September 6, 1999
U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, Flushing Meadows, New York
WTA: Questions for Jana.
Q. Are you here to tell us something?
JANA NOVOTNA: Yeah. Actually, this time I'm going to start. Actually, this time I'm
here to tell you, yeah, you have all recently heard that there has been some speculation
about me maybe not playing next year. I just would like to clarify everything, that that
is true. I have decided to finish this year, fulfill my obligations for this fall, and
then not to play anymore next year.
Q. Why have you reached this decision at this point?
JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think I have been thinking about the decision for a very long
time. I just felt that the timing for it is right. Usually here at the US Open, I have to
do my commitments and designations for next year. So I felt that the time is right to make
Q. You won't play in doubles?
JANA NOVOTNA: I will not play in doubles and I will not play singles, no.
Q. Retired, completely retired?
JANA NOVOTNA: Yes, I will no longer play next year.
Q. Why? Is it physical? Mental? Psychological?
JANA NOVOTNA: I think it's a combination of things. I think that's very hard to say
it's one thing or another. But, as I said, I've been thinking about this for a very long
time. It's really difficult to point out one thing, why am I retiring or why I won't be
playing anymore next year. But I just feel that the time for it is right. Again, I'm very
happy with the decision that I have made, and I'm looking forward to my future.
Q. How are you physically?
JANA NOVOTNA: I'm physically fine. Physically I'm fine. There is really no problem. My
ankle injury really doesn't have anything to do with this decision. I think that winning
Wimbledon last year made this decision much easier. I can look back and just be very
thankful for the very long and healthy career that I had. Of course, I wouldn't be able to
do it all on my own. I did it with the help of my family, my parents, my long-time coach
Hana Mandlikova, and, of course, my business manager, Phil Depicciotto and his staff at
Advantage International. This is a sport that you do individually. You are out there on
your own, but around you, you have to have a group of people that can help you enormously.
I'm just wanting to thank all the people that they've been helping me for many, many
years, and, of course, to all my fans around the world for giving me very special moments.
As I said, I'm looking forward to my future, no matter what it's going to be. I hope that
I will be as successful with it as I was with when I was a tennis player.
Q. What are some of the things you're thinking about doing?
JANA NOVOTNA: Well, for right now, I haven't made any immediate decisions, but, of
course, it's too soon. As I said, this was my last Grand Slam tournament, but not the last
tournament. I have some of the tournaments back in Europe that I will play. After that, I
just want to take some time off and just think about what I want to do in the future.
Q. Had you not won Wimbledon, do you think you would have struggled with this a lot
more, maybe decided not to retire quite yet?
JANA NOVOTNA: I think that's a very good question. And I think it's difficult to say
really how I would feel at this moment not winning Wimbledon last year. As I said earlier,
winning Wimbledon last year and having such the wonderful year that I had just made
everything much easier. Let's put it that this way. Definitely I said throughout my career
that winning one Grand Slam tournament would be very fulfilling and it would be a dream to
come true for me. It finally did happen. As I said, I can just look back and be very happy
and very thankful for the career that I have.
Q. What would you love to do in the future?
JANA NOVOTNA: What I would like to do in the future? I would like to do probably
everything but traveling. That's the one thing that I really have struggled lately with.
I'm looking forward to spending a lot of time at home and do things that I didn't have a
chance to do for a number of years.
Q. What do you think some of those things may be, some things you missed?
JANA NOVOTNA: You know, that's really a speculation right now. It's very early for me
to tell you right now. I think you all understand that this is not an easy decision; this
is something that I've been thinking about for a long time. Again, I'm very happy with the
decision. But for right now, I don't have any immediate plans, so I can't really tell you
what I will do.
Q. You played many players over the years. Let's say it's a slow hard court. Who is the
toughest player you ever faced?
JANA NOVOTNA: Slow hard court?
JANA NOVOTNA: You're talking about the main center court, not the other one (laughter).
You know what, I think it's really difficult to say or point out one player who is the
best player nowadays. I think I'm leaving the Women's Tour in better shape than it ever
was. I think that the younger players, the new generation knocking on the door, is ready
to take over. You know what, they are all great. Anybody can win this tournament. I think
that we will see. I personally think we will see one of the best US Opens ever.
Q. Will you make any effort to try to get to the Garden, qualify for that?
JANA NOVOTNA: As I said, I don't want to be very specific because I have my
commitments; I have my designations. If I do well, I will qualify, yes, probably you can
say yes. But if not, then no. It's hard to tell at this point. It's still too early to
determine if that would be my last tournament or no, but we'll see.
Q. Where will you base yourself?
JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I will base myself -- probably divide my time between Florida and
Europe. No question about it.
Q. Don't you find it a little ironic that you would retire now, after the one opponent
that gave you the most trouble in your career, is now no longer on the Tour?
JANA NOVOTNA: I know. I should be like all excited (laughter). You know what, yes, it
is very ironic actually. I can go back to when I was 14 years old, when I started my
career, back in France when I traveled for my first international tournament, under-14. I
happened to play Steffi Graf in the first round. She's been there for a very long time. It
is pretty ironic and incredible that we are retiring at the same year basically.
Q. You said you'd been thinking about this for a long time. Did Steffi making her
decision help clarify you making yours?
JANA NOVOTNA: Absolutely no. Steffi's case is totally different from mine. I would
never want to compare myself to Steffi. No, we didn't talk about it. It didn't really
help, nothing at all.
Q. You were talking about the women's circuit. Do you think it's a chapter which
finishes with you retiring after Steffi?
JANA NOVOTNA: I think that, yes, it could be part of it that you will see. As I said,
it's going to happen sooner or later that all the generation will leave. Yes, Steffi has
retired this year. I will not be playing anything next year. As I said, I just feel that
the woman's Tour nowadays is stronger than ever. I think that the younger players and the
new generation is ready to take over. As we will maybe see next year or something, some of
the older players will retire. But, as I said, the new generation is ready to take the
step ahead and be at the top and just lead the way.
Q. Aren't you a little bit troubled by the lack of young serve-and-volleyers on the
JANA NOVOTNA: No (laughter).
Q. Can you see ten years from now that it will basically be baseline bashing all the
time or do you think someone will replace you?
JANA NOVOTNA: I think that you never know. Yes, for right now, as the woman's tennis,
the way it's heading right now, the new generation, everybody is pretty much playing from
the baseline. But, you know, it's not only about serve and volleying. You shouldn't
oversee the fact that the new generation is bringing something new for the fans. It's
bringing something new to the sport, like the physical fitness. The players are fitter
than they've ever been. I think that we will see something different, something that's
going to be exciting and very interesting, not only for the fans, but for the players
themselves. I think there will be a very healthy competition. Yes, we may not see as many
serve-and-volleyers as we did in the past. But, again, they will bring something new which
we all will love.
Q. Is an involvement in tennis in the future in some capacity? Do you think that's
important to you? You think you might be able to put tennis totally, "That was that
life, now I'm going to do something different"?
JANA NOVOTNA: I think I always will be interested and involved in tennis one way or
another. But it's just very hard to say how will I be involved in tennis. But you have to
understand that I've been playing tennis since I was eight years old, and tennis will
always be part of my life. You know, even if I'm going to be as a spectator or as anything
else, I will always be involved and enjoy it.
Q. Does the Duchess know about this decision?
JANA NOVOTNA: Yes. I called her last night, actually (laughter). That's a good
question, though. She said, "Don't do it." I said, "I have to. I'm still
going to come because I have the little badge."
Q. Was Steffi the best you ever faced?
JANA NOVOTNA: Definitely, yes. Steffi was one of the greatest players ever. As I said
earlier, and many times, I think she was the most complete player. I think she has brought
the women's tennis to another level. She has just been a very complete, very intense
player, and very consistent over the years. I just hope that she will find her happiness
off the court, and she will be as happy as she was as a tennis player and that she will
have a nice, fulfilling life.
Q. You also had a fabulous doubles career. Who was the best doubles player that you've
ever been on court with?
JANA NOVOTNA: Besides me, right (laughter)?
JANA NOVOTNA: Thank you. You know what? It's really hard to tell. I think I had the
opportunity to play with many great doubles players. I played with Helena Sukova, Martina
Hingis, Sanchez-Vicario. They're all very unique in their own way. It's difficult to say
that this player was the greatest. All my victories, all my Grand Slam titles, they all
will be well-remembered. I had a great time playing doubles.
Q. When you look back to your long career, what have you in mind of your memories? What
do you take in your memories now?
JANA NOVOTNA: Everything pretty much. I mean, again, it's really hard to point out one
thing or one year that was the best or the most important. Of course, you all know that I
always wanted to win Wimbledon. When I finally did that, that was the greatest thing I
ever did in my career. Again, I mean, it's been a great long and very healthy career. It
would be hard to say and not fair to say that this was the greatest thing that ever
happened. Winning Wimbledon and becoming a Grand Slam champion is the greatest thing ever,
but don't forget tennis pretty much gave me everything, gave me the opportunity to travel,
to speak another language, just to be a different kind of person. That's the one thing
that I will always appreciate and treasurer.
Q. Will you be at the Advanta Championships?
JANA NOVOTNA: I don't know. I haven't made a decision yet. I will just fulfill my
commitments. Thank you.
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