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June 24, 2007

Amelie Mauresmo


THE MODERATOR: Welcome to a rather wet but hopefully temporarily wet Wimbledon. A great pleasure in presenting our reigning ladies Wimbledon champion, Amélie Mauresmo. Who would like to ask the first question.

Q. Happy to be back?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: Very happy, yeah. I was actually here the last weekend before going to Eastbourne on the Monday. Yeah, I mean, everything is just coming back into the mind, the great memories of last year, of course, and the atmosphere that I like to feel here, even though it was a little empty the last weekend.
I enjoyed the moment. I'm still enjoying it right now.

Q. Did you get a particular tingling when you walk through and see your name on the honor board, know you have your member's badge?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: I don't know if you can really put some specific words on that. Just an overall good feeling. You feel proud and happy and really enjoying the moment. Yeah, what else can I say? I'm just really looking forward to start the tournament. That's now what I'm really looking forward to.

Q. What do you think the many changes in Wimbledon, for example, Hawk-Eye, equal prize money, roof of Centre Court? Does it work well for the players?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: Personally I think it's great. It's really showing that in the same time of keeping the traditional part of the tournament, the tournament also tries to really evolve in terms of the Hawk-Eye, of course, technology. I think it's great.
I personally do think for the crowd, for the players, and for the people watching on TV, it's a good thing. I definitely think it puts more entertainment into the game.
Equal prize money, I've expressed myself a lot on that subject. Really I think it's showing that it's a step forward for women in society in general. It's not only for here at Wimbledon. I think the sport has to be, in terms of men and women, showing the example to everybody. So I think that's another great step forward.
The new Centre Court, as it is this year, but as it's going to be in the next couple years with the tournament being able, in these kind of days, to still play some tennis, to still have the possibility of closing the roof, I think it's great.
Yeah, all these things are showing that Wimbledon is really wanting to stay ahead in terms of competition I guess with the other ones.

Q. Centre Court obviously is looking a bit different at the moment?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: Yeah, I stepped on it. I went to see a little bit when I first came here. It really is a little bit different. Not as closed as it used to be. Maybe could change a little bit the conditions of play. Maybe I guess could be a little bit more windy. We'll have to see in the next couple days how players feel about it.
But, again, it's just a step for this year. I guess everything is going to come back the way it should be for 2008.

Q. Do you think it's going to change how the crowd reacts, the interaction between the players and the crowd, as well?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: I don't know if that could be part of how players and the crowd are kind of talking to each other. But the reaction is going to be interesting I think on the Hawk-Eye to see how people in the stands are going to react to that, because they're not obviously used to it. It's really a brand-new thing.
It's going to be funny to really see how they react.

Q. When you look at your year since you were here last, would you agree you've had a slightly disappointing 12 months since then, bearing in mind you came here, won Wimbledon, Australian Open champion?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: Yeah, I mean, obviously I struggled a lot in the end of last year and again in the beginning of 2007. I definitely think, as you said, it was disappointing in some moments. I was able to still play the final of the championship at the end of last year, which was something I did not, in fact, really was expecting.
But, yeah, I'm definitely looking forward to find some confidence, some rhythm again. Obviously, it was much better this week in Eastbourne, looking at how I played, looking at how I felt on the court. Yeah, I'm just hoping that the grass season can really put me back to where I should be.

Q. Are you back to where you feel you should be physically?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: Yeah, I have to say this part was really concerning me for the last few months. It's been going on great since last week. I'm feeling good now. I'm hoping it's really going to keep up like this and even improve. You know, you put out some work to recover from surgery and everything.
You really just try to push yourself every practice, to be back at your best level, which is not so easy. It's finally satisfying to see that things are coming back and paying off.

Q. Does the change of surface help, as well? Is it less demanding?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: To come back and to come back on clay I think made it a little bit more difficult definitely.

Q. Did you have some sympathy with Ana in the French final? Did you sort of feel for her the way the nerves got the better of her?

Q. Yes.
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: She's learning. She's still very young, probably got a little bit -- got nervous probably a little bit, which can be understandable. But I still think if she can really get the lessons from it, it's still a great experience.
She played some great tennis throughout the tournament. Obviously didn't play as good as she wanted to in the final. I still think sometimes you have to go through these kind of maybe difficult experiences to learn and to get better. Yeah, I think it's everything probably positive for her after the French Open.

Q. Would you regard her as the best of the young players coming through?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: Well, for now definitely. I thought with the year that Nicole Vaidisova had, the Australian Open, the French Open last year, I thought she was a little bit ahead. Then you see Ana coming back very strong. She's been working very hard with Sven as well.
So, yeah, now for the moment she's taking the lead. I think it's good that they're all there. It's great competition in this little group of young guys.

Q. Can you compare and characterize your feeling coming into Wimbledon last year and coming into Wimbledon this year?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: That's tough. I don't even remember really well how I was feeling last year. But I guess I've always been very happy to be back at Wimbledon. Obviously last year, on the tennis, I didn't feel so good because I had a pretty poor week in Eastbourne. I really didn't know if I was going to be able to produce again the same kind of tennis I played the years before, reaching several times the semifinals.
But after my first match here I really felt great. I think it was really kind of a key moment for me last year. From nowhere in Eastbourne, I really came up to my first match, not playing a great player, but still producing on my part some great tennis. Then I thought, Okay, I have this Wimbledon feeling. It feels great.

Q. And this year you feel?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: Tennistically (sic) I feel a little bit better than last year. As I was saying, I still wait for this first match to happen. Yeah, it's going to be like, Okay, now I'm in the tournament. Now I really put myself in the tournament. It's finished enjoying the memories and everything. I really look forward for this to really start.

Q. So you don't consider yourself as top favorite?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: I do (laughter). In fact, I do, yeah. I think we are probably, I don't know, four or five to be able to get the trophy this year. Yeah, I do consider myself part of these four or five players.

Q. Could you explain more your feelings about Hawk-Eye and how that generates excitement in the game and amongst the fans, the reaction from the fans you've heard with this system in place?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: I think they finally get involved like a little bit more. They're sharing something extra with the players, I guess, because maybe tennis they get involved at some times during the game but not always.
Maybe sometimes they're kind of frustrated that they can't really express what they want. I think that's an occasion for them to probably let out this frustration at some point.

Q. With the chalk here, did you feel there were a lot of bad calls on grass?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: No. I mean, I'm trying to remember different matches I played, whether it was here or Eastbourne. I'm not sure it's more than anywhere else, except on clay, because you can check the marks. No, considering the difficulty of judging those balls, it's a pretty good job.
The fact is, using the Cyclops was very important, I think, because serve is probably the most difficult thing to judge. Now they put out the Cyclops, I think. They're not going to use it because of the Hawk-Eye.

Q. You have the advantage here if you hit a line, there's going to be some chalk?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: If it's right on the line, there's going to be some chalk. If it just touches this much, there's not going to be some chalk. It could make a little bit of difference at some point.

Q. When you had the instance in Australia where the ball was called in but the graphic showed it was out, did you take that up with anybody?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I went the next day because it was a night match. I didn't go straight in the office. They said they have two systems. They said they have this system to make the calls, and they have this system to show an image for the people to be able to look at. This image, the lines can be a little bit not completely straight.
So they have something to enhance the lines, to make sure they are very clean lines. They were going to turn off that system to make sure that the call is matching what people are seeing on the screen.
They obviously learned about that on that ball.

Q. You said about four or five people, you consider yourself one of them, as favorites for the tournament. Do you put Venus Williams in that group?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: I do put the Williams sisters, both of them, in that group. They're big servers. On the grass, obviously very important. And having the experience of playing these big events, winning many of them. Yeah, I definitely put both of them into that group.

Q. Yesterday in Eastbourne you lost against Justine Henin. In Belgium people think she's unbeatable. What do you think of that?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: She's unbeatable for the last three or four weeks. Let's hope she's not for the next couple.

Q. How do you cope with rain and all the delays? You can't practice today outside?
AMÉLIE MAURESMO: It's okay. I practiced a lot this week. It's okay for me. It's not so much of a problem. Yeah, it's not obviously the best conditions to get ready for those guys that haven't played so much. I'm going to be able to hit indoor a little bit today, not so much. Patience. That's sometimes a key word here at Wimbledon.

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