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August 25, 1997

Anna Kournikova

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. Can you just talk about your match today and how that sort of sets you on a good pace for this Open?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, yeah. I started off real well. It's good for me to start well, that I kept going through the match the same way. I was very happy with the way I played for the first match, for the first round.

Q. How about playing in New York? Are you going to do anything while you're here, see anything, go out?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I mean, you go out every day, you know, to eat, have dinners. But, you know, I don't have much time while we're playing. But after we're finished playing, I will definitely go somewhere. I have great memories, you know, in New York from last year, like at home here.

Q. What kind of expectations do you have for the two weeks, Anna? Do you have any definite goals or do you just want to play well?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I just want to play well and be, you know, real consistent playing, just go out there and really focus on each match.

Q. How well do you think you can do?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Everybody, you know, can do well. So, I mean, it's hard to say. But I'll try to give it all I've got in every match.

Q. Anna, after your match, there's like a hoard of people coming for your autographs and that kind of thing. How have you handled sort of this popularity that you have on The Tour? Is it distracting for you or is it sort of flattering for you?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I'm playing for the fans, so whenever they come and ask for autograph, I always try to give it to everybody because I'm out there for the people. I'm playing and I hope they enjoy it.

Q. How do you handle sort of the groupies that kind of follow you around?


Q. Like a lot of the young boys that sort of follow you around and yell out, "I love, Anna," during the match.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think that happens to everybody.

Q. What did you do to get ready for the tournament? I know you didn't play two weeks ago in Canada because you couldn't get in there.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah, I just practiced at home, really was just getting ready.

Q. How do you feel about the restrictions the WTA puts on you?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, it's a little bit hard for me, you know, like coming into this event with no matches before. Like last week I didn't play anything. So it's a little bit hard, but I'm trying to play just regular matches before each tournament to get ready.

Q. When do the rules loosen up? When can you start playing full-time?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Like next June.

Q. Next June?


Q. Had you played in that stadium in this tournament before? I can't remember.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah, last year.

Q. Did it feel different this year?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, it was probably circumstances were different. Last year I played there for the first time a night match against Paulus. That's where I made my first biggest match ever. So this year I was already, you know, played on centre court at Wimbledon, and I'm used to that big kind of court. So I felt very comfortable.

Q. Did it feel like the centre court? Now we've got a bigger one and everything.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: It's huge still.

Q. People are talking but adding a certain appeal to tennis, women's tennis. I don't want to really call it sex appeal. How do you react to that? Do you like to hear that? Does it bother you?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I think, that tennis is a lady's sport, so we should look out there like ladies. I just try to look after myself and really play.

Q. Do you think people sort of concentrate more on your looks and everything like that instead of your tennis?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: They wouldn't come here if I wouldn't be playing.

Q. Anna, would you like to become an American citizen?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: That has never been an issue yet, but I never -- I didn't come to Canada because I was waiting for something like that, for citizenship or anything. I'm a Russian citizen, so I have to have more time for my Visas to travel. I need Visa for every country, France, England, everything, Canada, so I didn't wait the time for the Visa. Didn't get it.

Q. Do you feel more like an American now or do you feel more like a Russian?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Sure, I feel a little bit like American. I grew up here. Since I've been ten I've been here, but I'm still Russian.

Q. Who is your coach now?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Nick Bollettieri.

Q. How many tournaments are you going to play after the US Open? How many can you play?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think like nine. I'm not sure. Nine or ten, nine.

Q. You're at eight.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Until June, next June.

Q. You mean eight more?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Eight more or nine more, I'm not sure.

Q. Do you know what your schedule is going to be?


Q. But you're playing world team tennis?


Q. Why are you doing that, just to get more matches?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah, it will be a very good experience for me I think to play a little bit more matches, maybe with some of the top players. It will be good for me.

Q. Are you surprised that Lucic was allowed in the tournament, even though she's too young?


Q. What do you think about it?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: It was very strange for me because last year I couldn't play like French, I believe, or Wimbledon, something like that. And my ranking was high enough to get me into the Grand Slam, but I couldn't because of the age restriction. And I think it's unfair that they're letting her play right now when I wasn't able to play last year. So it's very unfair, I think, to me and to all other players. Because if you make a rule, you have to, you know, stay to that same rule. You can't make any exceptions if you already made the rule. So it's pretty unfair to me, I think.

Q. Are you able to appreciate the rule, though, why they made it? Or do you think it's kind of silly?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I still think everybody's different. Doesn't mean what happened to some of the other girls, doesn't mean it's going to happen to me. Obviously, you know, I'm still here, and I am sure I'm going to be here, and nothing's going to happen to me. So I think everybody's different. They shouldn't just make those kind of rules. I've been practicing all my life to play, and I'm just like, you know, waiting right now. For what, I don't know.

Q. Do you remember which one it was that you weren't allowed in last year?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, I don't know for sure. I was a hundred something, like 110. I could get like into one of the Grand Slams.

Q. Either Wimbledon or the French?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah, it was something like that because I played the US Open last year.

Q. What are your expectations here of yourself? How well do you think you can do here?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, like I said, I'm going to try to give all my best in every match and really concentrate on each match. So I'm going to take it step at a time.

Q. What is the one thing that you like best about being a tennis player?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, you know, I'm doing what I love to do, so I really enjoy playing tournaments, I really enjoy playing matches, being out there for the crowd. I think that, you know, helps me a lot when I do well and get my confidence up. I think when I win matches, you know, I enjoy it very much.

Q. What, if anything, do you miss out on having this life, having this tennis life? Do you miss out on what the other girls are doing?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I don't think I'm missing anything. Maybe just being home a little bit more. But I think that, you know, I love to travel, it's good for me. Because, you know, so I don't get bored staying in one place for too long. Right now I couldn't stay in one place for more than two months. I would probably want to go somewhere. I don't think I'm missing anything.

Q. What do you like about the city? Are you staying in the city?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah. New York, you know, it's a very fast city. So everything keeps going like energizer. I have great memories from here from last year. I really like the city.

Q. I don't know if you talked about this at the beginning, but Sabine is a very good player. Are you surprised that you beat her so easily?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah. I was getting ready for a really tough match. She's a great player, doesn't give anything away. But I think that I started off real well. That's why she, you know, didn't get into the match. I was getting ready for a tougher match.

Q. Are you concerned about your next opponent, might be Spirlea, so it's quite a difficult draw for you?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, when you're not seeded, you always get seeds. Anyhow, I would get somebody who is a good player. So it is going to be a tough match also.

Q. What did you think about the attention you got at Wimbledon? They made a big fuss about you over there. Was it something you were able to look at and laugh at?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I didn't make a point of it or something. But I think that all of the young players got a lot of attention over there, Martina, Williams, I think I was just one of them.

End of FastScripts….

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