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September 18, 1999

Billie Jean King

Lindsay Davenport


LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Well, I wasn't scared. I thought going into the match -- I knew she was a hard hitter. I saw her play a few games against Conchita Martinez in the Open. She was hitting some great shots today and was hitting the ball deep, and I was getting some balls back, and she was making some errors. After I closed the first set out 6-4, I felt a lot of pressure off; that I kind of pulled out the close set and felt like I could go for my shots more, and played a little more aggressive in the second set.

Q. How is it for you to be motivated after a Slam?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: It's good. I think sometimes it's great to -- there's so much emphasis on the Grand Slams. And on one hand it's almost good to come back the next week and go on. And tennis is a sport that we play 11 months out of the year. You have to move on after every event. It's a little difficult, but with this team, we've done a great job about getting everybody up. And Monica and Serena have been supportive. And it's helped Venus and myself a lot.

Q. After New York, loud taxis, loud people, what's the best part to come back to California?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Well, I'm obviously from California and love California, and I love playing here. And we wish the crowd would have been a little more into it, but that's the way it goes. I love the conditions in California. I've played here my whole life. I'm happy to be back.

Q. Zina and Billie Jean, do you think the crowd would be more into it if the Russians had a chance to win either of those matches?

BILLIE JEAN KING: If you've been in Italy, and if you've been to Spain and Japan, they probably could say the same thing. We did win 5-Zip in Japan. They never stopped the whole time with their drums. And I loved it. I loved Spain, I loved Italy, the way they get into it. And I just wish we could get the Americans to truly get into it the way the other countries do. They really have it down to an art. They've got the banners, the chanting; they do it the whole match. They do it particularly when you change sides or change ends, I should say. And it's just -- we want the USA to get more demonstrative. I think it's great for the children to see how important it is to be on the Fed Cup team or the Davis Cup team. And our players need it. We play away, and it's crazy. And talk about noise. The US Open is nothing compared to Spain or Italy or Japan. So we would like it the way it is when we're on the road, basically, or our away matches, because first of all, we have a dream team. We have the best players in the world. And that in itself, as far as I'm concerned, should be enough to get pretty excited about, no matter what the score is. And also just to be loyal. I know people in tennis think they're supposed to be polite, but do whatever you can between points and when we're changing ends, just get going. The kids were the best part of the whole thing, up in the corner. That was awesome. The reason I asked Zina, I don't know if you're aware, but she is the assistant coach of the Fed Cup Team. And I wanted you to be clear on that, and that's why I want her up here. In the Fed Cup rules, they don't have rules for assistant coaches. That's why you don't see her come on court and not on the draw the other day. It's very disappointing to me personally that she can't be present every time we walk on the court as a team because she's been a great help to all of us. And particularly to me.

Q. Billie Jean King, with the original Dream Team with Michael Jordan and stuff, the crowds were pretty laid back. They weren't really like college basketball crowds because they knew in most of the games that the Americans would win. And also when it was a close match, matches in Boston, the crowd was quite demonstrative.

BILLIE JEAN KING: But you're talking about Americans, or on the road?

Q. I'm talking about Americans.

BILLIE JEAN KING: I'm saying I'd like to it to be different. We beat Japan 5-Love, and it didn't matter if their team was getting nailed to the wall. They were like in it for their team and just going crazy. And that's what I want. That's what I would like, personally. I go to a WNBA game or other women's team sports games, and it's loud and noisy and wonderful. That's what I'd like to see. I'm obviously prejudiced.

Q. Do you think the American audience, since you're favored, "They're going to win," "They're the dream team" --

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Americans all cheer for the underdog in a lot of sports, don't you think?

BILLIE JEAN KING: That's a good point. I feel like if they're going to cheer for the other team, why don't they go live there? That's how I feel.

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: They didn't cheer for the other team, really.

BILLIE JEAN KING: No, when they do. I said -- I didn't say today, but I know when I've played matches in America, let's say I'm playing against a Russian, everybody was, "Go, go," rooting for them. I said, "Fine, you don't want me to win? Why don't you go live in that country?" By the way, all the other players have said this. I'm telling you what we say in the dressing room. They'll come in and the player will be so cheesed off; they weren't even rooting for me. (Laughter.) And then we go on the road and people still aren't for us. (Laughter.)

Q. Lindsay, is that what you say?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I have never said that in my life.

BILLIE JEAN KING: I didn't say you.

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: You said "we all."

BILLIE JEAN KING: I said a lot of players do. You haven't, because you're polite. (Laughter.)

Q. Don't you think in the first match people were also cheering, they wanted it to be a match; when Elena went up, they were cheering for some drama in, maybe, the third set?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I was watching it on the ESPN feed, and there was no volume; so I couldn't hear.

BILLIE JEAN KING: I don't know. I can't remember, to be honest.

Q. Billie Jean, how would you rate Venus's serve-and-volley game today?

BILLIE JEAN KING: A beginning. I think her serve is a lot bigger than it was at the US Open. If you saw her at the US Open; I think it's much more connected. Her hitting partners kept track of what was going on, whether it's connected or disconnected. And percentage is definitely up compared to then. And as far as going in, Zina, do you have a comment on that, the serve, volley, do you want to make a comment?

ZINA GARRISON: I think the first step is she's decided that she does want to become a serve-and-volley player. It's not going to come overnight. And I would give her a good grade for today, especially for effort. It was a lot of pressure just to go out there and be the first match. And then you're trying something different. We talked about it, her and I talked about going to the sidelines a little bit. And she was just excited that she was making the moves to come up there, and I think that's a great step.

Q. So, Zina, would you say it's Venus's transition game that's really lacking, especially on the serve-and-volley? On that first volley she seems unsure where she should be.

ZINA GARRISON: I don't know if I really understand what you mean.

Q. Meaning getting from the service line to the --

ZINA GARRISON: Okay. I think, yeah, I think first of all, Billie said she had to basically work on having everything connected: Her serve, her toss, her body, everything. And making her weight and everything going forward into the court is going to help her become a better serve-and-volley and a better server. She's already a great server, but like Billie said, there's still a lot more speed that can be generated through her service motion, without even really trying. And I think that the transition part is going to come. It's experience. I was a serve-and-volleyer part of my career, basically. But it's just a matter of you having to play those matches over and over, where you become very comfortable with being up there. Like today, the girl hit cross-court backhand passing shots each time that she came in. It's just being aware of where the person passing shots might be. When you're just happy to get up there for the first time, those things will come.

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: That's the toughest part, sometimes, about coming in. We can all volley standing there. We can hit an approach shot, but when we come in, the person has a passing shot, that's the toughest shot. If this is the first day of trying to become a quote "serve-volleyer," it's going to take a year before she can split-step and cover it 100 percent. It takes a time to learn.

BILLIE JEAN KING: It's a different rhythm. Right now, getting her serve right, they didn't get here until Wednesday night because of the hurricane. We've only had two days to work on the serve. She wants to be a serve-volleyer. At least she's trying. And there's the serve, and then developing the point. Like you said, in the transition of going forward, that's hard for players who are used to playing only on the baseline. I'd like to see Lindsay go in more, quite frankly, because she has such great hands. She has the best hands in the game.

ZINA GARRISON: I told her that, too.

BILLIE JEAN KING: Great volley, best hands in the game, and you're tall. You just read the ball unbelievably well. So I just think occasionally -- I don't expect baseline players to go up all the time, but when they get one around that service line not too fast, up every time; stay in control of the point. Because Lindsay hits the ball so pure -- she hits the ball the purest of anyone in the game. Shoot, if I had -- I just think you can do whatever you want. You're just a great athlete.

Q. Why are you shaking your head no?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I'm just lucky Venus was here to take it all this week. All that energy was focused there.

BILLIE JEAN KING: We can refocus it back to you, if you want.

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: It's very nice what they say, and who knows.

Q. Lindsay, which phrase to you is more frightening: "Venus Williams, serve-and-volleyer," or "Lindsay Davenport, serve-and-volleyer"?

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Well, you know, I think as a player, if you have a lot of variety, you can change it up if they're doing well. Obviously, it's pretty scary if Venus becomes as good a serve-and-volleyer as she is a baseliner. And knowing that I've got to start doing that, too.

Q. Zina, you're on the U.S. team that played Russia in '90, do you want to contrast how it was then to what you're seeing now as a coach?

ZINA GARRISON: Well, it's totally different. As a player, you're just really, really focused on everything pretty much being centered around the players and yourself and getting yourself together. I've been really fortunate enough to really be on the other side and learn a lot, just from Billie, about what it takes to prepare to get the player ready. Which there's a lot of things you take for granted: Making sure that their rackets are ready, or making sure that maybe they need some tissue or whatever. But it's a whole, complete game. And I think the understanding of -- I think a great thing for even the players to understand is how the coach and the player works together, and the player and coach works together; how it becomes a team. And I wish that when I was playing that I would just maybe have been a little more aware of that because it's just a team effort from everybody.

Q. Billie Jean, there seemed to be a lot of people walking this way to head into the gym to see the women's basketball team play, were you there?

BILLIE JEAN KING: Yes, I watched them play Poland and saw them afterwards. I tried to touch base with many of them. When I get a chance to go to a basketball game, which I truly love basketball, I make an effort to go and say hi to them, yes. Yes, I'm very heartened, but women's sports has a long way to go.

Q. What do you think the odds are of the U.S. losing tomorrow?

BILLIE JEAN KING: We better not lose.

LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Slim. We're going to do it.

End of FastScripts….

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