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May 15, 2002

Kim Clijsters


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Kim, please.

Q. Congratulations. You played so well. There was almost no match.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, I felt like after I lost in Berlin in the first round, I felt like I really -- I had time to practice and to recover after my long week in Hamburg. So I felt like I was fit again. I was hungry to play tennis. It was good.

Q. How do you feel on these fast courts?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, yeah, I like it. Especially, it's a lot quicker here than it was in Berlin last week. So it's, yeah -- I mean, I enjoy playing on it. And still, like, I can play my own game and I can still move. And so it's good. I like the surface here.

Q. Your father was first a player and then a coach. Do you love soccer as well?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah. When I was younger, I remember in school I was always playing soccer. And even now, like, at the tennis, like just to warm up, I like enjoy playing some tennis, soccer, like over the net with a little tennis ball, sometimes with a soccer ball. But, no, I enjoy playing. It's something different, you know. We have to use our arms all the time, so it's nice to use our legs sometimes as well.

Q. Will you follow the World Championship of soccer?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yes. Of course, yep.

Q. Calcio, they still play that in this country?


Q. I just wanted to know if calcio was still being played.

INTERPRETER: Yes, they do.

KIM CLIJSTERS: We're talking about soccer.

Q. Yeah, I know. I know you have a great team. You'll be all right. How closely do you follow?


Q. How closely do you follow?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I think it's during the French. So I'll be watching a lot of the matches I think. And I think it's nice, you know, to -- during the French Open to have some other things going on so that we can focus on some other sports as well. So it's good.

Q. What do you think about Venus pulling out so late before her match last night?

KIM CLIJSTERS: I was out at dinner, so I had no idea. But, yeah, I mean, you know, we play a lot of tournaments and it's always hard to be ready to play every week. So she obviously wanted to play, because I think she's going for the No. 1 spot. So if she would have been able to play, she would have been there.

Q. After the great results you and Justine had last year, has the interest in tennis in Belgium grown?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, it's been unbelievable. In the clubs and everything, there's so many more members and so many young kids that are trying to play now as well. So it's been really good, yeah. Unbelievable.

Q. Is that satisfying to you that a country that hasn't had too many great women players in its history, that suddenly you and Justine have brought about the revolution?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I always used to look up to Dominique and Sabine, Dominique Van Roost and Sabine Appelmans. And it's great, as soon as they stopped, to have Justine and I like in the Top 10. So it's been -- so they sort of were my role models when I was practicing. And when I was in the tennis school in Belgium, Sabine was always practicing there. And I had some opportunities to be able to practice with her. But it's great, I mean, to see these young kids. I mean, I see so many kids in my club that have the blue bubble, the racquet, and the yellow grip, they're all like into the -- they're trying to do the same thing. It's funny in one way as well.

Q. Did you have the help of Philippe Chatrier and Philippe Washer and Jackie Brichant?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yes. Jackie Brichant, yes. The other one, no.

Q. Jackie Brichant was also a good basketball player.


Q. He scored 23 points against Italy once in Milan.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah, well, I play tennis. I know nothing about basketball - only in America (smiling).

Q. That was back in 1953.

KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, my God. I wasn't even long even born. My mom wasn't even born (laughter).

Q. Who would you say is generally believed to be the most famous sports person in Belgium?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I think Eddie Mercks was so big in Belgium. And even still now, I mean, it's what he did like in the Tour de France and everything, is unbelievable. And Sabine and Dominique were very big in Belgium as well. So we've had some -- we're a small country, but we've had some good sports people.

Q. How would you compare, in terms of if you and Justine were to walk down the street, what is the reaction? Are you very, very well known?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, it's -- it depends. Like when I'm at home and in my town and everything, the people are used to seeing me and they know me. So there it's fine. You know, they see me and they say "hi," but that's all. But if I go to bigger cities like Antwerp or Brussels or if I go to the airport, then it's very like -- everyone looks at you and stares, especially when we arrive at the airport. We've got all the bags, and all the tennis bags and everything. But it's good in one way. And sometimes it can be not as nice in another way, but that comes with the tennis, you know.

Q. As you said about Venus, there's a lot of tennis, and the French Open is in two weeks. How will you prepare for that? Is this tournament too close to that?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I have a week off next week. So, I mean, I'll probably be going to the French a little bit early, to Paris a little bit earlier than usual. And I'll start practicing there. So, for me, I mean, this is good to have some matches because I lost first round in Berlin. So it's good for me to have some matches here, and then to have a few days off before the French starts and then to be there and to get into the atmosphere of another Grand Slam.

Q. Are you more comfortable in English or French?

KIM CLIJSTERS: English. Especially now, I speak more English than Dutch even (smiling).

End of FastScripts….

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