home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


September 8, 1998

Jana Novotna

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 career?

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 playing.

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 bigger.

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 whole situation.

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 further.

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 Champion"?

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 happen.

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 have regrets?

End of FastScripts…

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297