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September 3, 1999

Mary Joe Fernandez

U.S. OPEN, Flushing Meadows, New York City

WTA: Questions for Mary Joe.

Q. Nice second set for you?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Yes, it was great.

Q. Did you just feel really comfortable out there?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: I felt like I was timing the ball well. The courts are kind of quick, so I felt today I was a step quicker getting to the ball. She hits a really hard, flat ball. I was prepared better. I got in a nice little groove there towards the end.

Q. You've been through so much with your wrist. How much more (inaudible)?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: That's great. It is tough when you struggle with an injury. The wrist has been a tough one for me. Being able to kind of bounce back and be able to play well in one of the biggest tournaments of the year, is always a big surprise, and it's a bonus.

Q. You beat Serena earlier this year. Do you think you can take down Venus next?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: I'm going to try. You know, it's going to be very tough. She's playing very well. She does everything well. There's not really a huge weakness in her game. It's tough. She plays good offense, good defense, has a huge serve. I'm going to have to play really, really well, play really aggressively, take chances, serve really well. Hopefully I can put it all together and we'll see. But I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Serena told us yesterday she's volunteering to design your wedding dress for you.

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: We talked about it already at Fed Cup. She has very good ideas.

Q. When are you getting married?


Q. And how did you meet him? Through Lindsay?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: No, through my agent. My agent is Gavin Forbes.

Q. So he's not your agent?


Q. What design did she suggest?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: She wants to add a little color to the white. I've actually seen a few dresses that have a little color, which makes it nice. She has good ideas.

Q. Do you have a dress already?


Q. How does your wrist feel?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: It's better. Every day, it feels a little bit better. That's been really good.

Q. Not a hundred percent?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: It's getting there. It's a little sore. It gets really stiff more than anything else. I've been doing a lot of work on it, treatments. It's under control.

Q. Can you remember the last time you didn't feel pain in that wrist?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Yeah. It was really good earlier in the year, the whole European season, Wimbledon. Really up until Stanford it was feeling really good. I thought I was kind of over the hump.

Q. Is this something you think you're going to have to live with for the rest of your life?


Q. It's a question of a whole career's worth of degeneration?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: I think. I think the wrist is a tough part of the body to get hurt. It has so many small little bones, ligaments and tendons in there. It's tough to heal fast. I'm pretty prepared mentally that it's not going to be a hundred percent ever, which is okay. As long as I can keep it under control and not feel like I'm going to have arthritis when I get older, then I'll be okay.

Q. Does that mean that you also have to be mentally prepared not to be a hundred percent player for the rest of your career?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Well, obviously you want your body feeling a hundred percent all the time. I don't think anybody's body ever feels a hundred percent every day. I still think I can play really well even though my wrist doesn't feel like it did a few years ago. It's something you learn to deal with and it becomes normal to you, so it's all right.

Q. You've been now around for a number of years. How do you think the game is going to change in the coming five or six years?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: I just see it getting better and better. I see so much talent coming up, so many good athletes. I think that's been the big difference in the last few years. All these young girls coming up are really, really good athletes. They move well, they're strong, really, really fit. I see that trend continuing. They're going to keep hitting the ball hard and being powerful. You know, I just see it getting very, very strong.

Q. What quality of Steffi's do you think women's tennis will miss the most in terms of her character and play?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: People will miss seeing that famous forehand. Really the forehand was so good because of her speed, she was so fast. I think that's one of the reasons everybody else got fitter and started to really work on fitness and on movement. She'll be always known for her big forehand, but her big forehand was good because she moved extremely well.

Q. When you went out on court against her, did you fear the forehand more or the speed?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Yeah, it was the combination of both. But it was unbelievable. You'd go out there and it would take you a couple games to get adjusted. It was a different level of tennis. You hit a ball that would normally go to your opponent's backhand. She was there in a split second hitting a winner with her forehand. You would be like, "Wow, I just hit a good shot cross-court and she ran around it." A different notch, a different level of tennis.

Q. The whole process was pretty demoralizing?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: It was tough playing against her. It was very tough. She will be missed. She brought a lot to the game. She was a great champion. I think she raised the level of everybody else's game because of it.

Q. I know you're friends with Lindsay. Having seen what she's been able to do recently, not necessarily late in her career, but she's more established now. Do you talk about it and say, "Maybe you can do the same thing"?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Oh, no. I'm much older than Lindsay. I've five or six years older than she is. She has tremendous power. She's always had it. In the last few years, she's been able to really execute her shots. I think losing the weight and getting really fit made her believe in herself even more. You know, nobody hits the ball better and cleaner than Lindsay Davenport. If she's on, it's tough to get her on the defense.

Q. Does a finesse player like yourself have a real shot?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: I think you have to take it one match at a time. You know, really a little bit of luck helps, a player that you don't go up against drops out or something like that. But you never know. I mean, I've been around a long time. Obviously every time you step on the court, you're there to win. At the end of the day, that's all you can do.

Q. If I remember correctly the old commercial, your mom is there saying, "I'm going to check out the guys for Mary Joe."


Q. Did she check out Tony?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Oh, yeah. Mom always has to check them out.

Q. Was it a tough test for him? How did he do?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: He did well. We wouldn't be getting married if he didn't do well.

Q. Was this kind of an interesting match to play? It was an interesting match to watch. Watching it early on, it was, "Look at Mary Joe." Then it was like, "What's going on here?"

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: It's tough playing Dominique because she hits the ball hard and she's a little bit streaky. You know she's going to be going for the big shots, putting you on the defense. You try to take that away from her and try to move her around as best as possible. But you always have to be ready for her to come up with some great shots because she times the ball really, really well, has a really good forehand. Yeah, I mean, I was lucky in the first set after being up 5-2, she played three great games to get back to 5-All. I played a good game to break her. From then on, you know, I felt that I was controlling most of the points. That was the key.

Q. Could you possibly look at this as your last best chance to win a Grand Slam?

MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: I try not to look at it like that. Just try to play each match.

End of FastScripts….

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