August 28, 2001
NEW YORK CITY
MODERATOR: Questions for Kim.
Q. How is the thigh?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's my quads. It's okay. I was still feeling it. The first set was fine, didn't feel anything. But in the second set when I -- when the first set was over, I had a longer break, it was getting a bit cooler, once I stood up, I was feeling it. It was getting a bit tight. Once I was going again, it was feeling better.
Q. Which one?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Right.
Q. Is that a cause for concern during the tournament?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I sort of feel I was compensating a little bit. I wasn't putting like a hundred percent of pressure like on my forehand, I was trying not to do too many like open steps. But still I was feeling better. I've been having a lot of treatment here. I've been putting a lot of ice. I'm feeling better than I did like the day after it happened in New Haven. But I can still feel it. I'm playing with a very, very tight tape. The tape is like pushing on my quads a little bit. That's not going to make it any better. I'm just playing with the tape that I can't like pull the muscle. This is like a concern.
Q. How do you block out the injury, so you don't lose focus?
KIM CLIJSTERS: It's a bit weird. I've never played with a tape like this. You have to sort of get used to it. I was practicing with my tape, trying it. I'm trying to get it loose like before I go on the court. But it's definitely not easy because it sort of restricts your movement a little bit. That's not easy. It's something I have to play with. It's not going to get better in the next like two days. I'll have to keep playing with it and have a lot of treatment.
Q. Do you tell yourself to just ignore it or think of other things?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I'm trying to ignore it. It's hard to ignore it when you still feel it sometimes. I mean, it's not much I can do about it. It's not that I'm not taking any medicines for it or anything. I'm just trying to ignore it.
Q. Is it tougher on you mentally now that people expect more from you, being in the French Open final? Are you feeling that?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, not really. I'm just enjoying myself more. It's great to be like on a first round, to be on Center Court. That's great. That's what I enjoy doing. I mean, I'm not under pressure or anything at all. I'm staying with my feet on the ground, staying very focused for every match I play. I'm not doing anything different than I did when I started playing on the tour. I still have my same habits, my same superstitious little things, yeah. I didn't change anything.
Q. Are you used to looking for yourself on the Center Court list as opposed to the other courts at a Grand Slam?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, not really. This is the first first round that I've played here. Last year I played against Lindsay on the Center Court. It's still like a first round, it's nice for me to be able to play there and get used to it.
Q. What are your superstitions?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I have a few things. I did the same things before the match. At the French Open, I was going to the same restaurants all the time. I think everyone knows it already now. Like I've got a few things that I do, especially before the match and after the match.
Q. If things break right for you, you'll see Venus in the quarters. Have you thought about it?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, no. I mean, I don't think it's the right idea if you're thinking about the quarterfinals already if you're only in the second round. I'm only focusing on my second round right now. I mean, in the Grand Slams, every match is tough. You have to look match per match and see where it ends. I'm not one of the players that is looking forward to the semifinal or quarterfinal. I'm not looking at that.
Q. Can you talk about playing against Venus in general?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, I've never played her before. I mean, I've seen her play a lot. She's definitely having an unbelievable season on the tour. Also last year. She's been playing unbelievable. Especially here, I know she's very motivated to defend her title and to do well and to show the American crowd what she can do. I think she's great for women's tennis. It's great to have her and her sister around, yeah.
Q. When you were injured at the Pilot Pen, you talked to the crowd. What was behind making your gesture to them?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I just feel because like all these people, they were really looking forward to see Lindsay and I play against each other. Also because I beat her in Stanford, I think they were looking forward to a good match. Sort of like it was hard for me just like to go out there and say something to them. I sort of felt it was my like duty to go out there and to say something, say what happened. Like it's easy for the tournament director to go on the court and say that I pulled out because of a muscle injury, but I think it's nicer that it comes from me, that I like tell them what happened exactly.
Q. Movement is a big part of your game, running down balls. Can you win a tournament like this if you're restricted in your running?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Not the way I was feeling in the beginning. I'm feeling a lot better now already. With the tape, I feel like I can slide. That's important for me, that I can slide on the hard court. No, I feel that I can do my movements as well as before. It's just a matter of I don't know if I'm a little bit scared to go all the way on my right side, yeah.
Q. I know you haven't changed since the French Open, but what are the things around your life that have changed in Belgium?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Everything is just a lot more hectic in Belgium. I mean, I've been very busy. So it was great to be able to come to America and cool down a little bit, just relax. I've been enjoying every minute since the French. I mean, it's great. I mean, this is sort of what you play tennis for. I mean, I don't play tennis to become famous or anything. Those are things that you have to learn to handle and that you have to deal with.
Q. What kinds of things in Belgium?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Well, things like getting recognized on the street, getting recognized at the airport and things like this, recognizing when you go shopping. People sort of are looking at you, what you're trying on, all this stuff. There's good things, as well. I mean, like you can do like charity things, things for other people. I think that's what makes it like nice.
Q. Your dad doesn't like to talk too much about tennis, but he certainly knows a lot about being a famous athlete. Has he given you advice?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Definitely. He's been probably my main person in my career. He's always kept the media away from me so that I could do whatever I like. If you start doing a lot of media things, you sort of start like doing things for other people instead of making it enjoyable for yourself. Still I'm here to enjoy myself. I think that's the most important thing. If you don't enjoy yourself, you're not going to have as good results as you have. My dad has been great with that. I mean, he always discusses everything with me, what I want to do, which things I don't want to do. I think that's great, yeah.
Q. What about advice for people on the street, dealing with the public?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Because he's been through the same things. He was a famous person in Belgium. Like he learned of his mistakes. He's sort of telling me the mistakes he did then. I mean, yeah, it's good to have. I think that's an advantage for me to have a dad like that.
Q. Do you remember when you were a kid going places with him and people coming up to him, you being confused?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I remember people asking for autographs. Sometimes now when we go out to dinner or something, people come and ask an autograph of me. They sort of feel sorry for him, so they ask him an autograph, as well (laughter).
Q. When you were a kid, did you understand what they were doing, or he was just your dad?
KIM CLIJSTERS: He was my dad. I know that he was playing soccer. Every Saturday I went to the match. I remember that I had to go to sleep at lunchtime because it was going to be late. Yeah, those are like small things I remember. We've got a lot of videotapes that I remember, things that I remember from videotape. Yeah, it was good fun, yeah.
Q. You've had a great breakthrough at a Grand Slam tournament. Do you think Lleyton feels impatient to do the same, to make a Grand Slam final?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Oh, that's hard to say. I mean, he played semifinals here. Of course, the men's, you've got so many good players. It's so hard for the mens at the moment. Anyone can beat anyone almost. You have so many players that can win the US Open at this moment. It's hard to say. I think Lleyton definitely has a chance to do well here. He showed that last year. So, yeah.
Q. Considering the breakthroughs that you have had this year, as you just acknowledged, your popularity has increased. Can you talk about your own expectations coming into this tournament as compared to '99 or 2000? Do you come here feeling the expectations are higher now?
KIM CLIJSTERS: No, not really. But I'm ready for it. Like I know that happened. I know that's what's going to happen. But I feel that I don't have to put the pressure on myself. Like if I can do that, I could still do the same things. I still feel the same as I did before. I'm not putting any pressure on myself. I know people around me are thinking, "She might meet Venus in the quarterfinals." Those are things I don't think about. It's good for me to focus on my following match. We'll see where it ends.
Q. Were you a little disappointed of your results after Stanford? Did you feel your level fell off a little bit the last month or so?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I definitely didn't play as well as I did in Stanford. Also I played a lot of tournaments there, as well, and I really needed a break. I felt like after I went to Indianapolis for about five days, I didn't play tennis at all, I went to a gym a few times, I felt afterwards I was hungry to play tennis again. I felt I was really motivated. I play with Tom Vanhoudt, the Belgian guy, practiced in Indianapolis once at the end of the week. I was really enjoying myself again. That's what's very important for me. I'm the type of athlete, I put a lot of strength in every match I play, put a lot of energy in my matches. I think it's very important for me to take a few weeks off. I mean, after Wimbledon, I had like four days off and then I played in Belgium. That's not the perfect preparation or the perfect rest before you go to America. But I had to play it because of sponsor agreements and everything. No, I mean, when I won Stanford, I think maybe I shouldn't have played San Diego or LA. I really needed a break there. But it was good to have the break in Indianapolis.
Q. If you play at the level that you did at Stanford, can you beat anyone in this tournament?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't know. It's hard to say. I mean, I really played well against Lindsay there. I didn't play that well in my first match against Cara Black. But I played very well against Lindsay. I know Lindsay definitely didn't play her best tennis. I know all the top players are going to try extra because this is another Grand Slam. They're going to work very hard. They're very motivated in these big tournaments. I know some of the players might be a bit less motivated in the smaller tournaments. But, I mean, I'm motivated here, as well. I'm going to try and we'll see, yeah. Maybe I can. Maybe I can't.
Q. Does your father sort of act as your agent or are you with a corporation?
KIM CLIJSTERS: I don't have any agent. My dad is doing all my financial business. I don't really need an agent at this moment. I really need -- I like to go home and just stay home, do things that I like. I think once you start like working with agents, you have to need a few agreements that you have to do things. As long as I'm by myself and I discuss everything with my dad, if you get an offer from some sponsoring contract, we discuss everything. We'll see how it goes.
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