2000 Wimbledon – 3rd Round Interview

June 29, 2000
M. Seles defeats S. Pitkowski 6-0,6-3

Q. Easiest match so far?

MONICA SELES: Definitely. I think it helped that her serve wasn’t as powerful. I could really use my groundstrokes to much better force than my previous two matches.

Q. Does it really help in mid tournament to have a slightly easier match?

MONICA SELES: Well, I think the first one was hard because I haven’t played on grass. It was my first match. I was nervous. Second one, she was just serving well. But today I knew coming in that she’s going to have mostly back court points. It’s nice to have a match that’s a little bit easier; not as close as the first two.

Q. What do you think about your chances, presuming Arantxa gets through?

MONICA SELES: I never played Arantxa on grass. Last time we played was Amelia. It’s going to be a tough match. I mean, it’s probably going to be back court tennis. It’s going to be a close match.

Q. No matter who comes in here, no matter which clique from the locker room, they all say they like you. Why do you think it’s come to that over the years?

MONICA SELES: I don’t know. I really don’t know. I mean, I’ve never talked to players about that. That’s very nice.

Q. Are you honestly nicer?

MONICA SELES: I really don’t think I was unconsciously not nice. I think first year on the tour, there were two players on the tour for whatever reason they disliked me. They were the players who talked a lot on the tour to other players. I was 14, 15, really in my own shell kind of. Just said, “Hi,” “Bye,” looked down at the floor. I was very shy. I think that’s how people perceived me I think in the beginning. Then by like when I was 18, they realised that I was different. I changed probably as a person, too. I was much more open. I wasn’t as shy as I was when I was 14.

Q. Speaking of popularity, the tabloid press here covers Wimbledon so much differently than the newspapers at other Grand Slams. Alternately, you’ve come under some tabloid coverage here for grunting a long time ago, for gaining weight a couple years ago. Do you read them? Are you humored by them? Angered?

MONICA SELES: I used to read them. I had a lot of long talks with my dad about that, because obviously he was a journalist, too. Nowadays, I really don’t. I just don’t open a paper like that, whether I be in them or not. Thank goodness I haven’t been in them. That’s really it.

Q. Given all you’ve been through, what would a Wimbledon championship mean?

MONICA SELES: I mean, any championship would be unbelievable. Winning Wimbledon would truly be amazing. You can’t really even put that in words. But I’m in the fourth round, and I have such a long way to go that all I’m doing right now is focusing on my next match.

Q. Do you still discount your chances here pretty much or are you getting more confident going into the second week?

MONICA SELES: I mean, coming into the tournament, my personality is that I would not enter a tournament if I would not believe I could win it. This tournament is no different. I understand that I have limitations maybe. But I’ve talked to a lot of people and tried to improve upon it year after year, improved a little bit my fitness, which has helped. But really any tournament, I felt I had a good chance at the French. You play someone who’s in such a good form like Mary, and you’re out. The same thing goes here. Just really have to take it match at a time, almost ball at a time.

Q. What are your limitations here, do you feel?

MONICA SELES: Well, I would not want to say that, just let the other players discover that (laughter).

Q. The other day you had really an interesting comment. You said you didn’t feel bitter, but you felt hurt. Could you take a moment and just explain that distinction?

MONICA SELES: About the stabbing?

Q. Yes.

MONICA SELES: How would you want me to explain that once more?

Q. You don’t have feelings of anger about what happened?

MONICA SELES: No, because I’m very clear what happened in my own mind. I have no feelings about that. It’s unfortunate that that’s not how things are perceived. I’ve moved on. Certain things are not going to change. But I have no anger or bitterness over that, no.

Q. Have you let the injustice of the legal side of it just go away, too?

MONICA SELES: Well, there was so much injustice in there that maybe one day when someone really looks into it, they’ll realise that.

Q. You said you used to read the tabloids; you don’t anymore. What from the days when you used to read them stands out most when you think back? What was written about you?

MONICA SELES: Well, it was hard not to read them when you’re on the front page about the “gruntometer,” the bomb threat, different things. It’s hard not to miss articles like that. So those were times when you’re forced to read them. Going into the press conference, you know those will be the questions asked. In those situations really my father helped tremendously.

Q. What was the impact of those headlines on you, if any? When you think about the tabloids in general, do you have views about what should be in-bounds and out-of-bounds for the coverage?

MONICA SELES: I think looking back now, I would not let certain things bother me. That’s probably growing as a person. At that time I was I think 17 years old when those things were written about me. For sure, I would not let that affect me as much as it did in ’92 Wimbledon. That’s past. I learned my lesson from that.

Q. What is the general feeling in the locker room among all the players about the tabloids? Do you guys –?

MONICA SELES: There’s not paper in the locker room, no.

Q. Do you have feelings yourself about the way the tabloids cover the players in the tournament and what should be in-bounds and out-of-bounds for coverage?

MONICA SELES: No, huh-uh.

Q. You went through this evolution on how you were perceived. Pretty major change. Do you have a couple words of advice for Alexandra now that she’s going through this difficult period?

MONICA SELES: I think it’s different, totally different thing. Mine were outside factors involved in it. I mean, the grunting was something that I never said. It was just while I was playing. The other articles written on me in ’92 were also things that I didn’t cause and didn’t do. It’s very different. I can’t relate to Alexandra because her life and her experience are totally different than mine. It’s very hard for me to comment on that. I really like Alexandra as a person. I got to know her a little bit. She’s now at the academy. I think she just really needs to focus on her tennis and really that should be her priority, if she wants to be the best tennis player. She surely has the talent. I think she’s a hard-working girl, but she needs to focus I think all her energy on that. I can’t speak for her really. It’s hard. I don’t know what has been going on, as I said. I just know in the past, last year at Wimbledon, she had a fantastic run. That’s hard to live up to, I think, to expect. She hasn’t had a great year. But in some ways maybe that’s good, that’s going to make her work harder. Definitely she’ll have less pressure, I think, this year. Same for Mirjana, too. Sometimes that’s not a bad thing.

Q. What do you like best about England?

MONICA SELES: For me it’s difficult because I have quite a few friends here. Obviously when you have friends, you love to come back and visit. I love the countryside. I just love the lifestyle. I mean, the only thing I really am not too crazy about is the rain just because it’s difficult to plan something. Besides that, I really like it. I come back to London quite often in the year.

Q. What is the role of the veteran player in the locker room? Do you think it’s their responsibility to make it comfortable for the younger players?

MONICA SELES: I really think all the young players, they’re all mature nowadays. We’re all there before our matches. Each of us in our own little hole getting ready for the match. Of young players I’ve talked to, a few who have asked to talk to me for advice, I’ll do anytime. But for me to go up to someone, I would not feel comfortable doing that.