1999 Australian Open – 2nd Round Interview

Melbourne, Australia

January 21, 1999

Monica Seles defeats A. Dechaume-Ballert 6-1,6-4

INTERVIEWER: Monica, well done. What happened at the end of the second set?

MONICA SELES: I don’t know. I think at 5-1, I think I just let a couple of balls slip by me, and then I lost my concentration totally, and I slowed down on all of her slices, and as soon as I started doing that I got into trouble. So in some ways it was a good thing to happen, to keep me on my toes next time.

INTERVIEWER: So how do you spend the rest of the day?

MONICA SELES: Oh, I’m playing doubles next, so I think just really sitting, waiting for my doubles match. I mean, they haven’t even gone on two singles match there, so – – –

INTERVIEWER: Monica, you and Jana may play Hingis and Kournikova in the third round. How will it feel to play the “Spice Girls” – that’s what I call themselves?

MONICA SELES: Oh, okay, that’s their definition. I mean, I never play with Jana doubles, and we have a first match to win today, so I don’t know what to expect. I’m just really happy to play with someone as good as Jana, so if we get there, I don’t know. I mean Jana and Martina are doubles partners. Obviously I played a few times with Anna, so I’m sure it will be a very interesting doubles match.

INTERVIEWER: What do you think about Anna’s serve, Monica? What’s wrong with it?

MONICA SELES: It’s tough. I think Anna and Paolo will know the answer to that one, only.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, how do you rate your form?

MONICA SELES: I feel pretty good coming into the tournament. I don’t think I’m playing like spectacular, but I’m pretty comfortable, and hopefully as the matches get along I’ll be playing better and attacking more and feeling stronger out there.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, some players use their emotions off court to channel on court positively; others try to black it out. Do you compartmentalise when you go on court? How do you use that emotion?

MONICA SELES: No, I just really separate my tennis game from my personal life. Obviously it’s a little bit harder with my father because he was such a big part of my tennis. I like to do that. I was trying really hard. Sometimes I was successful, sometimes I wasn’t. But otherwise, no, when I go out there I just worry about the tennis. You know, anything else can happen in life. But otherwise there would be major trouble out there.

INTERVIEWER: Have you been going to the casino at all, or doing any betting?

MONICA SELES: No. No, I didn’t. No, I don’t have a chance. I just went to see a couple of movies at a great movies theatre, and that has been really it.

INTERVIEWER: The gold pass?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, very nice.

INTERVIEWER: At a tournament do you cook your own food, or do you just stick to going out?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, I think here it’s a little bit harder, obviously, because I don’t have too many, anybody here with me, so it’s hard for me. I go by myself a few nights, but I’ve been going out with Mary Joe a few times. But mostly, if you play singles and doubles you really don’t have a chance to go out; it’s room service. And I think as the matches get tougher and the heat is going to get worse, you just want to save your energy for the match.

INTERVIEWER: Are you playing more doubles than you used to?

MONICA SELES: I used to play quite a lot of doubles before I got stabbed, and then once I came back from that I didn’t play for a year. And then last year I really started playing and I started doing well, and I kind of, really was enjoying it. And I think it helps my serve, for sure – it helped last year – and my returns. It’s just good, I really enjoy it. Obviously I had some really fun partners. That helps. And I learned a few – I played with Natasha last year. I learned a lot from her. I’m just really enjoying it.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, you talk about having to go out to dinner alone. That would surprise a lot of people?

MONICA SELES: I don’t go out alone. I tried that once, boy oh boy. Wrong idea. It didn’t work. That was a really quick turn-around, that’s for sure, back to the room. I mean, people are really nice always, but there are some people who are really forward. I’m not a person that can just kind of brush them off and they ask sometimes really strange questions. I’m sure that their intentions are very nice, but it leads to some very uncomfortable situations. Even if my hitting partner is with me a few people come up and, just, like, wow, okay. So I have stopped doing that. I mean, in my situation that’s not a good one, especially when there’s a tennis tournament in the city. At home, it’s fine. But here, I think it’s too tough.

INTERVIEWER: How do you disguise yourself?

MONICA SELES: I put a hat on, or glasses. But I think it’s so tennis oriented here, these few weeks, that, you know, everybody is just looking for tennis players everywhere you go, so obviously, they are just looking for you

INTERVIEWER: Where was that time you went out on your own, Monica?

MONICA SELES: Oh, it was just in the casino. Thanks for printing that. Please, don’t do that to me. People were in there.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, people have referred to embarrassment for Kournikova with her serve. What is the most embarrassing moment you have had on court?

MONICA SELES: Most embarrassing one – I really don’t feel any of them embarrassed – I mean I used to have a problem that I find I would come to the net – this is like 1992, and someone passed me, I feel embarrassed. But I’m not embarrassed by that now. So right now, at this point, nothing. But I think that’s not a good one to have. But her serve is very different. Her serve is a big problem.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, are you the sort of person that draws on your great memories from a place like this when you come back here?

MONICA SELES: Definitely. I just really enjoy from the first time I came to Australia in 91. Obviously, that’s translated into my tennis game. I’m enjoying it this year also, like really enjoy playing on the Centre Court, and that always helps. So I have some great memories and hopefully I’ll have some more great memories for the next few years.

INTERVIEWER: What is your best memory?

MONICA SELES: Probably it’s a tie between – you mean in my tennis matches here?


MONICA SELES: Oh, my tennis matches – probably winning 91, because I had a tough time leading up to the 91 Australian. I wouldn’t like to think that I could only win one Grand Slam in my career. And the second one, probably when Steffi and I played that great three set match in the finals, I think it was 93. And I’m sure 96 is extra special, just because it’s so nice to come back after not coming back here for so many years and trying to keep defending my titles, 94, 95, so it was just a very special one to me, that one.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, now that Gavin is not here, who is actually in charge of your fitness?

MONICA SELES: I have a guy here, Vern, he’s being working with me, and I’ve been working with Jimmy. So obviously everyone is here with me. But right at this tournament I just have Walter, and he’s the one kind of making sure I’m everything.

INTERVIEWER: Was that your choice, to come alone, or were they just unable to come with you?

MONICA SELES: They are just unable to come with me.

INTERVIEWER: Will they be coming with you?

MONICA SELES: I think so. I think this is a tough trip for a lot of people with families to make, so you can’t – you know, I understand when you stop playing tennis you don’t want to travel as much, so I’m very happy with that decision. I really feel I had a good lead-up coming into it, and when I step on the court anyway I just play my own game. I’m not a person that looks in the box for support or aid, etc., or all that stuff. So, for, me I always just relied upon myself; so in that sense it doesn’t make a difference. But to get ready well, it did help tremendously to play with someone like Jim.

INTERVIEWER: Why did you split with Gavin?

MONICA SELES: Pretty much because of time. I think, it’s just difficult, I think, for Gavin and for me, to balance a time out. And it’s really,, that’s really it. I think still think very highly of Gavin. I still talk to him and all that, no bad feelings at all or anything like that. But I just felt I needed someone who could spend a little bit more time with me, and I think he agreed with that.

INTERVIEWER: Monica, Chang and Agassi mentioned that, you know, going into the second week of a Grand Slam sometimes even the younger players don’t have the legs to be able to get through. Do you feel that way? Do you feel that you are going to have the legs to be able to compete against a teenager?

MONICA SELES: We will just have to see how many teenagers are going to play. But, obviously, you know, I think every age, it’s gets tougher, thank goodness not at 30; but I think Steffi is I showing at even 30 you can be just an unbelievable athlete, and Martina obviously was even beyond that. I really don’t worry about that. I didn’t have a match yet that I had to worry about. Maybe at the championships, but I was so sick that I get a little bit out of gas, but I don’t think so here. I mean, if you play in a 40 Celsius heat it’s going to be just as tough for your opponent also.

INTERVIEWER: Marcelo Rios said he got bored with a two-week tennis tournament. Is coping with the outside pressures as difficult as anything to win a Grand Slam?

MONICA SELES: I don’t know. I mean, Marcelo was staying in the hotel I was in. I watched him, you know, work out and all that. He didn’t seem bored. I mean, he has a lot of really fun people around him and he looked to me he was having a good time. Obviously that’s different from when you step on the tennis court. But, you know, he might feel a little bit of pressure, but I’m sure he will get over that. He has so much talent that I think if he can stay injury free he will be back to playing really good tennis.