November 17, 1997
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, NEW YORK
Q. You guys were 4-2 in the last set. How did it turn around there?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Basically from 4-2, is that what you're asking in the third set? Yeah, well, that game we didn't really have -- yeah, two break points. A second shot I missed two second shots pretty badly and from 4-3 basically just didn't make any first vollies. And that let them, you know, basically get into the match and make it to 4-All.
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Christmas present early.
Q. When you were sitting at that last game getting ready to serve, you kind of took your hands --
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Trying to focus.
Q. What were you thinking at that point?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: I was thinking that I had to hold or it was over. And I was trying not to think. I was trying to think, you know, you always try to hold. You should take hold, but shouldn't think it's over because it's -- it was a bad way to end. I didn't want to end it that gross. But I'll forget about it. Especially because we were up. I felt the whole match we're going to win. Can you hear me? There you go.
Q. When you came in here -- when did you come in yesterday?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Thursday. Wednesday, sorry. I have been here five days.
Q. What were you thinking when you walked in the Garden for the last time today?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: I didn't -- really didn't think today was going to be my last match. I think we'd win today. I thought we had a tough first round, toughest we could get. So I've been thinking about it. I had two months to think about it. I haven't played since the U.S. Open and, you know, I'm okay. It's the right decision for me. And regardless of whether it ended today or Thursday or Friday -- I mean, I would have preferred to have won the tournament and gone out with a win. But I'm still going out in a good year, which is what I wanted to do. I always evaluated my years by the Grand Slam, and we won two this year, so, it wasn't a great year. But it was a good year in terms of the Grand Slams.
Q. How is it in terms of Natasha, you've had a long partnership -- (Inaudible.)
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Well, overall it's very satisfying. I think this is probably the first reaction I think, if I remember our relationship, you know, professional relationship with Gigi is that it's been great and wonderful and very satisfying of the experiences and...
Q. Natasha, do you remember the first time you two ever met?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: No.
Q. You don't?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: The Satellites, wasn't it?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: No, I don't remember it.
GIGI FERNANDEZ: You played Satellites.
NATASHA ZVEREVA: You asked me, I don't remember it.
GIGI FERNANDEZ: I'm trying to refresh your memory. It was a long time ago.
Q. You were down 15-40 but ahead 5-3 in the second set, and that was one of the greatest points I've seen. How would you rate that? Is it really up there?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Yeah, I hit that flick shot. That was a momentum changer. I thought because we ended up holding and then didn't win the set. I think if we lost the game, we could have lost that set. We just couldn't get put them away. We were up 4-2, and I believe at 3-1 we had chances to break and reset for a double break. And then, you know, I played a stellar last game, and that's tennis. But it was -- it ranked up there. It was one of the best points, yeah.
Q. Gigi, what are your thoughts about the woman's tour as you leave compared to what it was like when you came in?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: I think I'm leaving at the right time.
GIGI FERNANDEZ: No, I think it's very exciting right now. There's a lot of good players coming up and the new ranking system has created new names, you know, in the top of the rankings. Not just the same players all the time. I don't know if it's good or bad. I don't know if it's accurate, but... Martina has been great for tennis. Monica has come back somewhat. And I think it's at a good pace. I think the organization is in a little bit of a disarray, but I think they'll work it out. I think we need more leadership from the top ten players, which we haven't had for the last 15 years that we played when I first started playing. Martina and Chris kind of cared about the direction of women's tennis, and none of the top players do. And that's kind of why we're kind of not united, not to have the top players united. They never cared.
Q. Can you just talk quickly, Natasha, about what happened in the beginning of the year. You decided not to play together and what brought you back together and what kind of conversations did you have?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Well, we decided not to play. And what happened is that we both didn't have a partner in the middle of the year. And it was -- it was very -- luckily got hooked up pretty fast.
Q. Who called whom and when was this exactly?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: I called her.
GIGI FERNANDEZ: I was in Hilton Head when I found out I was supposed to play with Arantxa the whole year. And I found out that she was playing with Hingis at the French and she didn't tell me. And I said I better find a partner for the French. And I talked to Natasha because Natasha was supposed to play with McGrath before and she was injured, so...
Q. Natasha, do you have a partner lined up for next year?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Somewhat. I'm not absolutely a hundred percent sure.
Q. You and Hingis are undefeated together. Any chance you will be getting back together a few tournaments?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Doesn't look that way. I don't know, maybe accidently. I don't know what her plans are.
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Thank you.
Q. What will you miss most about Gigi?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: About Gigi, well, I think I'll miss a friend. That's probably, you know -- tennis is like it comes and it goes. I mean, you're you know, at the beginning of your career and then you're at the middle and then it's the end. And it's -- it's terrible that you're going to finish your career, but probably, you know, I don't know what Gigi's plans are about continuing her tennis in any other way or coaching or whatever, but most likely, I'm not going --
GIGI FERNANDEZ: I'm going to coach you?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: No. But most likely I'm not going to see her as much, so...
Q. When exactly did you arrive -- when did you -- (Inaudible.)
GIGI FERNANDEZ: I was going back and forth a lot -- actually, it was Lady Diana dying, because I was kind of watching, you know, I was going to quit, and then I won the French and Wimbledon and that kind of made me look at my life and where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do with it. And that was it. That was really it.
Q. What about that?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Just when somebody like that dies, it makes you think about your life and saying this is what I'm doing, yeah, I could be there tomorrow. And I if die tomorrow, am I doing what I want to be doing? And the answer is no. And I've done it for 15 years, and it's been great for 15 years, and I have other priorities in my life and other things I want to do and other things that are important that I want to pursue.
Q. What are some of the things you want to pursue outside of tennis?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Well, simple things like seeing my nephews. You know, I have five nephews that I've seen ten days in their lives. They range from two months to five years. And your family becomes more important. But, you know, what I'm going to do is produce events to raise money for charity. That's what I'm going to be doing next year, what my days are going to be like, it's that. I get a lot of satisfaction and giving back and raising money for charity. And that's what I'll do. I'm trying to get involved with the USTA and their development program to increase participation in sports, in tennis specifically. And hopefully that will happen. If that happens, then I'll be around. If that doesn't happen, then I'll be home in San Diego surfing and playing golf.
Q. What are the outstanding memories you'll take away from tennis?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: There's so many. It's been -- if somebody told me when I was growing up that I'll have a 15-year career and that I was going to win seven Grand Slams and two Olympic gold medals, I would have laughed. There's been so many highlights in my career. I've had great opportunities to travel the world and see things that people never get a chance to see, and I've made a lot of friends. And the titles, I don't consider that really important. You know, I had a successful career, and that's great. But I think the opportunities that tennis gave me are what I will remember.
Q. You were grabbing your shoulder the last few serves. Are you okay?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Yeah, just old. Overused. And I didn't -- I didn't play a match for too long, so I was -- I kind of hit it funny over here. I'm not quitting because I'm injured. I've been very lucky, knock on wood, still. I'm lucky I didn't have really major injuries. I had little injuries, pulled muscles. But 15 years I never had surgery and I was never out of the tour for more than two months. 15 years, 40 weeks a year, it's a long time. So to answer your question, I'm looking forward to sleeping in the same bed for more than one month. So that will be fun. I've never done that.
Q. What did you do the last two months and did you miss tennis?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: No, I didn't miss it. No. You know what I will miss about tennis is the actual competing, being out there and performing, you know. I won't miss anything that goes around. I won't miss traveling. I won't miss practicing or having to be fit or -- I will be fit because I want to be in a different way, not the way you have to be fit to be a tennis pro. Just I'll have more freedom to do whatever I want. And I just last couple months just been enjoying life. I went to Hawaii and played golf. I have a house in Aspen and went there for a little while and spent about two weeks with my family and nephews, which is more than I spent in the last five years. And they're all important.
Q. Any moment in the future -- (Inaudible.)
GIGI FERNANDEZ: I'm open to suggestions. I don't have any plans. Natasha mentioned coaching, but right now I have no plans to coach. And I'm not against it, but I don't think -- I mean, if I were to coach, I would prefer to play with kids. I like working with kids. And I would enjoy working with kids. I wouldn't necessarily want to coach a tour pro. So then why I did I get out? The reason I'm quitting is not because I couldn't play, it's because I didn't want to travel the Tour anymore. But I like working with kids, so I would consider that.
Q. Could you elaborate a little more on the feeding?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: The feeding?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: What feeding?
Q. You mentioned that was something you wouldn't miss, something that went along with the Tour, I guess, the meals -- I think -- I'm pretty sure you used those words about --
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Did I?
Q. That was something -- sounded like feeding, things you wouldn't miss.
GIGI FERNANDEZ: I think you have to have a certain diet when you're a professional athlete. And like today, I played at 6:00. What did I do all day? Sat in my room. That's kind of boring after -- you know, you do it because you have to, but it gets old after a while. But, you know, the food, I I've never really deprived myself of anything. I've been conscious about nutrition and my health, but I'll continue to do that. But that's not a big thing. Room service, I won't have to do room service anymore. I won't miss that.
Q. Natasha nearly won the Grand Slam this year and I was wondering if you thought about that, considered that for yourself now that you're in a good position for that.
GIGI FERNANDEZ: If I considered her winning the Grand Slam?
Q. You considered it as -- as a deciding when to retire or not.
GIGI FERNANDEZ: No, no. Because, I mean, really, our best chance to win the Grand Slam was 93/94. That was not -- I didn't consider that. I mean, I guess I felt that we -- if we kept playing, we could still catch Martina and Pam. But Natasha didn't really want to play anymore. So I didn't just want to go on playing with just anybody. I didn't want to pick partners. If Natasha and I couldn't play together, then I probably would have found the drive to play one more year. And but to just go out and play with anybody was not a motivation with me.
Q. So she decided she didn't want to play with you next year?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Yeah.
Q. When did she say that?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: L.A.
Q. That was August?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Yeah.
Q. Did that contribute to your --
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, I didn't want to just play with a random person. I would have played with her because it would have been a motivation to me to catch up with a Martina and Pam. But it seemed like we could play a couple more years and we might catch them. We won the U.S. Open and we had three to go. But I just didn't want to play with anybody. Starting a new partnership at 34.
Q. Had she canceled at the end of last year too?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Yeah.
Q. Did she give you a reason after you guys played for so long? Are you too old?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: Am I too old? She said that?
GIGI FERNANDEZ: She said I wasn't good anymore when we won the French and Wimbledon. It's like a natural thing. Of course I'm not as good as I was five years ago. It's like normal. You can't be good for the rest of your life, everybody's game -- and she didn't want to deal with that, and I don't blame her. If I was having to carry somebody day in and day out, and she could play, she could play with Lindsay, you know, Lindsay could be on her team or Jana, whoever she chooses to play with. They're young. And it's like how they play doubles now. My doubles game is different than how they play now. Now everybody bangs the ball. Nobody has finesse or angles the ball. It's harder and faster now. That's not my game. My game is still good, still wins tournaments. But she wants to do something different, and I respect that.
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