November 19, 1996
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
Q. What are your plans for next week, Kimiko, what will you be doing in the future, the immediate future?
KIMIKO DATE: I haven't decided anything after this, and for now I want to enjoy the rest and after that I'll start thinking about what I want to do.
Q. Kimiko, was there a different nervousness tonight before you went out, not so much about the fact you're playing a match, but because it would be the last match here at the Madison Square Garden?
KIMIKO DATE: Talking about the preparation for this match, it was -- I felt the same way as I used to. But this is the first time for a long time, because I had a long break before this tournament. So at the beginning I just couldn't bring myself to this same feeling that I used to feel.
Q. Kimiko, what do you think about Martina Hingis next match?
KIMIKO DATE: That is going to be my first match against Hingis, and she's young and she has a lot of power. But I thought about this match against Seles and I haven't thought about anything about her. So about Hingis match, I just have to start conditioning myself now.
Q. What did Kimiko think about the ceremony, and in particular the children's choir that came and serenaded?
KIMIKO DATE: First of all I'm so happy that this is my last tournament, especially this is the top 16's tournament and also they held a wonderful ceremony and I really would like to express my gratitude that they had this opportunity for me to be here on the court.
Q. Anything about the children's choir? How did that strike you?
KIMIKO DATE: They sang very well and they were so cute. And I was so glad that in America they sang the Japanese song for me, that was very nice.
Q. What's your happiest tennis memory or your most memorable match, if there's a difference?
KIMIKO DATE: I've got so many matches that I still remember -- I'm still impressed a lot that to name three, the first one is the Wimbledon that I played on the center court. And also the Fed Cup in April this year. And also when I beat Sabatini in '91, those are the ones especially that I really do remember well.
Q. Because this is Kimiko's last tournament, does she feel less pressure or that the pressure is off and maybe that increases her play on the court?
KIMIKO DATE: I don't have any pressures anymore, but win or lose, but for this tournament I just want to enjoy playing on the Tour for the last -- I just want to enjoy it.
Q. Did you feel something wrong with Seles during the game?
KIMIKO DATE: At the beginning I made an easy error so much and also she did, so it was just before both players got on form in the first set. So I thought it was just the beginning, that's why she was not playing well or not moving so fast. So when she took the injury time I didn't know which part she was suffering from. And after the match, after the match she defaulted and I asked her to find out what was wrong with her. Then I found out. So I really didn't know what was wrong with her. I didn't notice that.
Q. After you broke the game -- how did you feel when you broke game?
KIMIKO DATE: I just didn't have any special thoughts when I broke her serves, but only thing in my mind was just to enjoy the game. And I just didn't -- I was not caring about the win or loss.
Q. What kind of impact do you think your retirement will have on the popularity of tennis in Japan and do you think it will affect new players using you as a role model?
KIMIKO DATE: There are many Japanese players in the top 50 and top hundred. And also there are a lot of juniors, like rising players are coming out to the top state. And I don't think that there will be a big impact because of my retirement. When I was young and there were some players already around my age then they decided to retire but then I used to feel like I would miss those players. But now that I'm in the top one and I feel somehow I feel kind of pressure being a top, but I just want to give the other players the advice that they shouldn't feel that kind of pressure just being a top, but just enjoy playing on the Tour, that's what my advice is.
Q. Have you outlined a few of your long-term goals, after you retire?
KIMIKO DATE: I don't have anything special.
Q. As far as being a tennis player and looking back on her career, what was the hardest thing about being a professional tennis player and what was the best thing?
KIMIKO DATE: There are so many hard things that I experienced, like when I was injured and also when I was injured and I couldn't win the tournaments and the people around me who used to get very close to me when I was in the top form, but when I was injured and I started losing so many matches then they just turned their back and stayed away from me, that was the hardest thing. And also just traveling all year round was also tough. But still the happiest thing, on top of that is when I win the tournaments and also I could make a lot of friends through my tennis life and also there are always the people who support me in a great way. Those are the greatest things.
Q. What changes could the WTA make, Kimiko, to make it easier for players to stick around a little longer?
KIMIKO DATE: In my opinion, this is kind of a difficult question to answer, but for us Japanese players, we -- to be direct, we have a geographical disadvantage, because we have to travel very long, and there's always a time difference. And we have to suffer from the jet lag. And the fact is, that most of the tournaments are -- most of them are in America or in Europe, so if the WTA could have some more tournaments in Asian countries for Japanese players, things would be easier.
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