2000 U.S. Open – 1st Round Interview

New York, New York
August 29, 2000
M. Seles defeats Tracy Almeda-Singian 6-0,6-2

Q. How are you feeling coming into this tournament? What are your chances?
MONICA SELES: Well, as always, you just try to look at the first match. I was really happy that I got to play some matches last week because I had to pull out of a couple of tournaments because of my injury. I’ve been playing some consistent tennis. I haven’t, you know, been able to play as well as I’d like to against players like Venus. But that’s one thing that keeps me motivated, just to try to get better against those two, three players in the world right now.

Q. What is it that you find in Venus’ game that has made her so dominant? Is it less and less errors?
MONICA SELES: I think really just her height obviously helps tremendously on her serve and her physical power. She runs down balls that other players probably would not get to, makes you hit an extra ball. Just the sheer size of her, the balls are coming back at such a fast pace at you. She’s cut down a lot her errors. Since Wimbledon, she’s a lot more confident.

Q. Do you think players find her intimidating?
MONICA SELES: I mean, I can’t speak for other players. You’d have to ask everyone individual. I for sure don’t, so that’s all I can answer.

Q. You’re going to be playing both with Serena and Venus in the Olympics. Out here they’re coming into this tournament as two of the hottest players on the tour. What do you think they bring to the game?
MONICA SELES: Well, they bring so much excitement, I think, to the tennis. It was so great to see them in the Wimbledon semis, just to see two sisters play. I got to know them well last year at Fed Cup in Italy. I’m looking forward to being their teammates also in the Olympics and again at Fed Cup in November.
Just I think they bring a whole new audience to tennis. They’re going to inspire a lot of other young girls and boys to start to play tennis. I think it’s just going to be great. I mean, we already see that it’s great. I think it’s just going to get better and better.

Q. As someone who has been No. 1, been at the top of the game before, do you look at them and see what it takes to break through that young, inconsistent phase?
MONICA SELES: I think it takes a lot of hard work, which I think they both have. They’re so lucky to have each other because they can push each other. They have the best practice partners in the world. They have company, too. They have a huge advantage. They seem to have a great sister relationship, which I think is really important, same with their parents. If they continue as they are, I think it’s just going to be fantastic.

Q. Many players, the Olympics, it’s not a priority for them. Why is it important for you?
MONICA SELES: I don’t know. I think I elected not to play the first Olympics in my career. Suddenly Atlanta, when it came around, was really important to me. Probably just becoming a US citizen not too long before. My father was an alternate for the triple jump Olympic team. I thought it would be nice to continue some form of a tradition. This year, I really don’t know why. When I was away from the tour for those six months, I worried more about not making the Olympic team than not winning a tournament. I sensed it was really important to me. I don’t know. I really don’t know.

Q. You don’t know why it’s important?
MONICA SELES: I really don’t. But I am so excited to be going. I think for me, I love to play, but I think just seeing all the other great athletes competing and just being in the Village, seeing the athletes you see on TV and admire was a bigger inspiration for me in Atlanta than myself playing. I am still wishy-washy on tennis being in the Olympics.

Q. Did it worry you more about whether you would make the team than anything else?
MONICA SELES: Definitely. I loved the two weeks in Atlanta. The whole two weeks were fantastic. It’s such a nice change from the regular grind of the tour. Sydney is one of my favorite places to go.

Q. It’s not a team format, though.
MONICA SELES: It’s not a team format.

Q. Would you rather it would be?
MONICA SELES: I would rather it would be. But the Olympics, my personal view is so confusing, because in some sports you allow professionals to compete, then in some you don’t. You have some athletes who couldn’t care less and some who care a lot about it. But I love to see it. Tennis is so individual, you take Fed Cup, Team Tennis, it doesn’t get as much exposure than when you take the individual events.

Q. Can you talk about how you felt in your match tonight?
MONICA SELES: I knew going out I was pretty confident. I practiced with Tracy down at my friend’s house in Orlando a couple years back. I know her family. I haven’t seen her in quite awhile, haven’t played with her. I knew she would have a big serve. It’s a big occasion for her. I just thought if I stayed focused out there, I should be okay.