1998 Lipton – 2nd Round Interview

Key Biscayne, Florida

March 21, 1998

M. Seles defeats A. Lorenzo 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-3

Q. Three months since your last match or four months?

MONICA SELES: Four months.

Q. How did it feel being back on the court?

MONICA SELES: Oh, it felt pretty strange. I kind of couldn’t get my rhythm. Obviously the wind didn’t help much. Haven’t practiced too much in the last two months. I had a problem with the timing. I pulled it out. I hung in there physically. I was pretty happy about that.

Q. Did you enjoy being out on the court today?

MONICA SELES: Oh, definitely. For sure.

Q. Do you think you will be back pretty much full-time now? Are you going to have to pick your spots?

MONICA SELES: I think at this point I am going to pick my spots.

Q. What spots might you pick?

MONICA SELES: Pretty much my focus is going to be in the Grand Slams this year, in trying to kind of prepare for them the best way. The rest of them, I will just go along as the weeks come.

Q. Things are pretty hard to sustain any kind of —

MONICA SELES: For sure. It was hard last year. And it is going to be very tough this year. But that is what I have, and I can’t change that.

Q. Last year at this tournament you were communicating with your dad by phone, as a coach, so to speak. What are you doing this year?

MONICA SELES: Kind of relying on myself right now.

Q. Are you able to talk to him at all? Do you call him?

MONICA SELES: It depends. So — depends what day it is.

Q. How difficult is it to concentrate on what you are doing here when your mind is, perhaps, back home?

MONICA SELES: It is very hard. But this is what I want to do. I really think for the first time in my life I have to prioritize, had to make things clearer, in what I want, the last three months. That helps tremendously. My mind, I didn’t have that last year. But it makes it very tough. But at the same time, I love to play tennis. Obviously I can’t put in as much time. I don’t have that single-mindedness. But that will come, I think, as time goes. Right now I just have to hang in there and take it a day at a time.

Q. Was there any point during the match that you thought you might lose?

MONICA SELES: I really didn’t think about it. I was just thinking, I was missing so many balls. I mean, huge margins of error. But it was very windy out there. I haven’t played in this much wind, and I kind of just started playing points about five days ago, so I kind of don’t know what to feel on the court. I haven’t played a two-handed, both-side, in a while, so I think this — I think this tournament, my focus was just really to come back and not miss too many months without playing any matches and just get the hang of it and, you know, not put to high expectations, because that would be unrealistic for this tournament.

Q. How are you balancing the various things that are pulling at you in your life right now? You want to be with your father, but people want to see you back playing tennis. You want to play tennis, but you also want to be with your father. How are you coping with all these demands on your life?

MONICA SELES: It is very hard. I mean, every day when I wake up it is very hard, because I can’t do both. I can’t be at both places. I have got to balance them out. Obviously, when I am in one place, I miss the other. So it is kind of never happy. But I have a lot of friends who have been very supportive of me, and it helps that a couple of them are here. That is just life. But it is a new period in my life, but it is a very tough one. Very tough to adjust. But I have to make that adjustment.

Q. When you are on court, is it like a bit of a release for you? Is it just, you know, getting away from it?

MONICA SELES: I mean, every time I could say not really the last year or so, but probably 80% of time when I step on the court I just think about the ball. Sometimes more stuff flashes through my mind that I have been working on to exclude that. And I think today I really wanted to do that. And a few times I was able to do that. Just really stay focused on the ball, whatever else is going on in my life.

Q. I am not sure people realize how much time away from training that you had to take to help out your dad. I mean, you have made a lot of trips with him to the clinic and dealing with the doctors and stuff.

MONICA SELES: Well, I felt that was my priority at this point. I really believe tennis, if I commit to it fully, and a lot of aspects physically tennis-wise, mentally I can have a good ten years. My dad, I don’t — I am not going to have him nearly that long, so I really wanted to do everything that I could. I mean, he has done everything for me. So I just really wanted to spend these last few months with him.

Q. How many trips did you have to make?

MONICA SELES: Oh, a lot. My time really wasn’t focused on tennis, but that is okay. I mean, I talked to my dad about it, which has helped me tremendously for my ownself to know that how I feel, and that has helped me. So now it kind of — from a week ago, I kind of know what my path is. So it makes it a lot easier even though, you know, you don’t have much of a chance to do great here. But, you know, in the future, if I do certain things, I can get that back.

Q. Can you quantify at all how much time you had to spend?

MONICA SELES: Well, the last 3-and-a-half months mostly.

Q. Just about very little tennis?

MONICA SELES: Very little, yeah. But…

Q. If you could want people to just understand that you are back here to try to entertain as much as possible; not to expect me to play great tennis, in all likelihood it is not going to happen the way things are right now, but let me just be here and bring some tennis enjoyment to you people here in the stands?

MONICA SELES: Pretty much. That is what I would love them to do, but I know they want more of me. But I really am putting a lot of pressure expectation on myself for the Grand Slams this year because not playing the first three months in terms of my ranking, I can’t do much and not playing, but I am going to expect a lot more of me at those tournaments. But right now, just really I am happy that I got to play Lipton. I really didn’t know that I would for a long time. I am just happy I made that decision even after a match like today when you know you are not 100%, but you still want to be out there and still fight for every point and taking it a match at a time.

Q. Do you think people understand why you are not 100%?

MONICA SELES: Oh, I do think so. I think a lot of people have to go through what I am going through right now at some point in their lives, or will have to, so I definitely. Like, for me, it was very hard for me to understand from people I knew. For me, it is very tough because since age 6 my dad has had the whole training part, I mean, I didn’t have to worry and suddenly that has just gone out the window 100% of the time, so I am trying to find myself in all aspects. That is just difficult. And then the second part is obviously my dad, so, my mom, so —

Q. I saw a picture of you with your dad on a dog sled at the Silverlining Ranch at Christmas. You have been supporting Andrea Jaeger’s project. Tell us some of the things did you with your dad.

MONICA SELES: I really wanted to take dad out there and see the kids. And, what Andrea does is really wonderful and it was just very special few hours, I think, for my dad, me, and the kids, Andrea, everybody in there, and all the kids have been so supportive of what they are going through. My dad is 63, so it is different when you see seven or eight year olds, it is just very difficult, so….. But, you know, they are all are so strong and you just get so much strength from them.

Q. Is there anything your dad said to you before you left for the tournament that you could share with us?

MONICA SELES: It is very hard because it is very hard to say good-bye. So I kind of didn’t want to look at it that way. Thank you.