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September 1, 2022

Jessica Pegula

New York, New York, USA

Press Conference

J. PEGULA/A. Sasnovich

6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Straight sets, hour and 19 minutes. Your thoughts on the win.

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah. I'm glad it was two sets. The conditions were tough. I know she's been playing pretty well on the hard courts this year, so again, happy that I was able to kind of get in and get out and not make it any more difficult than it had to be.


Q. How would you describe the way you're playing and what your level of confidence is at this point in the tournament?

JESSICA PEGULA: I think it's growing with every match. I think that's kind of what you want. I feel like now, you know, you kind of want to work your way into a tournament a little bit. I feel like sometimes, not that it's bad, but if you're playing unbelievable in first round, then I feel like things sometimes can kind of go downhill from there a little bit because it's hard to sustain that level over two weeks especially.

I'm happy with how I'm playing. I'm glad I got through my first two matches doing what I needed to do and playing smart. It's only going to get tougher from here, so I'm just happy with each match and hoping the next match kind of goes the same way. Try not to get too ahead of myself.

Q. What's your perspective on the atmosphere surrounding Serena and the way she's played from what you have been able to observe?

JESSICA PEGULA: I mean, last night she played unbelievable, I thought. I thought the first round she played really well, and I was, like, Wow, I haven't seen her play like that in a little while now. To watch her play Anett, and she seemed like totally different than the last few weeks where I have seen her play in Toronto and Cincy, or really for like the past, I don't know, year or two, really. Like totally different.

It's been pretty crazy to see. Pretty inspiring, as well. I feel like just her out there, I feel like she's just soaking up every single point, every single second of being out there and being Serena. I think it's just been pretty cool to watch.

Q. The sense in the locker room of the awe or the feeling about what she's doing, surprise, et cetera, how would you characterize the buzz among players about what's happening?

JESSICA PEGULA: I don't know. I haven't really honestly spoken to anyone about what's happened. I think we all know. We're, like, Oh, wow, she came to play this week. She's here to play.

I think we all go back. If we don't have a night match, we all turn on the TV and we watch because we want to see what's going on, what's going to happen, how's she playing. I think the last two nights we've been maybe a little bit more surprised about how well she's playing, just based on, you know, the past few years.

No, she's definitely, you can tell she's been working really hard the last couple weeks and I think it's a different Serena -- same Serena but at the same time more vintage Serena.

I think we are just kind of, I don't know, like that's what we do. We go back, we turn it on because we want to watch her play. I think that's just kind of the impression, I guess, she leaves on everyone in the locker room is we are all tuning in to see how she's doing. I think that speaks a lot, I guess.

Q. You have a doubles match later today. You are also playing mixed. As you get further along in the tournament, does rest become a factor when perhaps your opponent might have a day off?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah. I mean, when I get to that point I will maybe think about it. I actually said in my on-court interview today, everybody is like, Oh, my God, you're playing all three. I'm like, Listen, guys, I was hurt for like three or four years. I'm trying to play everything I can now just because I love being out on court and I love playing.

We will see if it becomes a factor. I think it depends on my matches and how each match goes. If I'm playing multiple, three-hour-long matches and I'm in the semis, Okay. Well, maybe something's got to give.

I have always been adamant that if I'm committing to an event, I'm going to commit to the event. I'm not going to try to pull out or do anything like that.

Q. You're playing with Coco. Do you have an agreement before tournament, Hey, if one of us plays a really long match then maybe doubles...

JESSICA PEGULA: No, we just want to win the tournament, I think. I think both of us do. Her, she's never tired. She's so young, anyways (smiling).

Q. If I could ask you about Serena again, if you don't mind. I want to ask you about if you can think back to when you played her, Auckland, I think it was, do you remember what your thoughts were heading into that match? Did you have this idea at all of, like, Wow, it's going to be Serena Williams? I grew up watching her on court and sort of if that played into your mindset at all going into that match?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, of course. I think that was also like a few years ago where I was just starting to do better and just starting to be on more of the bigger stages and getting used to that.

I definitely felt that a little bit, especially it being a final. It felt a little bit more like special, especially because it was I think her first final since having Olympia, and it was going to be her first title since having her, and I think the only one now.

I knew it was a big moment. The tournament also is a really nice tournament. I remember we had an opening ceremony type thing and she said a couple of things to me. I think when you're standing next to her, I felt okay but then once we started playing and you could kind of feel her power and feel her, like, you know, hitting a winner, coming at you, serving, I think that's when you're like, Oh, wow, I'm playing Serena, you know.

So I think we all kind of have those moments for the first time. It was definitely a special moment for me, especially now that we are here, you know, and she's not retiring but whatever, evolving or whatever she says, that I'm, like, Okay, wow, that was the only time I played her but the last time I played her was a pretty special moment.

Q. A different aspect of this is the fact that she's almost 41. We see, whether it's her, Tom Brady in the NFL, we see athletes now sticking around at ages that didn't used to be the case and having success. Do you think maybe the way things with fitness and the way you all can take care of yourselves and maybe focus on that more than was the case 30 years ago, let's say, or whatever, do you think that has made a big difference? And also, maybe changes sort of the way to look at age as a factor in sports?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, no, I think it's been a huge part of it. I think definitely made a huge difference. Athletes, how they take care of their bodies, sports, nutrition, science behind training and nutrition has changed so much. I think players back in the day you saw a player drinking a Coke on the sideline and they had a beer after their match.

Now you see, most of the work is put into that, especially, especially at the highest level when you're trying to play every single week. You see the guys with how physical they are they kind of have to or else, again, like I said before, if you get hurt and you start missing weeks, you're playing catchup. The level keeps going up and it's really, really hard.

So I think health has been the No. 1 priority, whether it's physical or mental as well, as we've seen a lot recently. I think there was a lot of burnout when girls were younger. They would be really good when they were 16 and they'd be retired by they're 25.

I think we have seen improvements in a lot of that stuff and I think it's really important. Then we've seen obviously the top players. I remember thinking Federer, everyone thought he was going to retire, Nadal was going to retire, Serena. We all thought they were going to stop and they kept pushing the boundaries of what retirement should be or what the age should be, and they've proved that it can keep going.

I think it's important that they did that as long as, you know, again, everyone putting in the time to stay healthy.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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