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April 18, 1999

Billie Jean King


Q. Billie, the level of Monica's performance today, how would you evaluate that, rate that? You've seen all the great players over the years. How well did she play well today?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: She played unbelievably well. I don't know, I was looking at her this weekend and this last week, and she's getting physically and physically stronger, and I just think it will be interesting to see her the rest of the year, if she can sustain this physical fitness aspect of her tennis. She's hitting the ball as well as I've ever seen her, she's definitely a better net player, she's got more variety, plus she has what she's always had, her trademark, she's great off both wings, she's incredibly accurate with spin and pace. It's incredible how hard she hits the ball, and her footwork, and just getting in position. Her one-handed forehand to me looks the best it's ever looked. She even has a little better slice backhand than she's had in the past, and her serve looks as good as it's ever looked. So for her, she just will get in the best shape of her life physically, I think she can win anything this year.

Q. Is she back to the best level she's ever been at?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: I think as far as her understanding of the sport, I think her understanding of herself, and what she needs to do to get back. Monica is very bright. She knows what she needs to do. She'd be the first one to tell you that if she can get consistent with her physical training, then that's going to make the difference, I think. But it's interesting how she's tried -- at Kiawah a year ago she asked me about volleys, we went through a lot of volleys, and went through a lot of court positioning, when someone volleys, and she was really, for the first time -- because I've worked on it with her a little bit in the past Fed Cups, but she was really pumping me for questions, so I knew she was really ready to shift into someone who could occasionally come up to net with great ground strokes. And she continually is a sponge when it comes to information. She listens and she grasps what I'm saying very quickly. I don't have to go through much with her at all anymore. And now I'm starting to have a code or cues with all the players. The more I can be around them the faster we can just get there. There's a couple of things I'm emphatic with Monica, which I'm not going to share with you, but I feel it's real important to her game.

Q. Billie, what's the difference between winning Bausch and Lomb last week, playing well here, and actually putting that together over two weeks to win a French or something?

CAPTAIN BILLIE JEAN KING: Well, I think last week gave Monica confidence, but more importantly Monica is a really good team player. We really don't want to go to Italy, we want to stay in the United States, because most of the players play Bank of the West, which is right after Fed Cup. And yet Monica, I know, if I asked her to go, she's going to go. She's made a commitment to -- she said it on the interview with ESPN, she said we made a commitment last year to bring the Cup back this year. So she'll go. Does she want to go? Absolutely not. It's really a terrible week in the calendar for us, but we have to persevere. It will be interesting to see what happens, and who really says yes in the end and who doesn't when it gets down to if we go to Italy. I would like to have Italy to have the matches Friday and Saturday, for all the players, Italians, as well as Americans, to have at least Sunday to travel. I'd like to say how great the Croatian team has been and how gracious they have been under the circumstances, and I think it was wonderful. The people of Raleigh have just been the best. And I think it was great for Raleigh, the people in Raleigh to get to see Croatian players, their best players, and to see how well-- that there's so many international players that they don't really know about them, so I think this is helpful in taking tennis to the people, and letting people see how international our sport really is, and how many wonderful players there are in our sport. So I'd just like to say thank you to the Croatian team, as well.

End of FastScripts....

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