2000 Wimbledon – 1st Round Interview

June 27, 2000
M. Seles defeats Habsudova 3-6,6-2,7-5

Q. 30-40, breakpoint, third set, how tough was that service return?

MONICA SELES: It was just a tough match. I mean, thank goodness I served well today because my returns were nowhere in sight. But that was a key game. I knew that I had to just stay very aggressive throughout it because she will. She’s that type of player. I never played her, so I kind of didn’t know what tendency she’ll have at key times.

Q. Can you give me more detail on that particular service return that led to the breakpoint.

MONICA SELES: Really don’t remember it, sorry (laughter).

Q. I want to see it through your eyes.

MONICA SELES: I truthfully don’t remember it. I would just have to be lying. I don’t.

Q. Is that a sign of how focused you were in the moment?

MONICA SELES: I think so. Points go here so fast. She came out playing so well in the first set. I could have been really packing my bags very fast. I just said to myself, “Just don’t give up and keep playing.” I’ve been practising for a week on grass, but haven’t really played any matches. I’ve been playing practise matches, but it’s so different playing regular matches.
Q. You’ve had an interesting history at this tournament. What are your feelings about the tournament?

MONICA SELES: Well, I love the tournament. I mean, I love the surroundings. I love the court. It just unfortunately doesn’t suit my game. In terms of that it’s been really frustrating really from the first time I played Wimbledon in ’89. Besides that, I really love everything about the tournament.

Q. Players who don’t do well here tend not to do well, and players who feel confident feel they can play well on grass, do even more so than other tournaments. Is there any way to turn that around?

MONICA SELES: It’s hard. I mean, I’ve talked to a few people about it who have done very well here. You know, that’s one thing you keep trying. I mean, if I would have given up, I probably would just decide, “Okay, I’m not going to just play.” That’s one area you just keep trying, working hard, getting in better shape. That definitely helps on the surface. Using more my lefty serve. But I have to up my returns, I think, for my next match.

Q. Just a few minutes ago in the room here Nathalie, knowing it was her last Wimbledon, broke down and was weeping a little bit. Do you try and sort of treasurer your career? Do you try and get value out of each big moment?

MONICA SELES: I just really love to play the game of tennis. I mean, nothing really besides that matters to me as much as I think my love for the game. Whether that be playing in a Grand Slam or whether that be practising at home, I just love to play. When I wake up in the morning, that’s one of my favorite things to do. I’m just very lucky I can do it professionally, plus I can do it health-wise and all that other stuff with it.

Q. Is it mostly just the thrill of striking the ball?

MONICA SELES: I just love to play the game. Really every morning when I get up, there were periods in my life when I didn’t have this, and the past few years have been difficult and there’s times I probably didn’t want to be on the tennis court. But I have to say the past six months, it really appears I was looking forward to going out on the court. It’s really nice to have that feeling back because for a long time it wasn’t there, not on my own, but because of other stuff outside. So it’s just nice to have that back again.

Q. When is the last time you were in the shape you’re in right now, which appears to be very, very good?

MONICA SELES: I’ve been working really hard on that. I probably think I was in good shape when I worked with Gavin there, a couple-month period. We could never really establish consistency. That’s one of my goals where I decided I’m going to do this consistency and stick with it because there’s still a long road to go. But just the little that I’ve improved I can already feel the difference. The way the women’s game is going right now, truly it’s a must if you the to be a contender to winning tournaments right now.

Q. Was it because you had to share time with Mark Philippoussis with Gavin, you needed him full-time?

MONICA SELES: Pretty much. It’s just impossible to travel on the women’s tour and the men’s tour and work with someone four or five hours a day, then go and work with someone else. Gavin has amazing energy, he’s unbelievable. I just think logistically, it became impossible.

Q. Are you a natural workout person or do you need somebody to drive you?

MONICA SELES: No, I think for me the biggest realisation was when I realised that for tennis, I don’t need anybody to drive me, but for workouts at this point I do need because it’s not one of my favorite things to do. The last couple weeks, I’ve gotten to like it more. When I take one day off a week, I’ve kind of started to miss it. That would be one habit I’d really like to establish. I was kind of proud of myself that I noticed that, that for so many years I didn’t see that. Thank goodness I didn’t see it yet too late.

Q. I know it’s kind of a large question, but do you feel you’ve ever regained the standards that you set before you were attacked in Hamburg?

MONICA SELES: It’s so hard because it’s totally different then. I lost two matches a year. I maybe had a great year, half a great year, in ’95, then I had long times that I didn’t play in there. It’s hard. I definitely am not even near where I was at that point. I think Steffi and I, those few years, were just dominating the tennis.

Q. I know there are a lot of issues involved. If you haven’t regained them, why haven’t you?

MONICA SELES: I think we see that even when players have been injured, take the Williams sisters, even Lindsay for let’s say a month and a half, it takes them quite a long time to come back. You have to think that I didn’t touch a racquet for two and a half years. I really wasn’t looking too forward to sitting in a chair again where someone stabbed me, who never got anything for it, and a lot of other things that went on. There were a lot of hurdles for me to overcome on my own, and then obviously some other hurdles, too. But I think that’s for sure one of the biggest things that has been hard because I was playing so well at that point in my career. I was at a prime age of 19 for the sport, and that happened.

Q. You still feel bitter about it at all?

MONICA SELES: I don’t feel bitter about it, no. I never really felt bitter about it ever. I just felt hurt. I still do feel hurt about it.

Q. Were you surprised at how the game had moved on when you came back?

MONICA SELES: In what sense? When I came back?

Q. You said you didn’t pick up a racquet for two and a half years.

MONICA SELES: The game I don’t think really changed the two and a half years I was away. That was the period that women’s tennis was struggling because Steffi started dominating, she won six, seven eight Grand Slams in that time span. I think tennis got a boost. I came back in ’95. Then in ’97 when we had all the young players come up, that’s why it’s at such a fantastic point right now, women’s tennis.

Q. Do you see yourself making Sarasota a lifelong home? If so, why?

MONICA SELES: It’s my home. I mean, I’ve been talking to my mom about it for a while the last couple weeks because she was spending more time in Europe. For me, my home is there. All my friends are there really. I love the community. I’ve been involved in it. Just feels home to me really.

Q. Can you give me a comment on Jim Courier who retired recently? The occasion wasn’t particularly marked. You were at Bollettieri’s, you knew him.

MONICA SELES: I just love Jim. I got to talk to him a couple of weeks before he retired, and he never mentioned anything to me about it. He was just one of the hardest working guys out there. Some of the guys at the academy at that point didn’t take tennis seriously. His work ethic was truly amazing. I believe that he brought fitness into tennis, a certain level, too. Before then, you never had a tennis player travel with a fitness coach. Maybe Ivan and Martina, but not a general rule. Then after that, everybody started having a fitness coach. He’s just a great guy. I got to know him pretty well obviously as a youngster and then later on. I just really like him as a person a lot.

Q. He worked out quite a bit.

MONICA SELES: Obviously you heard Nick’s story. I don’t have to repeat it again. I think he was one of the hardest working guys.

Q. Have you run into him here?

MONICA SELES: I haven’t seen him yet.

Q. Have him critique one of your matches as a media commentator?

MONICA SELES: He can’t do that (laughter).

Q. What’s the best case scenario for you?

MONICA SELES: I look forward to playing every match. You can’t look too far here. Obviously the points are very quick. Just really after today, just go back and keep practising, just come out for my next match trying to play better than I did today.

Q. Is this the toughest of the Grand Slams to go in? Are there more attitude issues at Wimbledon than the other Grand Slams because of the radical nature of the surface, all the tradition, which some people really don’t like, some people love?

MONICA SELES: I think it’s a divided feeling amongst players. I think here you just have to have the first strike at the ball really. Serve and return (are/aren’t) exaggerated how important they are. On a good day, if someone has powerful strokes and they’re going in, there’s not much you can do. On clay can you stay in there, even on hard courts.

Q. You’ve actually been in the final here. You’re not exactly hopeless.

MONICA SELES: No, no (laughter).

Q. You might have a little chance to do something.

MONICA SELES: Thank you (laughter).

Q. What are your thoughts on the world’s most prestigious tournament, most traditional tournament, playing on a surface that is some would call arcane, rarely used?

MONICA SELES: Wimbledon is Wimbledon. There’s only one Wimbledon. It has to stay that way, I think. I’m sure it will stay that way. There’s an aura about it. Certain people have a certain aura, some don’t. Wimbledon has it. There’s only one like it. I think you feel that from the moment you walk into the grounds. I’ve been very lucky to talk to Billie a lot about it, a couple times to Martina, just relive some of the earlier years, some years I wasn’t even born, that it’s really the same. I’m sure if I come back 50 years from now to watch Wimbledon, it will be the same.

Q. Are you with a fitness coach now?

MONICA SELES: He works with Bobby Kersey (ph). His name is Chris.