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September 8, 1998
U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, Flushing Meadows, New York
Q. You come to New York for the first time as a Grand Slam champion. Does that make a
really big difference for you confidence-wise?
JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think not only coming to New York. I think it makes a difference
in my life. It made a difference in my career, there's no question about. Coming to play
another Grand Slam, just after that you won one, it feels really great. I'm just glad to
be in the semifinals. I really wanted to do well in this tournament. Never got further
than to the semis. So, you know, very pleased. And I will try my best on the semis.
Q. You played great in France, obviously won Wimbledon. Is this the best tennis of your
JANA NOVOTNA: Well, it sure looks like it, yeah, that I've been playing extremely
consistently over the years. And now this year it's becoming better and better. So, yeah,
best year of my ccareer, no question about it. But most of all, I think what is really
important that I'm enjoying myself. You know, the older I get, the more I enjoy it, which
is rather unusual to see. It doesn't happen too often. I'm glad it's happening to me. I
just want to take advantage of this.
Q. How much confidence did your Wimbledon title give you for this tournament?
JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think, you know, winning a Grand Slam, I mean, it gives you
confidence, you know, not only for next couple of weeks, but it gives you confidence for
life. I mean, you know, not too many people can do something like that. I have worked very
hard over the years to win the Grand Slam tournament. The funny thing I said right after
Wimbledon, I felt, you know, that I could go and win some more. There's no question about
it. I felt that inner confidence in me already then. I'm just glad that it's happening for
me just now.
Q. Your doubles partner is Martina Hingis. Is it stressful at times to have a doubles
partner who you're going to be head-to-head with?
JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think when we got together, that's what you have to expect. I
mean, if player No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, they got together in doubles, you have to
expect that you will have to meet at maybe every single tournament, play against each
other. So that's something you have to learn how to separate. I think that you have to
learn how to deal with the pressure when you are playing singles and then just to be able
to go out there and play doubles and enjoy it. I think a big part of this is that we have
a big respect for each other. And I think that's why we make such a good team when we are
playing doubles together. That's why we are such great opponents when we were playing
against each other in the singles matches.
Q. You said your Wimbledon win made a difference in your life. I wonder, has it changed
the perception of how other players on the Tour see you? Do they fear you more?
JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I really do feel that way, yeah. I think it was pretty obvious. I
mean, the tournament I played right after Wimbledon, I was very tired. I was playing back
on clay, back in Prague. I could really feel that the players are afraid to beat me. Even
when they were up in the matches in the first sets or 4-Love up, something like, that they
still were not sure if they can finish it off. I think that's a great achievement. I think
when you achieve that, that players do respect you, and they are not sure if they can beat
you. I think that's a big step forward. That's when you get easier matches while you're
Q. Do you understand how they feel? Did you ever feel that way, playing against someone
who had won titles?
JANA NOVOTNA: Absolutely. I think that it's something very, very natural when you play
against a great champion, when you know you are playing against a player who won many
Grand Slams, came back from tough matches, you're confident going into the matches, not as
high as against somebody else. That makes a huge difference. I think when you respect
somebody a lot, that makes a huge -- it makes it much harder to beat them.
Q. Patrick Rafter was just in here talking about how his first Grand Slam title, the
difference in his life, things that had changed, the fact that he'd learned how to become
blunter with people because you have to learn how to say "no," your entourage
gets bigger, suddenly people are around. I know it's been a year for him, not as long for
you. How has it changed things for you?
JANA NOVOTNA: Well, my entourage is very small still (laughter). It didn't get any
Q. Actually, to be truthful, he wasn't saying that. First you're surrounded by three
people, now there's a hundred people asking how you're doing.
JANA NOVOTNA: I think absolutely you get more publicity, there's no question about it.
I mean, especially for him, he's a very attractive player, and he's a great player. So
that's what's happening to him. To me, it has certainly changed to a certain extent as
well. But I wouldn't say like it's uncontrollable. I think it has changed in a very
positive way. I think that I still have the same people around me that I have always had.
And, you know, that's really important. You should use this experience or this confidence
or this positive things happening in your life, and use it in a positive way. You know, it
shouldn't get into your head I'm sure that it didn't get into my head.
Q. Were you surprised, I don't like to use the word "easy," but how easy you
beat her today?
JANA NOVOTNA: Well, you know what, I was very pleased, I must say, when I heard the
news that she beat Steffi. There's no question about it. I mean, playing Steffi today in
this weather conditions, it would be really difficult, because she hits really hard, and
she's very overpowering. It would be much harder for me to create my game. Playing against
Patty, I played some tough matches against her, I lost to her before. But I knew that even
though it was really windy, it could help me, and I do have the variety in my game, and I
have the game not to get into the rallies with her, and use the wind in my advantage.
That's what I basically did. But I have expected a much, much harder match, there's no
question about it. But I also knew that after beating Steffi, she may have a letdown a
little bit because she's not as experienced, she's still very young. In the future, she
will be a great player. But at this moment, she just simply didn't know how to handle the
Q. How would you describe yourself at 29 compared with what you were at 18?
JANA NOVOTNA: That's a good question. I don't even remember. You know, to tell you the
truth, I don't even want to remember. I have talked about it many, many times in the past,
that I have wasted too much time, you know, just being satisfied with what I have achieved
in doubles, and in my singles. Only until I was 21 or 22 when I really started to take
tennis seriously and very professionally, that's when I finally started to play much
better tennis. That's basically where my career took off. I am just so much more mature,
there's no question about it, and so much more confident. Just, you know -- I just feel so
much better about myself now than I did when I was, you know, a couple of years younger.
But I think that all comes with age. Anyway, I'm happy that all this success and
everything that's been going on that's happening for me at a later age, because I think
you can appreciate it so much more. You just enjoy it.
Q. Is it because you feel you don't have I don't want to say much time left, but
athletes' careers are much shorter than if you were an accountant?
JANA NOVOTNA: No, I don't think so. I don't think it's because of that. I just simply
think it's because of the way I am, the way I have matured, I have learned how to
appreciate things in life. That's why I do appreciate all the success and the Wimbledon
title that I have got this year finally so much more than what I would be 18. When you 18,
you just young and fearless, and you don't look to the right, you don't look to the left,
you just go ahead and say, "I won Wimbledon, fine, okay. What is next?" Maybe it
takes you a couple years before you really realize what an achievement it is. For me, I
could have enjoyed that every single moment while I was on the court.
Q. What other things do you appreciate in life besides tennis, now that you actually
say you look to the right or to the left?
JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think I do appreciate everything about life. I think that's the
greatest thing about it. What is the most important, of course, is your own health and
your personal happiness. I think the people that you have around you, these are the most
important things you need to have in life. But for me, the good part of it is that I do
have most of that, and I'm very fortunate. When you have this, you can still go out there
and every day you can enjoy simple things and you can just be happy that it's a beautiful
day out there. These are the small things that I can still appreciate, and that's the
biggest happiness that I have in my life.
Q. You mentioned about appreciating the small things. When you walk down the streets in
most cities, can you go unrecognized or do you find since you've won Wimbledon that more
people recognize you so your privacy is invaded?
JANA NOVOTNA: I think that I'm definitely much more recognized than I was before.
There's no question about it. But, again, I would say to a certain extent my privacy has
not been invaded at all. So I think that's very nice. I wouldn't like this to go any
further. I simply do like it just the way it is. I love to be recognized, it's a very nice
feeling you have that you have achieved something, and you travel from one country to
another, and people do know you, they appreciate what you did, or they were watching or
something. So these are nice things. But, you know, again, I don't want this to go any
Q. You realize if you win the US Open, it will go further.
JANA NOVOTNA: Let's take it a little further then (laughter).
Q. For a long time, you were tagged as a choker.
JANA NOVOTNA: That's the first time I hear it in six weeks (laughter). It feels good.
Q. I was going to ask you, you were alone for a while, except for your friends and
family, of having the self-belief, "That's not true, I'm a champion, I'm going to get
there." I'm wondering if one of the satisfying things of having won Wimbledon, now
the world has to believe that, too?
JANA NOVOTNA: And they do. They don't have to; I think they do already. If it wasn't up
to you, I didn't hear it for such a long time, and it felt really good. You remember when
we spoke right after Wimbledon, and I said that "This is going to be the beginning of
new Jana." And so far it really feels that way. Every time I do a press conference or
I'm recognized by somebody or talking to somebody, not a word about anything in the past,
only the present time, which is great. I have been waiting long time to change that. And I
knew that the only thing or the only way to change this would be to win a Grand Slam
title. And now when it finally happened, I'm very happy to have this behind me. As I told
you there, I'm looking forward to the new beginning basically of my career, which would be
Jana, the Wimbledon Champion, and hopefully many more.
Q. Was the beginning of your title the Masters at New York?
JANA NOVOTNA: Not really. For me, it was a huge title. I said always fifth Grand Slam.
But for everybody else, you know, Grand Slam titles are the Grand Slam titles. Nothing can
compare to that, even the Masters, when you have the top 16 players. I mean, it gives you
a lot of boost, it gives you great confidence. But in the tennis world, there are only
four best tournaments. Just by winning those, you can become a champion.
Q. In many ways, the Masters is like a players' tournament, the players recognize you,
but the Slams, people inside and outside tennis?
JANA NOVOTNA: Everywhere, just everywhere.
Q. Was there anything, Jana, that you did special for yourself after you won Wimbledon?
I remember Boris Becker ran off to a hill by himself when he became No. 1 for those weeks.
Was there one thing by yourself, a private thing that you said, "I'm the Wimbledon
Q. That will no longer be private now.
JANA NOVOTNA: No, actually. You know what, not that I can remember, no. I think I had a
wonderful time after a -- a couple weeks after Wimbledon when I came back to Florida. I
was in the period when I wasn't training, I wasn't doing anything, just enjoying myself. I
sat down and just played the finals again, played the tape for myself again, and watched
every detail. You know, just we played a few points a couple times. You know, just went
through the whole emotions again. That's I think when I finally have realized that it
really happened, yeah.
Q. Since you are at the grand old age of 29, do you find some of the younger players
seeking your counsel or advice?
JANA NOVOTNA: Yeah, there's always a line at my locker, it's like five people lined up,
"Oh, Jana, how do you do that"? No, it doesn't work like that. It doesn't work
like that. It's not that you're an older player, or that you're one of the experienced,
that people come to you, players come to you saying, "Jana, would you help me with
that? Would you do that?" No, there's too much competition going on. All the players,
not just the young ones, but the older ones, they have people around them, and they go out
there. If they have a problem or if they want to ask something, they do ask their coaches
or their family members and all that. It's not really a player is coming up to you and
asking you for help or for advice, no.
Q. Their advisers are not really members of the tour, not knowing what it's like to
have the racquet in hand playing in front of five thousand people.
JANA NOVOTNA: It just doesn't work like that. Tennis is a very individual sport.
There's so much competition going on, even though everybody is really friendly to each
other. I think the general atmosphere in the locker room on the women's circuit nowadays
is better than ever. Younger players have respect for the older players, and it's the
other way around. But you still don't seek out that kind of attention or advice from the
older players. They don't.
Q. Golf, it seems like there's a bit of a camaraderie.
JANA NOVOTNA: When you retire. Once you don't play for yourself, then it's going to
Q. Do you have regrets in your career?
JANA NOVOTNA: No regrets. Absolutely no regrets. It's Madonna that said that, no? No,
not at all. Why should I? I'm a very positive person and I always look into the future, I
never look back. So whatever happened in the past, it's past, I can't change it. So why to
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