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August 17, 2009

Martina Navratilova

Monica Seles

Serena Williams

Aleksandra Wozniak


THE MODERATOR: We're just waiting for Aleks. She should be on her way. We'll get started with the format here.
Thank you, everybody, for your patience. We probably need no introduction, but we'll do it for formality purposes, anyway. To my immediate left, of course, is Martina Navratilova. To her immediate left is Monica Seles, and then Serena Williams.
Aleksandra Wozniak will join us momentarily. These three greats will join us tonight for the opening exhibition for the Rogers Cup of course as we honor Monica being inducted into the 2009 Rogers Cup Hall of Fame.
At this time we will open up the floor to questions. Of course this is a little different from a regular press conference having three greats here, so we'll certainly try and keep this as jovial as possible.
We have about 10 minutes with the ladies, so we'll open up the floor to questions.

Q. Serena, I have a question about your book. Is there anything in the book that you can tell us about now before it comes out? Anything we don't know about you that we'll find out in the book? And also, why did you decide to write a book now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Wow. I can tell you so much. You'll learn that I was -- being the youngest child, I kind of always got my way and I was a brat, and so when I was writing the book I didn't realize how bratty and awful I was.
So it's actually really funny to see as a six- or seven-year-old all the terrible things I did to Venus and all my sisters. I'm so embarrassed, because they reminded me of how awful I was. I was like, Oh, I'm sorry. I apologized to everyone; my sisters, that is.
I've been working on it for a couple of years. I love to write. I just always write in my spare time and just -- this is actually the third year I've been working on it. Last year I just decided to shop it around and see what happens.

Q. Question for Martina and also Monica, and then perhaps afterward Serena can comment. Just some general impressions on the current state of the women's game with the historical perspective and things that you're liking what you're seeing and things you feel could be improved upon, how it is relative to the men's game right now with Nadal and Federer, et cetera?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don't think we need to compare men to women. I think women's tennis has never been in better shape. We never know who's going to be No. 1 at the end of the year. With the men it's been a foregone conclusion until finally Nadal broke the mold last year.
I think women have been very entertaining and intriguing. Like I said, you don't know who -- we still don't know who's going to be No. 1 at the end of the year, and it's just been changing hands so much.
You know, going into any Slam, any tournament, you don't know who's going to be at the end. I find it sort of double-dealing with sort of a double standard with -- when Chris and I were dominating people, Oh, yeah, it's always Chris and Martina in the finals. It's like we always know who's going to be there. Whereas with men, they have so much depth; you never know who's going to win.
Now you have Nadal and Federer winning everything for five years, and women have been going back and forth, different No. 1s. Then it's, Well, with men we have Federer and Nadal. They're so great. But with women, nobody's dominating.
It's like you can't have it both ways. So I find this double standard really annoying. Now with Kim coming back and playing so well last week, Sharapova is healthy hopefully playing again, we don't know who's going to win the US Open. We know who's the favorite. She's sitting right over there, but she's got her work cut out. So I think women's tennis is in great shape.
You want to add to that?

Q. Monica, how does it feel to be back in Toronto after that terrific comeback in '95?
MONICA SELES: It feels wonderful to come back 14 years after. I'm sure -- you know, as soon as I got the invitation, I was like, Yes, I have to do this. I haven't played in ages, but the reception I got from the fans after, you know, I decided to come back here after being away from the sport two-and-a-half years I'll never forget.
The amazing times really that I had here in Toronto, I love playing always here, so it holds a very special place in my heart.

Q. Martina, after so many years being involved in tennis, what is it that keeps you so motivated and so enthusiastic about the game?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I like doing the commentary now, seeing it from the other side. It's much easier talking about it than doing it. Also, you don't have to stretch and warm up. You just show up five minutes before the match and start talking. It's very easy. You don't have to warm down afterwards, either.
No, seriously, I love the game obviously. It's a fascinating sport. It's almost impossible to master. You're always learning with the new techniques, new racquets, everything.
As Billie Jean King said, she's never seen the ball come over the net the same way twice. There's always something different about every shot. I'm still learning and I'm enjoying watching the women and the men battle it out.
You know, it's a hard sport. I think that's why it fell off a little bit. Now it's coming back. I think the attention span of kids has gotten much shorter, but now I think the parents and the kids are starting to see the challenge is worth it.
It's not a sport that you can, you know, become a champion in in three or four years' time like you do in some of those other sports. There's a lot involved in it, and that's what keeps me coming back.

Q. Martina, one question I want to ask you, as you probably know, the most significant aspect of this year was the unfortunate discrimination against Shahar Peer in Dubai. Billie Jean King said the women players should have boycotted the event. I want to know, especially because you had to endure such political controversy in your area, had you been around in playing in this day, what would you have done?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: When I saw what was going on, I said they should not be playing the tournament. That was my first reaction, as well.
I mean, I think it was resolved nicely, but that issue should have been resolved before the tournament started, and there's no way that that should have happened.
I think a stronger stand should have been taken. I think they sort of took the easy way out. But at the same time, you have to look at all the different aspects of it. My gut was don't play. That was my gut. If you discriminate against one, you discriminate against all. You cannot do it.

Q. A question to Martina and Monica. You both made a lot of comebacks. Now Kim Clijsters is making a comeback in the circuit. Did you see any of the matches? Were you surprised by the level? And do you agree with the quote of Lindsay Davenport who said like, I think she will be the first mother to win a Grand Slam since Evonne Gollagong?
MONICA SELES: I think it's wonderful to have Kim back. I mean, she was always a tremendous competitor, a super-nice person.
It's great that she missed the tennis and her body allowed her to come back. I'm sure it will be interesting to travel with a baby - I don't know how old her child is - on the tour. I'm sure there are challenges with it.
I think it's great always when you have past Grand Slam champions come back to the game. She's still very young, and I think we're all rooting for her to make some great results.

Q. This is for Serena Williams. I just want to welcome you to Toronto.

Q. I want to find out -- I'm sure you've missed a little action in the Rogers Cup. I want to find out whether you really missed this tournament in Canada? And the second question goes to the four of you. I want to find out what do you have an opinion on regarding the fact that none of the international tennis tournaments are being held in Africa as a continent. I just want to find whether I'm asking the right question or I should turn this question to the WTA.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I'm excited to be back in Canada. I've always loved coming here, and I'm really glad my schedule allowed me to come.
As for the tournaments in Africa, obviously I would love to see one there, and hopefully in the near future there will be one.
ALEKSANDRA WOZNIAK: I've never been to Africa, but it's a beautiful country I heard. Hopefully maybe somewhere near Cape Town we could have a beautiful tournament.

Q. Aleks, it's been 40 years since a Canadian woman has won this tournament. You're the country's best hope. Did you know it was that long, for one thing, and do you feel any extra pressure, being a Canadian, trying to win this tournament?
ALEKSANDRA WOZNIAK: I didn't know that, but I definitely am proud of being a Canadian, and hopefully now whenever the time is right I can win here at home. I'm excited to play.

Q. Monica, this is going to sound like a silly question but it's for you. It seems like the notion of grunting in women's tennis has gained a renewed focus this year, and a lot of it seems to point back to you.

Q. I wonder how much of this burden do you think rests on your shoulders? Do you think, is it something that's a natural function of breathing or is it a tactic?
MONICA SELES: I can only speak for myself. In my case, it was a natural breathing. If you look back at tapes as a nine-year-old girl I was doing the exact same thing.
I think it's unfortunate, because men grunted many times before. You had Jimmy Connors, and nobody said a single word about it. So I think females -- a lot of people, it's hard to accept when they're strong out there.
For me it was part of who I played; same way as I play two hands on both sides. My goal when I stepped out there on the court was just to crush that ball in whatever best form I could do that, and that was the sound that came out when I crushed the ball.

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