August 29, 2000
Flushing Meadows, New York
MODERATOR: First question for Lisa, please.
Q. Get the Olympics thing out of the way. What are your feelings?
LISA RAYMOND: My feelings? Well, I think I've pretty much stated how I felt about the decision. But I have to respect it. Obviously, I still feel like I deserved to be on that team. But the arbitrator's decision is what stands. I just have to deal with that decision.
Q. Lindsay this morning said she characterized it that she felt you had been misled, that Billie Jean said she was going to go by the rankings. Is that a fair characterization? Is that basically correct?
LISA RAYMOND: Well, I think, again, it goes without saying that the rules need to be -- I mean, they're very vague. They certainly need to be a lot more black and white than they are. Yeah, I guess you could say I was a little misled. You know, I was misled, but at the same time I feel like as the No. 1 doubles player in the world, I deserve, you know, to represent the United States in the doubles discipline. You know, this isn't about singles, this is about doubles. Maybe I based a little bit too much of what I was feeling on what happened in the past, you know, that they always did take the top doubles player to represent the country for doubles.
Q. Were you surprised when you read the arbitrator's decision? Did that just validate what you had thought all along?
LISA RAYMOND: Well, I think he definitely took it to the USTA a little bit. You know, he said that their procedures and their rules and procedures are very, very vague. But at the same time he thought that Billie was allowed to have the discretion to pick whoever she wanted. The bottom line is Billie put on the team who she wanted to put on the team.
Q. Billie obviously is known as far and away the greatest fighter for justice in women's sport. Does that hurt a little bit even more?
LISA RAYMOND: There's definitely an irony to that. Again, it's just -- it's very difficult to look at the rankings and to look at it on paper, to see that I'm No. 1 in the world. It's one thing if I was No. 3 and I was fighting for the spot. You know, I certainly earned it. You know, I thought Billie would really take that into consideration. She's always picked a doubles player in that doubles spot. Whether or not I'd played with an American before, I don't think that has anything really to do with me getting that doubles spot.
Q. In the bigger picture, there's the Q system, whatever it's called, in regular circuits where the Kournikovas of the world get better treatment. Do you think there's too much emphasis on the celebrity side, the big names in women's tennis?
LISA RAYMOND: I don't think in general. I think it's great. I think it's great that we have the Williams sisters. I think it's great that we have the Kournikovas, the rivalries with the Williams and Lindsay and Martina. You know, you would hope when you're making a decision like this that that would be put aside, that that really wouldn't come into a decision. Yes, it is their Dream Team. Billie got her Dream Team. Whether or not that was in the back of her mind when she was making this decision, I can't answer that.
Q. Did you have victories over the Williams sisters with any doubles partner?
LISA RAYMOND: I have one victory, but it was two years ago, with Rennae.
Q. How about losses in mixed?
LISA RAYMOND: Mixed? I think I've lost to both of them in mixed.
Q. Women's doubles?
LISA RAYMOND: No losses to them in women's doubles.
Q. When was the last time you talked to Billie?
LISA RAYMOND: We said hello at the arbitration. The last conversation was about ten days after Wimbledon when she told me that I wasn't on the team.
Q. Was she sympathetic to you? What did she say?
LISA RAYMOND: She was sympathetic. You know, Billie and I have always had a very good relationship. I think that that makes this even more difficult. You know, Billie has helped me a lot in the past with my game, both on and off the court. That also hurt a little bit. But, you know, she basically just said that I didn't make the cut, I wasn't on the team. She gave her reasonings, why she was selecting Serena over me. That was it really. That was the last I've talked to her about it.
Q. Were any parts of her reasoning that there was a fear that Venus wouldn't go if Serena didn't go?
LISA RAYMOND: No.
Q. The arbitrator ordered the USTA to pay your legal expenses, is that right?
LISA RAYMOND: Yes.
Q. How much were those?
LISA RAYMOND: I really don't think I should say that here.
Q. Interested to know how much the USTA put out.
LISA RAYMOND: It was -- they were lawyer fees, legal expenses. You guys can kind of do the math. I don't really want to throw figures around right now.
Q. Did you know there was precedence for this? I think it was '88, that Elise Burgin was named to the Olympic team, and they said, "Chris Evert is going to play in your place." Did you talk to Chrissy or Elise? Did it soften the blow at all?
LISA RAYMOND: I have not talked to either one of them. I was aware of what had happened. Again, I don't think anything can really soften the blow. I felt like I worked my butt off to earn that No. 1 ranking. I put myself on the line week-in and week-out, injured, you know, sacrificing my singles, thinking naively that, you know, to be No. 1 in the world was going to be good enough.
Q. What did they say about the fact that rankings would determine it? What led you to believe that because you're No. 1?
LISA RAYMOND: They always said "rankings."
Q. They did say that?
LISA RAYMOND: Yeah, they did. As anyone who knows tennis, there's two separate rankings, there's a singles ranking and there's a doubles ranking, just like there's two separate disciplines in the Olympics, a singles event and a doubles event. Common sense would tell me if I'm No. 1 in the world in doubles that I deserve to go to the Olympics to play doubles.
Q. We know the men have to do the rankings. Was there anything said that it has to be by the women's rankings?
LISA RAYMOND: It was just understood and within girls on the tour, just everyone, you know, mulling around, all the players, even people outside tennis.
Q. You had your best singles performance at Wimbledon in a Grand Slam in your career. With everything that's happened in the last six weeks, how difficult was it for you to prepare for here? What's it been like?
LISA RAYMOND: It wasn't easy. It was very difficult. You know, especially the week or two weeks before a Grand Slam I think are the most important. That's when I was really -- that's when this was magnified more than any time, going through the arbitration. There were days where I didn't even play because I was sitting down with my lawyers and preparing testimonies, you know, preparing declarations, then being in New York for two full days for this arbitration, then waiting. He took almost 48 hours to make his decision. You know, it wasn't easy to go out there and practice knowing, "Am I going? What's going to happen?" I will say this. I'm definitely glad it's over because now I can feel like I can finally, you know, put it behind me, move on, and concentrate on this event now.
Q. Will you be playing during the Olympics? What will you be doing?
LISA RAYMOND: Not watching the tennis, I can tell you that (laughter).
Q. What is your gut feeling? Do you feel frustration? Anger? Do you feel the USTA was uncaring in some way?
LISA RAYMOND: I don't think uncaring. That's not the right word. But very frustrated, angry, very disappointed both in Billie and the USTA.
Q. Does this diminish your enthusiasm to play future Fed Cups or represent your country at all?
LISA RAYMOND: You know, it doesn't because I've always loved doing it. I mean, that's another thing, I've always made myself available. Every time Billie has asked me, whether it's to go to Croatia, whether it's to go across the street, I made myself available to play for the US. I love it. I love being on a team. It's the closest thing that we have, you know. When I played in college, I miss that. I miss the team atmosphere. When we get to play Fed Cup, we finally get that back. There's a couple times out of the year. I'm certainly not going to be negative and be hard on Fed Cup and turn that down.
Q. Have either Venus or Serena said anything to you?
LISA RAYMOND: No.
Q. Richard Williams was quoted this morning that you should have gone as opposed to Serena.
LISA RAYMOND: I did read that.
Q. What was your reaction to seeing that? Has he said anything to you?
LISA RAYMOND: No, Mr. Williams has not said anything to me. I don't know. Whatever.
Q. You agree fully with him?
LISA RAYMOND: Exactly (smiling).
Q. The celebrity atmosphere, do you feel like you have to hire a public relations firm, that being No. 1 isn't good enough these days?
LISA RAYMOND: No, I don't. I think it's great, again, that these girls have personalities, that they bring something to the game that I think had been missing. The fact that they can back it up with their tennis is even better for our sport. For me, I mean, I just have always been kind of more in the background, just let my racquet do more of the talking.
Q. They have won three of the last five Grand Slam doubles. Why do you think it was them as opposed to you?
LISA RAYMOND: Again, you're going -- that's for Billie Jean to answer. We can all speculate, but it doesn't really matter what I think.
Q. Nathalie Tauziat was obviously upset, too. She said the two of you did have discussion. Can you tell us a little bit of what you talked about?
LISA RAYMOND: Well, I mean, we are just kind of both going through something that neither one of us felt like we really should have had to go through. In Nathalie's case, you know, if I was Nathalie, I'd be even more angry. I think, if anything, she's earned it. I mean, my God, she was Top 10 in the world when I think the decision was made. You know, in her case, I definitely think she should be on that team.
Q. There are those on tour who didn't make the Olympics or aren't going. What do you think they're missing? You obviously really wanted to go. Why was it so important to you?
LISA RAYMOND: You know, again, to represent your country, to walk in that stadium during the opening ceremonies with all those amazing athletes. I don't think there could be really too many incidents that can come close to that. I made it a priority at the beginning of the year. I really focused a lot, after winning the Australian Open, on my doubles and made that a goal of mine.
Q. There was a campaign sometime within the last two to three weeks among the gals threatening to boycott the US Open unless you were named to the team. How far did that get?
LISA RAYMOND: That's actually the first I heard of that. I'd like to know who those girls were.
Q. That was going to be my next question.
LISA RAYMOND: No, I have not heard that at all.
Q. It happened?
LISA RAYMOND: Really? Do you know who any of the girls were?
Q. No. I got it from one of the parents who said her daughter --?
LISA RAYMOND: I will say this. I've gotten unbelievable feedback and unbelievable support both from players, strangers. I'll be playing a match, people would yell things out. You know, the players have been just awesome, girls who I'm not even friends with, who have come up to you and said, "I think it's really great what you've done. It took a lot of courage. We're behind you."
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