. It's something that you have to ask both of us. I don't know.

Q. I ask you.

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. I cannot answer for her. I don't know.

Q. Were you convinced that you would have become a champion?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, no. Not at all. No. You just play tennis. Like it starts at the local tournaments in Belgium, then you --.

Q. When did you start to believe in yourself?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Today (laughing). No. No, no. No, but it's every step that you have to go through in a career. And you start playing with like the local tournaments in your little town. Then you win one, then you go next. Then you play the Belgium tournaments. Then you get a wildcard into a junior event or an under-14 event and you win one of those. Then you get a wildcard into a 10,000, and you win one of those. Then your ranking gets higher, and then I'm sitting here.

Q. Belgium has two players in the semifinals. Italy didn't have one in the quarterfinals. Could you give some advice?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know (laughing). Well, of course, you've got good players. I mean, Silvia is a very good player, and Francesca Schiavone. You have very good, tough players. Maybe their best surface is clay. But, yeah, Justine and I, we're still young. Farina, she's also had great results. But I heard that was the first time she made the third round here in, like a few -- but, yeah, so, you know, it's -- I don't know. It's hard. Like I didn't -- it's hard for me to give tips because I just did whatever I wanted to do in my career so...

Q. Was your first title your hometown? Was that the first tournament you won?

KIM CLIJSTERS: It's not a hometown. It's in the province I live.

Q. A provincial tournament?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, in the province where I live. It just starts with like a small -- or a club tournament or whatever.

Q. Was that your first championship, a provincial championship?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I think so.

Q. What age?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I have no idea (laughing). I'm sorry. I have no idea.

End of FastScripts….

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