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April 28, 2002

Billie Jean King


BRUCE LEVY: Questions for Billie Jean, please.

Q. Just talk about Meghann's performance today, Billie Jean.

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Meghann, as a rookie, it was her first match ever in Fed Cup. I mean, what an indoctrination for her. She was really looking forward to it. It was so close. I mean, she was not happy with herself. I thought she did great. She left her guts on the court, which is all you can do. But she felt like she didn't play that well. I think we have to take our hats off to Schwartz, Barbara, because she just really played two terrific matches. She's a hard player to play. I mean, she's a big lefty. I thought she played the big points in both singles matches better than the other -- our players. When it was crucial, she came through with a shot - with a big shot some of the times. But just played better on those particular critical points, and that's the deal. That's the difference. Obviously, we're very disappointed. But all of us have agreed this is a short-term loss for a long-term gain. So I think our attitude's good and upbeat. I think this may be the first time we're going to have to play - I don't know what they call it - what do they call it? The next round?

BRUCE LEVY: Qualifying.

BILLIE JEAN KING: Qualifying. I don't think we've ever had to do this. It's the same thing. There will be a draw, I think, May 3rd. And find out who we're going to play and where we're going. Then I'll start trying to ask players to play. But I don't think we've ever been in qualifying. Not in my -- I don't think so.

BRUCE LEVY: Holland.

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Oh, thank God (laughing)! I wasn't the coach. Who was the coach? Martina Navratilova was the coach! I have to go tease her (laughing)! No, I'm kidding.

Q. When you were talking about long-term gain earlier, what do you mean by that?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Well, I think it's difficult when you get down to three team players. We had to forfeit our second match; that's never happened since I've been playing Fed Cup. That's unfortunate. We knew how crucial that first match was yesterday when Monica played Schwartz. That was huge. Then, of course, today. I mean, look at the match that Monica just had against Fauth. I mean, she beat her very comfortably. We could have been in -- of course I don't like talking about "could have," "would have," "should have." Those are easy to talk about. But that's the breaks, when you have to forfeit a match. So, you know, it's the best we could do under the circumstances.

Q. Meghann was saying she thought that she played too tentatively at times. Second set, she was up a break, I think, at 4-3 and played very tentative in that game. Even on the matchpoint, I mean, the wind was swirling a bit.

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: I think she's right. I think she assessed it right. She kept telling me the whole match, you know, "I'm playing tentatively. I need to keep hitting out." You know, we tried everything. "Sha-wing." I say, "Sha-wing" or whatever - whatever you do to try to be aggressive. She hurt her back earlier this year. I mean, it's fine now. But I think she's had a hard time getting back from that. I think it's just going to take some time. Also the last two or three weeks Monica's felt she can't feel the ball. So between those two - one not playing aggressively enough and the other one feeling she can't feel the ball - it's a tough go. Also, the women chose clay because we're into our clay court season in Europe. I personally wish we could have gotten the players to go on hardcourt. That's what they wanted. I'm going to reassess that again. I just -- I don't know what would have happened if we had chosen hardcourt, if I would have gotten any players. So that's my dilemma all the time. So those are the kinds of questions... But I think, you know, it's always easy in hindsight. Hindsight's a piece of cake. We all can Monday-morning quarterback forever. I'm not going to do that. They were too good. And I think Monica feels like she's feeling the ball better after this fourth match, so that's good news. And the other good news is both Monica and Meghann want to play in the doubles. So at least you can't say they don't want to play, they're trying to duck, which I think says a lot. You know, it's real easy after you lose to just want to duck and not play, and everybody's still all hopping around trying to play. And I think we want to end on a good note, no matter what. Because these do go in the history books, these two matches. And we don't want to -- we don't want it to be 5-zip, that's for sure. At least we're at - what are we at now, 3-1? That's better than 4-zip. So we're looking forward. We were looking forward immediately after we lost to Austria. They played great. And I think this is what's so wonderful about Fed Cup. There's 101 countries playing; anything can happen. You know, everybody thought we're a shoo-in coming down here. It's been a difficult week, as everybody knows. We never could imagine a player would be removed from the team. You would still think, with Monica and Meghann and Lisa - Lisa being the No. 1 player in the world in doubles, she hasn't gotten to play yet - you would think somehow we could probably get by in this match even with what we had. And we didn't. I think Barbara Schwartz just played a couple of the best matches probably in her life. I don't know, what did she say? She's got to be pretty pleased.

Q. Yeah. She thinks that, you know, if she didn't have the injuries over the last couple of years, she was capable of that.

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Yes, I think so, too. I would agree with her. She's very tall, she's big. She's hard to play.

Q. Aside from the obvious, any regrets about the way the week went?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: My only regret is we didn't win. Otherwise, absolutely not. We're a great team. We're all together in this. Not only the team, not only Monica, Meghann and Lisa, but our support team, and everybody in the USTA has been absolutely fantastic. Every single person's on the same page on this. So we're just going to go forward and put together a great team the next time we play - wherever we end up playing. And we plan -- Monica already said next year we have to bring the Fed Cup back to the United States. And then she goes, "I wonder if I'll be playing" (laughing). She said, "If I'm not playing, either way I'll come and root for you. We're going to bring the Fed Cup back to the United States of America in 2003." Americans are great people. Americans know how to play.

Q. Would you ask Jennifer next year?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Wow... You know what, I don't know. I've got to just calm down and just reflect. And I would imagine - and I don't like to speculate - but I don't think - probably at least as long as I'm Captain - that she would come back now, I would think. But that's speculation. I don't like to assume anything. I'm always very open to start over, but I'm also older and have more history behind me and understand that relationships are the most important in the world, not tennis matches. It's very easy to say at 58, 59. When you're in the thick of it, you think it's so important, you think the whole world knows who you are. It's a very tiny universe, sports. So...

Q. Any communication with her since she left?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: No. I offered to speak with her. She didn't want to.

Q. Lisa said yesterday that even if you lost today, that it was worth taking a stand on principle with Jennifer, and that that's how the team felt. Do you agree with that?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Yes. That's why I did it.

Q. Your most important job may be recruiting. What about a team with the Williams sisters, Lindsay Davenport?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Oh, I've already been talking to them.

Q. How does it look?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: I would say it looks decent. I think we have a good chance with Venus to play for sure. I think Lisa would probably be available, Meghann would probably be available. I haven't got there yet. But I have talked to Venus about at least playing this year at some juncture, and she said most likely if she could play it would be July. She hasn't said yes for sure, so don't say she's playing, okay? Do not say that!

Q. What about Serena?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Serena didn't give me an answer as to whether she'd be interested or not. Venus was more forthcoming with, "Yeah, I think I want to play." Serena said ask her when it's closer to the time.

End of FastScripts….

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