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March 24, 2010

Kimiko Date Krumm


K. DATE KRUMM/A. Chakvetadze
7-5, 3-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. First of all, welcome back. We haven't seen you since 1996. Where have you been? Why did you retire? Why are you back?
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: (laughter.)
Yes, after when I stop tennis, I enjoy my life. I married with a German guy in 2001, and I work for Japanese TV for commentary. So I went to some Grand Slam tournaments, except Australian Open, and I work for the TV.
Sometimes I teaching the kids, small kids, from three to ten years old. And then some -- also I'm working for some Japanese magazine or clinic, so I enjoyed working for like that.
And also life also it's enjoy a lot.

Q. But why did you quit, first of all, and then what made you come back?
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: That time a little bit too much pressure, because not so many Asian player. That time we don't have computer, we don't have mobile phone, and then we don't have Skype.
But now it's big difference, so I can enjoy the life on the tour also, even when I don't go back to Japan. Still I can contact to my friend, my family.
So it's big meaning, also.
Also, I improve when I was young and I difficult to speak English. And then I don't like western food. I only eating the Japanese food. And now I don't go Japanese restaurant anymore when I traveling.
Always I'm eating the western food or Italian or Thai food or Mexican. Last night I went to Cuba, Cuban restaurant.
So I change a lot. (laughter.)
Yeah, and then my husband always helping me a lot the English and also how to communicate with other people. So I change a lot.

Q. He wanted you to go back to the tour? He's a race car driver? NASCAR?
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: No, he has contract with Nissan, Japanese company. I don't know so much about racing, but he driving the like a --
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: Race car, but not Formula. It's touring car, two driver together always, like Indy. Not Indy, but GTM, like a German...

Q. That's okay. But he wanted you to play tennis?
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: He loved the sports. He love tennis. Sometimes we play together tennis, and then he push me very hard. Why don't you go back to the tour? You still fit. You don't care about the result. Just for fun.
It's enough you have already the success before, so just enjoy to play tennis. Just enjoy the challenge he said to me.
And then two years ago I had exhibition match with Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova in Tokyo. So I start to practice and then exercise also just for exhibition match.
And then after three months, four months, and then not bad, so I decide to continue to play tennis. I decide to play in the beginning only in Japan.
So first year I play only most time only in Japan. But my ranking going up, so my ranking was enter into the qualifying for the Australian Open two years ago.
So my husband said, Why not? You have chance to play qualifying. It's already big success after 12 years' break, and then my age was, at that time, 38 maybe. So I decide to come back on tour.

Q. Do you feel like you're an example or a role model for older women or middle aged women in Japan?

Q. Yes.
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: Ah, I don't know. (laughter.)
Ah, for me or other player? For me?
THE MODERATOR: For them. Do they look up to you as a hero?

Q. Regular women in Japan.
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: Yeah, but in the beginning, everybody said impossible to come back on the tour. I cannot win, and then the physically and then -- except mental.
And technique also it's now women's tennis is changing to power tennis and speedy tennis, so it's not possible to adjust my tennis.

Q. So how have you adjusted? What's it like playing these women even today, you know, a 23 year old or a 20 year old or an 18 year old? What's that like for you?
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: Of course it is very, very difficult for me than the beginning of when I come back.
Then always I have difficult to concentrate, because always I need more quick reaction than before, and because it's more powerful and more speedy.
So always I need to concentrate. After, when I hit, I need more concentrate to the action.

Q. Do you have to work out more physically and keep yourself in better shape now? Do you actually work harder now than when you were younger?
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: Some point, but most important it's recovery. So when I get old, of course, it's recovery is most difficult.
So I need do more exercise, I need more practice, but I need longer sleep. I need -- if I play too much, practice or exercise, I cannot performance for very high-level performance.
So sometimes if I stay three days off, I take three days off, it's big different to my body. So sometimes I need to break. A little bit difficult to balance. Yeah.

Q. You played these legends, and they've been gone for years. Steffi Graf, Seles, Hingis, Vicario. What's it like? They've been gone for years. Was that one of the reasons you left, because Steffi Graf used to kill you in all these tournaments in Miami? She used to really beat you in Miami.
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: (Laughing.) Yeah, I try to forget everything my past career, although it's difficult to play now. And if I thinking too much about the past career and always the pressure, I give to pressure to myself.
So I try to -- some point is I try to forget and then just concentrate now, and then I always say myself, It's challenge; always, it's challenge.

Q. How did you do with Steffi at the exhibition?
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: I enjoy very much. And then last week when I was Indian Wells, I met Steffi. And she said, You're mazing. Then she said, I never think about the comeback, and you still fit, and like that.
So still, when I meet Steffi and then we talk like that, I enjoy.

Q. You remember that match here, the final? What's your memory from that final?
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: Yeah, we don't talk so much about the tennis.

Q. What's your memory? You.
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: Of course I remember. Then after 1996, after, when I lost again Steffi and then when I had Fed Cup in Japan and then I beat her first time to Steffi. So.
I have a big memory of here, yes. And then 1995 also. I was in the final maybe in 1995.

Q. Here?
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: Here. I was losing 1-6, 1-5, 15-40. I had three match points against Gabby Sabbatini. Then I was come back and I beat Gabby, and then I played against Steffi in the final here.

Q. I would like to know who the tennis players and the athletes were that you looked up to when you were a child, when you were younger? And also right now, do you identify with any older athletes, such as Dara Torres and things like that? First when you were a child, who did you like?
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: When I start to play tennis, my idol was Chris Evert. Then after that, then Navratilova. In the beginning, yeah, Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, Carling Bassett.
And then when I a little bit more serious to play tennis, and then I -- my idol, it was Navratilova.

Q. And how are you treated in Japan? Are you a big star? How do people look at you?
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: Yeah, when I staying in Japan, a little bit difficult to enjoy my life because sometimes too much attention.
So now when I staying like, for example, my husband living in Monaco. So when I staying in Monaco, I can relax more than Tokyo.

Q. You live two places, then?
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: Yeah, after when I come back tennis, most time I staying in Japan and he stay in Monaco.
So this year we only meet five days. Not so much.

Q. The whole year? This year?

Q. Since January so far, five days?

Q. You miss him, yeah?
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: Yeah, we talking on Skype and we talking every day on the phone, so yeah.

Q. Good luck with that.
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: But, anyway, Monaco, and then we live in both.

Q. Also, do you feel like what you're doing is important for women who are almost 40 or in their 40s or 50s who want to be athletes? Do you have a message for them? Do you feel like a role model?
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: Yeah, not only about the player, the normal people also. When people get old, always a little bit give up if something, want to do something.
But already I'm getting old. I'm already, for example, 40, so it's not do that. People thinking, but my message is impossible, it's nothing.
Even I am getting old and/or even people think it's tennis is changing and the technique is too old or physically it's not enough or something like that.
But still it's important to challenge. And even cannot get results, but I think it's big meaning to be challenge.

Q. Who are your friends on tour? Who do you hang out with? Which players are you friends with?
KIMIKO DATE KRUMM: I have now many people practice together, and then Alexandra Dulgheru, Wickmayer, and last week I played Zheng also., many people talking together. Yeah.

End of FastScripts

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