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September 4, 1998

Jana Novotna

U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, Flushing Meadows, New York

JANA NOVOTNA: Tell me what is on your mind.

Q. What is on your mind? What has happened to you since Wimbledon? How has your life changed, if it has changed by becoming the Wimbledon champion?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think it has changed definitely to a certain extent. But I think, otherwise, everything else has been pretty much to normal, and again, I took some time off after playing the tournament in Prague right after Wimbledon. It was about four weeks. And, then started to play the hard courts, Montreal, New Haven, and here.

Q. How has it changed?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think it has changed in a way that I am just feeling incredibly relieved and just happy of what I have achieved, but nevertheless this kind of achievement pushes me to work even harder and try to go for some more.

Q. Why the relief? Relief of what, finally winning a Slam?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think I always had the belief. I think it was more or less just proving it to myself and that it just finally happened for me. Everybody has been talking about it for a very long time and I think until that moment when I finally won it, I didn't feel any pressure, but I think that after when it finally happened I felt that enormous relief, and so there is no question that there was some pressure on me and I just feel very happy about that.

Q. You went home. What kind -- you went home. What sort of reception was there?

JANA NOVOTNA: I think it was better than ever, really. I never felt such a warm welcome coming back to Prague in all those years that I have been playing tennis even though I have won major tournaments or won the Chase Championship last year. But that kind of welcome was better than ever and I just felt enormous warmth from everybody. It was a pretty big reception when I came back. Played a tournament in Prague for the whole week and it was just really nice.

Q. What form did this take, not parades, but what --

JANA NOVOTNA: Not really parades. But you could just feel the support that I got from all the spectators, all the people that I know and not only from my family, but from almost everybody, have been invited to the castle to see the president, so that was really nice just before he got sick again. That is pretty much it.

Q. After what you achieved, do you have the expectation in every match much more than ever that you are going to be the winner and it is almost incumbent on the other player to play her best to beat you?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think that most of the lower-ranked players, they always like to play the top seeds with, you know, without any fears. They just go out there. They feel they have nothing to lose and they usually do very well. I think now since I am Wimbledon champion, I feel more respect from the other players while I am on the court. I think -- I really felt that change right when I played the tournament back in Prague and then when I started to play in Montreal, again that I could really feel that even I was losing, when I was even down, I saw on the face of the other players that they were not really sure if they can still finish it off if they can really win it.

Q. When you are losing, you are down, do you mentally flash back to Wimbledon?

JANA NOVOTNA: No, I don't. I think that you cannot spend your life looking back. I think that you have to look into the future and you have to look forward. But I know that I have been behind a number of matches lately, especially. And I know that no matter what the score is that you always get a chance to get back to the match and you can still go ahead and win it. But it really has nothing to do with Wimbledon whatsoever.

Q. Look forward, I mean, what is next? Is it -- winning this now, is this winning the Slams now your main priority?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I think my main priority, at this moment, is really to stay healthy and to enjoy tennis. I think that has been my priority for the last couple of years and I think really has worked. I think what is important at this stage is to continue to concentrate on next matches, don't look too far ahead because you never know with what can happen the next day or next tournament or next month. For me, definitely, I was looking forward to come here and play another Slam right after Wimbledon here, of course, more than ever. I am just very pleased the way I have been playing; especially today. I am just looking forward to playing another match and stay in the tournament as long as I can, and if I continue to play well, then maybe I will make it really far.

Q. What about your next match, can you talk about the two --

JANA NOVOTNA: I don't even know who I am playing. Would you please tell me.

Q. Spirlea or Serena.

JANA NOVOTNA: I see. It seems like Spirlea -- yeah, well, okay (laughter).

Okay, well I think that I do know both players quite well. Never played Serena, of course I know Irina Spirlea very well. If I will play today, I will take a moment to look at the match because I think it will be a very interesting matchup and just study them a little bit and just don't worry about anything just go out there and enjoy and just play my best tennis.

Q. When you use the word "Relief" after winning Wimbledon and not many people win the major Championships, did you worry that you might never win it?

JANA NOVOTNA: You know, I don't think I was in that stage that I did worry about that. Maybe a couple of years from now I would sit down and say: Oh, you know, I really feel like my time is up, if I couldn't do it this year at Wimbledon. But at that time, no, I was still very positive and I said: Well, if it is not going to happen this year I felt pretty confident about myself and about my state of physical fitness, and state of mind that I could still go out there and do it next year or the year after. But nevertheless I am glad it happened finally now.

Q. What did you like best about Wimbledon, was it those backhand overheads against Hingis?

JANA NOVOTNA: Wow! No, it was not only that. Of course, there were so many other things that I have enjoyed so much. But I think it was my net game, definitely. It was my net game and my forehand, which usually in the past have let me down and this time my forehand was really solid and I could count on it when I needed it most.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the last six months with sports in the Czech Republic between the Olympics and the soccer and you, has there been a definite feeling in the country of special pride?

JANA NOVOTNA: Absolutely, yeah. I think that -- yeah, what has been going on now -- I think that Petr Korda started it winning the Australian Open; that was really something. And then of course when the Gold Olympics in the ice hockey that was very special and now we winning Wimbledon, it is just a wonderful year for sports for Czech Republic and I think that is how it used to be and now in the past we didn't see that many successful players or teams or results so it is nice -- it is nice to get it back; get the feeling back because our country is a very sportive country and especially tennis and ice hockey has a great tradition. I think it is very important to maintain that tradition.

Q. You mentioned that you haven't played Serena Williams yet. What are your observations of her game? What is most impressive to you and why do you think she has been able to get ahead as quickly as she has?

JANA NOVOTNA: I really don't know. It is always hard to talk about it when you watch somebody on TV. I have never seen her play live so I don't really know how hard she hits and how overpowering she could be, but I think she is moving really well, hits the ball really hard and these are -- these would be her strengths. But unless you get the chance to play the player, you know, and face the opponent on the other side of the net, then you can't really tell how good she really is or what -- you know, just you need to get the feeling of the game. You need to feel that while are playing against her.

Q. How would you rate your game today?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, I thought that the first two matches I have been playing quite well, but I have lost my concentration in the second sets and I have let it slipped away and just got involved in playing more games. But I felt that today I expected very tough match from Sandrine Testud because she has beaten top players before. She definitely knows how to handle an occasion like that. But I felt that I was really strong on my forehand and it was really aggressive playing well at the net and that is the most important in my game.

Q. No. 2 ranking right now. But in terms of attention and publicity among the women on the Tour, you maybe 6, 7, 8 or 9. Do you like the fact that --

JANA NOVOTNA: Or even lower. (laughs).

Q. Do you like the fact that you can come in other and be sort of not under the spotlight as much? Does that help you or not?

JANA NOVOTNA: I somewhat got really used to it over the years. Even though playing at Wimbledon, even though I was one of the candidates to win that tournament, I still never got the attention as maybe the other players. So I am somewhat used to. This I really don't know what to answer to this. It is like -- it is not up to me. I am not creating all this attention.

Q. Do you use it to your advantage?

JANA NOVOTNA: I think it is an advantage in a way, you just don't have to spend so much time here. (laughs) No. No, but it is just -- I really don't know what to answer to that. I think that US Open and the New York crowd is definitely different from any other crowd in the world, right? They are just -- they just love attention. They love something when something is going on and, you know, for you guys you are probably -- I am just playing and unless I make it to the semis, you know, that is when you finally get to know me.

Q. You also seem to be enjoying this more in 98 than you were four, five years ago.

JANA NOVOTNA: Yes, I do. I must say to so. I have been talking about it for many years now that for last couple of years, few things in my life has changed. I am enjoying myself so much more than I did before. I think it is also because I am so much more mature and I can value things much better.

Q. Is there any part of you that when you looked at the draw and saw Steffi lurking in there - nobody has been really talking about her and you say, oh, no, not again?

JANA NOVOTNA: I think everybody is talking about her. I really think so. I think she had a wonderful tournament in New Haven and I think that everybody has been waiting for the moment when she is going to finally win her first tournament after the injury comeback. I said that already this year in Eastbourne, I felt that she is playing very, very good tennis and I think that she is moving much better than she did earlier in the year and I -- when I got the chance to play her in New Haven, she was overpowering, very fast, hit the ball hard, she would never stop. She is definitely a danger. She definitely has a chance to win this tournament. But you never know, this tournament is very long and you have to -- you have many obstacles and many opponents along the way, so you know, it just -- you just have to take it as it comes.

Q. Is your career complete now that you have won a Slam; especially Wimbledon?

JANA NOVOTNA: Yeah, I think it is. I really think it is. But not -- don't get me wrong, it doesn't mean that my career is complete now; that I don't train anymore or I don't with a want to win anymore. I think that the hunger and desire to win even more is here more than ever. I think that is very important because to some players to win a Grand Slam you never heard about them after that. For me, it is the total opposite. I think that after winning Wimbledon, yes, I have completed my career; an enormous dream came for me true and I am just looking forward to play more and enjoying it more and I think that is what it is all about. I think it is a great feeling.

Q. You have arguably the most effective serve on the women's Tour. What is the key to having such a good serve?

JANA NOVOTNA: Well, you know what, I wouldn't really say that I have the best serve in the game. I think that Steffi Graf has a great serve. I think Lindsay Davenport has a great serve. But I think it is how well can use your serve afterwards. I think that is very important. Naturally if I am serving well, I think that my overall game is much better and much more aggressive. So it is just, you know, a matter of being really consistent and I think nowadays it becomes more obvious than ever, that even in women's game, when it never used to be like that, you need to have a good serve in order to compete against all the other players because now you see Davenport has a great serve. Venus has a great serve. Everybody. You really, really need that more than ever.

End of FastScripts…

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