2000 French Open – 1st Round Interview

May 29, 2000
M. Seles defeats Talaja 6-2,6-2

Q. How did you feel at the beginning of the tournament?

MONICA SELES: I feel really good. I knew it would be a tough first round match coming here. It was just really good to finally get to play. I’ve been here since Tuesday, just really anxious to start.

Just really happy with everything that went out there today.

Q. Quite clearly your emotional state is better now than it was when you left Key Biscayne a couple months ago. What’s happened during that time? What was your emotional state when you left Key Biscayne?

MONICA SELES: Truly I never left Key Biscayne. I stayed there the entire week because my best friend was getting married, Mary Joe. Probably after the press conference, for about two hours, a lot of my friends called me because everybody was so concerned.

After that, I went out, had dinner with my friends, and that was it. Next couple of days, I talked to my coach. We just decided — I mean, I knew you just have to go on. I tell myself, “You dust yourself off and try again.” That was my theory.

Q. It almost seemed as if you were contemplating, “Why am I playing tennis now”?

MONICA SELES: No, honestly, not at all. That did not cross my mind at all. What was very difficult, I was in a lot of pain myself, then really losing that way, the whole crowd and the press conference, just not one thing was going well. It was just a very emotional time for me. Having to go through everything in a period of an hour and a half, really having no time to kind of think for a second was very tough.

But after that, I probably had one of my best weeks of my life. So that erased everything.

Q. In that respect, you seem to have picked up your game since that moment. You seem to be doing really well. How are you feeling? How strong do you think your chances are here?

MONICA SELES: I really don’t think I’m playing — I mean, I’m playing better. I got to the semis at Lipton. I just had one bad match. There were a lot of other things going into that match. I probably will have many more matches like that.

I know that day, I went out and gave the best I can. I have nothing to be ashamed of or whatever word you would use. As long as I give my best, I’m fine. I knew I had that. I knew that would not make me or break me, this tournament or next week or anything like that.

I think I’ve been working really hard. I think I want to spend more time on my tennis and different things. Hopefully, I’ve been seeing some things pay off. That’s not the thing I’m expecting. I want to truly keep working hard, the way I did before. That’s really it.

Q. When you were winning a lot of Grand Slams, you probably knew going into tournaments you could win. Are you going into this tournament feeling like you can win this?

MONICA SELES: My mentality, really from junior tournaments on, was that “I always think I’m going to lose this match.” Different players, it’s how they operate. Some players I’ll play with, “I’m going to win this match,” even before it starts. Mine, I’m very negative towards myself.

I’ve been trying for many years to change that. That’s just the way I guess how my brain works. I go in thinking “This might be the last match I play at this tournament.”

That’s kind of what I’m doing, and it really hasn’t changed at all. Only time was a change when I came back in ’95, there were a few tournaments, I was so excited to be back.

Q. How do you think you’re going to do in this tournament, out in the second round?

MONICA SELES: I just look forward to my second round. I have a tough second round opponent, tough first round one. Really just take it a point at a time. That’s really all I can do.

Q. Isn’t that a very exhausting approach, particularly when you’ve had such success, to always think you’re losing?

MONICA SELES: No, truly no. When I was 14 or 15, I took losses a lot harder. I think when I turned around 18, that Australian Open in 1993, I think I decided to approach things differently. That just stayed with me.

I mean, for me – I keep saying this – I just love to play tennis. I mean, everything else is fantastic. Truly that’s what I get up every morning for.

Q. Other players have been saying that the conditions are very windy today. Is getting through the wind something you’ve always been able to do?

MONICA SELES: Since I’ve played the French Open, I’ve never seen wind like this. I just talked to another player who played on center court. Especially center court, the wind is just swirling. It’s very difficult conditions. I think none of the players like to play in the wind, except maybe Kuerten. Everybody else, it’s just very difficult to play. But it’s for both players, so.

Q. A few weeks ago the man who won this tournament twice, Jim Courier, retired from tennis. Several years ago he was at Nick Bollettieri’s with Andre Agassi and David Wheaton and Monica Seles. What do you remember about Jim Courier and those days as a junior?

MONICA SELES: I mean, I truly love Jim. I actually talked to him a couple weeks before he retired because he’s doing this charity event in December. I remember about Jim, so hard working. I was probably one of the hardest working females. Usually the guys weren’t so hard working. He truly was so hard working. And he played the drums. Those are the two things.

Obviously there’s a story, which I personally don’t remember, but Nick has told it to me a few times, when he asked Jim to hit with me. I guess I started hitting the balls all over the place. Jim said, “I’m not going to be your be your guinea pig,” and walked off, that was it.

Q. Actually, I heard that his language was a little stronger than guinea pig.

MONICA SELES: That’s what he told me. I don’t know if Nick made it nicer toward me. But he definitely worked hard, boy. I really believe besides Martina, he truly brought fitness in. No player usually had a fitness trainer before Courier. He started working with Pat. That was kind of the new beginning. Now it’s almost like a standard that a player has a coach and a fitness trainer. He was really hard working.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about playing for the United States in the Olympics, how competitive the US team is?

MONICA SELES: Well, I’m not sure I’m going to get a chance. For us it’s July 3rd — 10th is the cutoff line. I think the US team, whoever makes it amongst the Williams sisters or myself, it’s extremely tough. I really wish that we were going by the ranking points because I think the Olympics would have been much stronger, especially from the US and France standpoint.

But if I do make it, which is really one of my goals, I’m going to be very excited. I’ll definitely take it a lot more serious than I did in Atlanta.

Q. How come? Could you talk about why it’s different for you?

MONICA SELES: I think Atlanta I just loved being part of the Olympics. Truly maybe I just loved absorbing everything. I wasn’t concentrating so much on my own event.

If I get a chance to go to Sydney, I think my own event will be a priority before a lot of other things. I’ll still stay in village, like Atlanta, but stay a touch bit more focused.

Q. Can you talk about the selection process, you don’t like the way it is this year?

MONICA SELES: I’m on the board of the WTA Tour, amongst the players. All the players decided that we did not want to award ranking points, go by it, like the men’s tour. That’s the choice.

My personal opinion would be it would be to go by the ranking points and award wildcards to a few players who wouldn’t get a chance to play from some countries. I think if you win the Olympics, you should be the best, play amongst the best in the world. This way you could theoretically be No. 4 or 5 in the world and not get a chance to play, so.