1997 Lipton – 2nd Round Interview

Miami, Florida

March 22, 1997

M. Seles defeats Sawamatsu 6-3,2-6,6-2

DEBBI EDWARDS: Questions for Monica.
Q. How is your finger, Monica?
MONICA SELES: It’s doing okay. I started practicing about two weeks ago. It’s fine. There’s no pain; just a little bit if I’m turning fast. That’s about it.

Q. And your shoulder?
MONICA SELES: My shoulder is great. It’s been really doing great the last four, five months, so. I’m happy I don’t have to have the surgery.

Q. Were you staggered that you had to take so long off with the finger? Is it something you thought would heal up pretty quickly, and it didn’t?
MONICA SELES: Obviously when it happened, yeah. They found it was broken in two places. It just was all messed up. It definitely took much longer than I thought. I thought I would be off for six weeks, max.

Q. Monica, what were you thinking when you walked out there?
MONICA SELES: I was really nervous today because I haven’t played a match pretty, pretty much a full match, since I lost to Martina in San Francisco. I didn’t get a chance to practice so much. I didn’t feel that confident going into the match. That’s about it. Waiting around all day, that made me even more nervous because I’m just thinking, had a lot of time to think about the match. I played Naoko tons of times, knew her game, all those things.

Q. Monica, there’s a new No. 1 coming up now, can you tell her what to expect from your experience?
MONICA SELES: Martina is great. She’s not only great on the court, but off the court she seems to have a great balance. What’s she’s achieving is quite unbelievable to become No. 1. It’s just awesome.

Q. How heavy a burden does it create to be No. 1, responsibility, demands?
MONICA SELES: I don’t think on her way that’s hard, because that’s not her personality, at least now. You never know, she’s a teenager. Right now she’s just having a great time. That’s the most important. She’s also playing some awesome tennis.

Q. How important is it for women’s tennis to have new faces? Some older players have retired.
MONICA SELES: I think for the Tour it would be really nice if there were a way to bring back Gaby and Kimiko, have them around, but we also have great new players coming up: Anna, Venus, Martina. The depth of women’s tennis in the last couple years has really grown a lot. I think the future is bright for it.

Q. What are you looking for from yourself in the next few months?
MONICA SELES: Well, I think just to keep practicing, trying to get back the balance consistency. Obviously not playing for three, four months, that’s really my main focus. Try to play quite a few tournaments to get match toughness, because today I clearly didn’t have that.

Q. Is that disappointing to you or do you take it as part of the process?
MONICA SELES: I think it’s part of the process. I think not playing for a long time, obviously so many things happening, I didn’t have a chance to even practice as little as I did before. So now, the next four or five weeks, I’m playing tournaments, I’ll have time to focus on tennis, no distractions.

Q. Where did you feel it most today, the fact that you obviously were rusty?
MONICA SELES: My groundstrokes. I mean, wow, they just collapsed on me. I mean, I was missing balls. It’s windy out there, that’s true, that’s hard, but still.

Q. Monica, the other day Anna was in here and she complained about having to observe the rules about limitations on her number of tournaments she can play. What is your position on that when you look at the young players who are coming along? Is it fair to have them?
MONICA SELES: I know when that rule was started, I’m not aware because I was off the Tour at that point. I don’t know how, where is the loophole or whatever. It’s very individual. I mean, look at Steffi and myself. We turned out great. I know Jennifer’s case, people think it’s different. I think she’s trying to make a comeback, I think she’s committed to it now. It’s totally based on an individual basis and depends a lot on the parents or the coaches, support system around the players. Obviously, you’re just a baby at that age.

Q. Does that mean that you think the rule is unnecessary or incorrect?
MONICA SELES: That’s tough. I mean, it’s 50/50, I think.

Q. Monica, what do you think about the new system of ranking for the women?
MONICA SELES: The cumulative points?

Q. Yes.
MONICA SELES: Obviously it hurts lot if you don’t play. For me, I dropped from 2 to 5. Last year if we would have had the other system, I still would have been 2. I think if you do well in Grand Slams, that part it’s good because it does reward you for that. I think it demands a lot of tournaments to play, which obviously very few players up to this year have been able to play all of them they have been committed to play. Q. You think the other system was better, the previous system would have been better?
MONICA SELES: I mean, I had so many discussions with so many players back and forth. There’s no system we’re going to find that’s going to be perfect for everybody. I really thought the other system was more fair. Here if you lose in the first round, it doesn’t penalize you, and that shouldn’t be the case.

Q. You just came back from an injury, Steffi Graf is out with an injury. What do you think has to happen? Giving advice to young players coming up now, what do you say? Is it just bad luck?
MONICA SELES: I think it’s hard because you play so many tournaments, likes Steffi did, in a row. Some top players, Steffi or Martina, are all perfectionists, they practice a lot. That’s putting a lot of demands on your body over the years. Sooner or later you’re going to have injuries. I think the only way to eliminate that is to have a longer off season. I think the WTA is trying to do that.

Q. What is it like being back at the Lipton?
MONICA SELES: I really don’t have that many memories from the stadium. The first time I saw the stadium was yesterday. I do remember it before. It was always one of my favorite tournaments. The people who are running the tournament have always been very supportive of me. They just kept in touch even when I was not playing tournaments. I’m really glad that finally I’m able to play it.

Q. There were reports that you were worried about security yesterday.
MONICA SELES: Yesterday?

Q. The day before when you practiced.
MONICA SELES: That was a total accident. A guy I’m hitting with, Claudio, he isn’t here, he has another player who was playing. They have this really weird way of saying hi, a dance. I was in the bathroom, didn’t see it. I guess they thought that the guy was, I don’t know, not okay. But he’s a player, so he’s fine. They’ve been really good.

Q. They thought he was odd?
MONICA SELES: I don’t know. As I say, I was in the bathroom. I just heard it from two other people. That’s the story I heard.

Q. Monica, who have you been practicing with, the time you have been practicing?
MONICA SELES: I’ve been hitting mostly with Claudio, that’s pretty much it.

Q. It looked like you were pulling at your back a couple times.
MONICA SELES: I was just getting so cold. I’m not used to playing in a dress. It was sticking to me. I was freezing, trying to keep moving. No injury, nothing.

Q. And for your shoulder, you just did, what, rested it? Did you do rehab?
MONICA SELES: I rested it and did quite a bit of rehab and a lot of stretching. For me it’s a key to keep stretching and not over-serve. I mean, I didn’t play the last three months much, but really had no pain.

Q. When you were playing in San Francisco at your last match, did you finish that match and your arm was in pain?
MONICA SELES: Pretty much, yeah.

Q. And tonight?
MONICA SELES: Tonight nothing.

Q. Nothing?
MONICA SELES: No, nothing.

Q. So you feel as if not going to surgery was good?
MONICA SELES: I think it was good. I would have been way longer off.

Q. You look pretty fit. Have you been working out?
MONICA SELES: No, I haven’t done anything, no (laughter). I mean, the one thing I was talking to somebody now, everybody is in great shape, stretching, all playing tennis, which five years ago wasn’t the case. I’m a little bit late on that. I’m going to get on there. I really didn’t do much, but play a lot the last two weeks.

Q. Monica, how exactly did the injury occur with your finger? Was it some sort of freak accident?
MONICA SELES: Yeah. Well, I was trying to catch a ball, a hard serve ball. It just zoomed it back and broke it in two places, that was it (indicating).

Q. Who hit the ball?
MONICA SELES: It was a hard serve.

Q. Who were you playing with, Goran?
MONICA SELES: No. It was a hard serve. Martina.

Q. Hingis?

Q. Monica, this is a question for a survey. If you had not been able to become a tennis player, a professional sports woman, what kind of job would you have liked to do? What kind of career would you have liked to pursue?
MONICA SELES: That’s hard to just come off the top of my head. Anthropologist probably at this point, I’d really like to do that. As I say, that’s really tough. I started playing tennis at age seven, so I was geared more towards that road.

Q. I’m sorry, Monica, you were practicing with Martina Hingis and that’s when it happened?

Q. Where was that?
MONICA SELES: Where were we in Geneva? I don’t know anymore. Yeah.

Q. What was the best thing you took out of this match, getting through it and not feeling any pain in your shoulder or what?
MONICA SELES: Pretty much. I mean, I was more worried today about my finger really. My shoulder has been okay. I think, I was telling myself to wake up a little bit in the second. I just told myself to take it a point at a time, it’s really windy out there, move my feet, be a little patient, because not every day the balls are going to go in, so.

Q. Monica, how is your father doing?
MONICA SELES: He’s doing okay. Thank you for asking.


MONICA SELES: Thank you.