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November 13, 2006

Michael Chang


THE MODERATOR: Questions in English for Michael, please.

Q. Michael, please, two questions about the Masters Cup. One is last year a lot of the best players couldn't come because of injuries and so on. This time we have all the best players, but some of them didn't play the last Masters Series tournament at Paris-Bercy. Do you think there's something to do in the circuit about injuries and so on because of the difference between last year and this year?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think that when you come to the end of the year it's not an easy time for the players because tennis is one of the few sports that does not have an off-season. We play from January all the way through November, sometimes all the way into December.
So come the fall time of the year, you have a lot of players that are tired, a lot of players that are injured, and unfortunately last year it was a combination of both.
You know, I think that, you know, this is the season-ending Masters tournament. This is the eight best players in the world. I don't think there's one player that would not want to be here out of all the players. So, you know, unfortunately, if you're hurt and you know you can't play your hundred percent, you know, you don't really have a choice.
I think this year the players knew that. They scheduled their tournaments a little bit, you know, wiser, gave themselves some time to recuperate and be prepared so they can come in here feeling great without injury. So that's important.
You know, this week you've got the eight best players. As far as I know, they're all feeling great. You're gonna have some great tennis this week.

Q. Michael, my other question is some of the players who are here this year, it's like a trend that many of them, they don't have a permanent coach, they don't have a coach on a permanent basis, which was almost unthinkable some years ago for top players. Do you think that is a trend, that is just a moment in the sports..?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think what's important is that each of these players has a very important support group. Sometimes that may be consisting of a coach, sometimes that may be consisting of family, a hitting partner. I know some of them maybe don't have a coach but they have a hitting partner.
To be honest with you, none of these players would be here unless they have a strong supporting group, supporting cast. You know, the coach obviously plays a very, very important role, but none of these players, if they were by themselves, would be able to experience the success that they've had this year.

Q. My question is considering that Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson were pioneering African Americans who channeled the way for people like the Williams sisters -- because I have followed your career, being an American, being in New York, and I wondered where you had disappeared. Now I see you've reappeared, and more stronger than you've ever been in America. Like I'm wondering, is your philanthropic efforts that you are taking here, do you hope to have a legacy where you are as important as Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson was to African Americans coming into the fold?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think that's a great question. I think you take an incredible individual like Arthur Ashe and, you know, he's not only transcending the sport of tennis, but he's transcending, you know, his generation. He's making an impact in the lives of people.
You know, as far as leaving a legacy and all this stuff, you know, it really doesn't matter to me. The legacy for Michael Chang is not what's important to me; what's important to me is that my life count for something, my life is able to go out and to certainly impact the tennis world, but even more importantly to be able to impact lives not only here in China but around the world.
If I go and I spend my time doing my own thing, you know, going out and trying to accomplish things for my own glory, for other people to praise me and all that stuff, you know, that to me is just a selfish way of going about, you know, using your talents. I think God's given each one of us a talent or he's given us multiple talents, and, you know, our job is to go and to use those talents to bless others.
That's part of the reason why I'm here in China. You know, I spent the last, you know, five weeks in Beijing, you know, trying to get more fluent in Mandarin so that I can communicate with people that I love. You know, I feel like before it was such a burden for me. I see the warmth of the Chinese people here. For me not to be able to communicate the things I want to communicate to them is heart-breaking for me.
So, you know, I have this opportunity, and I've taken advantage of it. My Mandarin is not perfect, but I'm getting better. You know, I'd love to be able to come out here and impact, you know, the country of China, because they're close to my heart, they are exceptional people, and make an impact and bless them both on and off the tennis court. That, to me, is, you know, allowing me to allow my life to count for something other than just me, you know.

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