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July 21, 2002

Billie Jean King



Q. Can you talk about the play of Monica today.

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: I thought Monica played better today. She hit -- was much more aggressive today off the ground particularly, and also a little bit on her serve. I think that made a big difference. I actually thought Smashnova played better today as well. I mean, I don't know how she can keep running in this heat, but... Almost like a David and Goliath story every time , because of the Israelis here and the Old Testament. All of that goes through my head. You look at Smashnova versus Lindsay or Monica, it reminds me of David versus Goliath. I think Smashnova had her best year ever. She's finally up to - whatever - 16, 17 in the world. You can see why. She's really hitting through the ball better. She's always been very steady and a real good retriever, but she does do more off her shots than she used to. She's much more aggressive. She's very tiny. So she does a great job - really strong and fit.

Q. What are your thoughts right now? You guys clinched it 3-0. Now you're going out to play more matches. Is it hard to stay up for that?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: It's definitely harder to stay up. Lindsay was teasing me when I walked into the tent just now, "You know how it's difficult for me to play these matches." And I think it is, I think especially for players who play better under pressure, which Lindsay is definitely one of those players, as well as Monica, the very top women. That's why they are where they are. We talked about it already in the lounge. I said, "So I'm allowed to (inaudible)?" She said, "Yes, keep telling me. Just give me some space, but make sure you tell me if I'm letting up."

Q. It's for the fans?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: It is for the fans, you're right, and it's our job as professional athletes. We're entertainers. That's our job, I think, to always give the best show we can no matter what the situation.

Q. What are some of the positive things that you say when you're talking to them during the matches?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Well, it really depends on the player. For instance, Monica really does not want me to talk to her. She needs a lot of space. If you notice, she has her rituals that are absolutely defined when she sits down. She has the bottles lined up a certain way. She wants a certain temperature. It really varies. She's very clear on what she wants. So with Monica, I give her a lot of space. She asked me not to say, "Good shot" this particular tie. Even if it was a great shot, don't say anything - unless I feel like she's making some really big mistakes, and then I'm supposed to say something. So really this is the most quiet I've ever been with her. And then with Lindsay it varies. I have to really be alert to where she's at emotionally, whether I should say something or give her a lot of space. Basically we talk about tactics or the wind or the conditions and just keep track. Like on one side, remember you're with the wind. On the other side, when you change sides, you're against the wind. You've got to really think about it before you walk out there and play a point then, "Oh, yeah." You've got to be absolutely clear before you start. And just little things like that.

Q. How would you assess Monica's mental state last night or before the match?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: No, this is typically Monica. This is just common of Monica. She's very intense - on and off the court; she just is. She's very clear on her rituals and all the things she has to do to get ready. She's always been this way. Nothing's changed. This is probably the first time you've seen her this many days in a row or whatever in this many matches. If you're around her, she's all business-like, even when we're back at the hotel. She has a lot of stuff she has to do. She's a very busy person. She accepts responsibility for a lot of things.

Q. Look ahead a little bit now. You'll have Sweden, is that right?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: No. We haven't had the draw yet, was my understanding.

Q. I thought you had it.

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Boy, you're ahead of me. See, I don't try to go ahead. Do you know if it's home or away? I thought we had the draw like in the fall. I think they may be in the World Group, but I don't think we had the actual draw, have we? I don't know. I'm sure Sweden's in the World Group.

Q. So you don't play another Fed Cup match for the rest of 2002?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Correct, because we lost to Austria. If we had beaten Austria and then won this round in the World Group... Yeah, we went down the loser's bracket here. If we stayed in the winner's bracket, then we potentially would have played -- we were going to have it in November this year, right, the final?

THE MODERATOR: End of October.

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: End of October, that's right, right before the World Championships for the women, which is going to be in LA this year for the first time. So we will know for next year - since we'll stay in World Group - we'll know what our draw is in the fall.

Q. What do you do between now and the next match?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: I just keep up with them. Like I leave messages to say "well done" or I just say, "Checking in. How are you?" We talk. I'll be going to the LA tournament, so I'll see them there. I don't really say very much, but it's when you're not around that I'll say something. But if you're around enough, you just leave messages or talk to them. Monica tends to talk more by phone. Lisa E-mails.

Q. Will you keep this team together?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Well, I usually go by the rankings. So I'll wait until the end of the year and when it's time to select the next Fed Cup team, I'll start out with No. 1 and invite them, then go down to No. 2, 3. Do I want to keep them? Absolutely. I mean, Monica's always available. Lisa is always available. Meghann, so far, has been available. So that's really important, but I do have to go by rankings.

Q. Would you like to come back to Springfield for another Fed Cup tie?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Yeah, it was great. Are you kidding? I think it's fantastic. I think we should play in the evenings. But I've been here often (inaudible). It's like coming back to something familiar personally for me. Three of the four players that played played World Team Tennis here, so they knew exactly what kind of place we were going to play on. They were thrilled because they played on the stadium court and they said it's such a great stadium. They were very excited about coming to Springfield.

End of FastScripts….

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