1992 U.S. Open – 1st Round Interview

New York, New York

August 31, 1992

Monica Seles defeats A. Keller 6-1, 6-0

Q. In view of your having lost three tournament finals in a row, what is your mental state of mind, Monica, coming into this tournament?

MONICA SELES: It is the same as when I was winning all the matches. To me, mentally, it really doesn’t make a difference whether I’m winning or losing. Only thing that I think losing the Wimbledon finals was a lot different than losing the two finals over there. It pretty much, you know, was a different case.

Q. Do you feel, Monica, that suddenly, after you have been playing a certain way for three years, the people started picking on you at Wimbledon?

MONICA SELES: How do you mean picking?

Q. Well, about your emissions and so on?

MONICA SELES: About my groans?

Q. Yes.

MONICA SELES: Yeah, as I said, I was very surprised that, you know, both players to complain at this point when I played them five or six times. I didn’t think it was fair of them, but then again, I guess it is the biggest tournament; everybody is going to try anything to distract you. But as I said, I don’t think I am grunting or I am not grunting. That is not what is affecting my game at all.

Q. Were you distracted by Keller’s grunting today? It was a lot louder than you.

MONICA SELES: It is a lot louder and this morning when I practiced with a few players, they have been grunting and a few of them come to me, and we kid around. I will be out of target and they will say, yeah, but I didn’t even hear Keller grunt today. There are a few lower ranked players that grunting never bothered. When I played Jennifer, we both grunted. Up to now it never bothered me and I don’t think it bothered her either. I think it was an issue, something needed to be written in two weeks.

Q. If that is not what is affecting your game, then what is?

MONICA SELES: First I think after the semi-finals against Arantxa when I kind of twisted my ankle, that definitely affected my running. Maybe I shouldn’t have played on with it, because since after that, my game just totally went down and I don’t know if it was more mentally about thinking not being able to run to the ball with an ankle after that, I just didn’t feel like I was playing my game. I wasn’t Monica on the court. Not just in the Martina match or the Arantxa match, but through the whole tournament I was struggling against players that I usually have a different score. I think it was good. I learned a little bit from both matches but I still think that, you know, both of them played great, but I still didn’t think I was playing that well as I should have. But it doesn’t matter. You can’t have an ideal preparation for the Open. You will win some and you will lose some.

Q. Is your ankle better?

MONICA SELES: It is better, yeah. I took a couple of days off after it, after the Canadian Open. I am supposed to tape it always but I didn’t do it today but I will from now on. I just don’t want it to become psychological anymore to think about it, but it is not hurting so that is helpful.

Q. It seemed to me and I didn’t see the two subsequent finals, but it seemed to me that at Wimbledon, in the final, you were trying to subdue the grunt and I have been told that in the other two finals that you have seemed to be trying to subdue it. Is that true?

MONICA SELES: Not at all. I think at Wimbledon, I maybe was a little bit surprised at the semi-finals when Martina said some words, that I, you know, somebody told me later on television about the grunting. I think maybe over there I was a little bit thinking too much about it. During the final, I don’t think that was a point to think about it. And I was just kind of, you know, a little bit surprised that all– I really felt confident talking to the players and just why they are so much picking on the grunting issue. But I still didn’t think that is why I lost. Steffi just played an excellent match but I definitely wasn’t up to the match on that day as I usually was. But I think the final at Wimbledon ended, the last tournaments totally have nothing to each other.

Q. The whole thing about the grunting, isn’t that ridiculous?

MONICA SELES: I think it is because I am not the only one. I don’t feel why they are singling me out, and then when people bring on the court a gruntometer, it has to get to the point that you got to laugh at it. You can’t take it seriously. It has been part of my game. I told myself, basically after Wimbledon, if you do it, that is great, Monica; if you don’t do it, that is great. And I mean, I am not thinking about it at all. I hope I will be go on with the whole year.

Q. Is it a natural part of your game?

MONICA SELES: It has been part of me since I was 12 when I played Carrie Cunningham in one of the finals and I started doing that. Since then, it has been always with me each year at Wimbledon. It has been big issue except last year I didn’t play. Then again this year, probably even a bigger issue because of the number one player, it has been part of my game. I never done it on purpose. I never thought I won or lost matches because of my grunting. I still felt that it shouldn’t get so much attention, But I guess it does.

Q. Jim Loehr mentioned that it is related to your intensity. He also indicated that if you change the tone it wouldn’t be a problem. Have you thought of that?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, well, I thought of that, but I had watch a few tapes back a year ago, or about 7, 8 months ago when I was playing a lot of different people practicing, and it is funny in practice I never grunted even when I was playing probably the best tennis against male players who I really wanted to play well; not to prove anything, but to play well against them, and I was not grunting, I still think it is just, you know, most of the times if the other player starts grunting, automatically I do start — I am doing it unconsciously. I had do think it is when I am hitting, it is just I am doing it, but I never done it on purpose.

Q. As far as prestige and importance, is this your most important tournament to win, for whatever reason?

MONICA SELES: I mean everyone of them is to me, very important, each tournament, it doesn’t matter how many times I won it. It was very special that I won it last year because I never played well here, I always had some very bad losses. Then last year I came through, but each Grand Slam is special, you know, and I don’t like to choose one above the other.

Q. Do you care what these other players think? Do you care what they think?

MONICA SELES: I think few people who have felt I was close to them – maybe not close as, quote, friends at home, but you know, I was just surprised they would use words like that. I mean, I don’t think I am, you know, and especially on television, whatever, but then I guess it is tennis and you try to do everything to win a match.

Q. How do you feel you play coming into this U.S. Open?

MONICA SELES: I think the few dates were good taking time off. Then, of course, the hurricane was there two days. There is so much wind for one day that you couldn’t play at all going outside. It was raining a lot. I probably didn’t get to spend as many hours on the court as I wanted. I did a lot of running, a little bit. I have been practicing, the usual here. I think I am playing fine. I probably will not know ’till the matches come; then I have to take them each at a time. I just hope that it is not going to be windy the whole week as it was out there today. It is hard to play your game. Whatever you do, the ball takes its own course.

Q. Monica, suppose somebody brings it up as it was brought up at Wimbledon during a match; Martina goes to the umpire, what will your reaction be? Do you have a strategy?

MONICA SELES: Not to bother me. It doesn’t bother me. Actually, during the Martina match, because I didn’t hear what she said, a friend of mine just called me later; she said, did you hear what Martina said on national television, and I still didn’t believe it that she said that. After that, I started seeing it. I was kind of — heard more about it afterwards, than so much before, because during the matches I was concentrating and I just heard Martina saying something to the umpire, and then the umpire said please, Seles, Miss Navratilova asked if you could tone it down. At that point, it didn’t — that is the same thing when I played Tauziat.

Q. When did you leave Florida?


Q. How were you in relation to the hurricane?

MONICA SELES: It didn’t come over us. We were very lucky. I have some friends that told me it was really scary. We sure got the winds and we had the hurricane watch from 4 P.M. to 8 P.M.. It was just raining and you couldn’t go outside.

Q. You are listed as coming from Sarasota, Florida rather than Yugoslavia as in Wimbledon?

MONICA SELES: The last time I saw it listed as Yugoslavia, so–

Q. Do you know much about your next opponent?

MONICA SELES: Yes, she is NCAA College champion. I saw her play, so she is a tough player. I will just have to go out there, try to play my game, very much, and just you know, play.

Q. Can you tell us what is the real connection between your grunting and your breathing, much has been said about —

MONICA SELES: Yeah, I understand.

Q. Much has been said about it and written about it. Will you enlighten us?

MONICA SELES: I am no expert on this and I don’t know anything much about it. All I know is that when I go out there on the court, it came natural to me. And there has been so much commotion around and that I don’t know, I get different experts sending letters, both sides saying grunting is great for the game; grunting is bad for your game. I don’t think everybody knows the real truth or whatever it is. As I said, if I do grunt, that is great. If I don’t, that is great also. I don’t want to make issue out of this. I don’t want to go out on the court Wednesday or whenever and think, Monica, don’t grunt now, this is the most important thing you mustn’t think that. I do my best at each point with grunting or without. And I really don’t want to make an issue out of it. Because you shouldn’t be.

Q. When you are practicing you don’t grunt?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, I don’t know why. I don’t know myself either. I wish I would know, then I wouldn’t.

Q. Thank you.