2001 U.S. Open – 3rd Round Interview

New York, New York
August 31, 2001
M. Seles defeats Daniilidou 6-2,6-3

Q. You went out and hit after your match.
MONICA SELES: Yeah. I just wanted to hit because it was tough to get a rhythm with her. I always like to do that after a match. I couldn’t get a chance before because I was playing at night. I do that every tournament.

Q. How are you feeling?
MONICA SELES: I feel good. I mean, it was really humid out there, so I was happy to close it out in the second set. Got a little bit shaky there.
Next round should be definitely tougher than any of them that I faced up to now.

Q. I watched a bit of your match on television with Serena in the Canadian Open. You seem to be hitting the ball about as well as you’ve ever hit it. Would that be your assessment of how you’re playing now?
MONICA SELES: Definitely the last couple of years. I had some really good time. I played Serena here in the quarters of the US Open a couple years ago. I was playing well then. Definitely, I mean, the last couple weeks, those California tournaments, Canada, I was really striking the ball clean and not making too many unforced errors.

Q. Does it give you as much satisfaction now as ever? Are you as motivated and keen, get the same sort of thrill out of playing that well?
MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely. I mean, as soon as that’s gone, I think it’s time to stop competing, playing tennis competitively. There’s no need to be out there. It’s such a competitive world out there. Everybody wants to win.
You know, thank God I still have it.

Q. Are you more motivated than ever? You seem to be a little more committed to your fitness stuff.
MONICA SELES: Yeah, I think I had just a little bit less distraction off court. That has definitely helped. But I always felt as committed to the game. I mean, it was just certain times, you know, you have to put other things – family – comes first, different things. Now I’m really happy with the people I’m working with. After last year, I really like working with the people I had, but unfortunately we couldn’t continue. So it took me a while this year, again, to find a team. I think that makes a difference.

Q. Even for let’s say the less powerful players on the women’s tour, is it possible for them to pump up their service and be more effective?
MONICA SELES: I think on a consistent basis, it’s tough. You have to have the height, no questions there. Serena’s serving technique, I saw some footage of Roscoe Tanner, he wasn’t as tall, but he was serving fast. I think you’d have to be really strong in the upper body, have almost a perfect technique compared to a taller person’s serve.

Q. But if you were a top player and you had great technique to begin with, you moved your serve considerably up.
MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely. Nowadays it’s so key to hold a service game. If you look against the Williams sisters or Davenport, it’s one or two service games here or there that decide the match. The services have become a lot stronger. I think all of us are trying to improve the serve.
For me, I mean, I do think it would help me tremendously to maybe even earn one single point a game on my serve. But at the same time, it’s tough to change the technique during tournaments, which I tried last year, and it really messed me up.

Q. The other day we asked you about what life would be like without tennis. You spoke rather eloquently about the suffering of your contemporaries in your homeland. You never spoke about yourself. I know tennis has been everything in your life. Can you imagine what your life would be like, what kind of career path you could possibly have?
MONICA SELES: I mean, gosh, who knows? Who knows? I could have stayed there. I could have gotten out other ways. I really don’t know.
I think I was just really lucky to find something that I had a passion for early on. This generation, it’s tough. There are so many opportunities. It’s so open. Everything is accepted nowadays. It’s kind of tough to find, not just for me, not only in tennis, but in general, what career path you want to choose down the road.
Beforehand, it was very different. You got married. You stopped working. I think women my age are facing a lot of different challenges. I’ve been lucky so far that I found something that I love to do. Hopefully after tennis, I’ll find something else that I have as much passion for and look forward to doing when I wake up in the morning, I guess.

Q. Are you saying there are almost too many options?
MONICA SELES: Not too many options. You can travel on the spur of a moment, here, there, get a job. With the European community opening up, you can work in so many different countries that beforehand was closed. In America, you can change professions so fast.
I mean, the role of women is being defined differently in society. We see that even in the sports world.

Q. Do you have any ideas what you might want to do after tennis that you have a passion for?
MONICA SELES: I really don’t know. I mean, I have some ideas. You know, I don’t want to say them because who knows what I want to do. I don’t want to box myself into one thing or the other.
Something along the line with kids, but I really don’t know. I don’t want to say anything (smiling).

Q. Speaking of not getting any rhythm, in all likelihood you’ll be facing Meghann in the next round. Go-for-broke, loose limbs, not too many long rallies out there.

Q. How do you combat her?
MONICA SELES: Each match I played Meghann has been really close. Maybe the last one was not as close, except the first set. I’ve beaten her twice, last year once. Meghann, she’s been playing so well this year. Her serve is fantastic. She’s a great mover. She’s also an attacker.
Whoever is going to attack the ball probably first and make less errors and stuff like that is going to be coming out a winner out of that match.

Q. She can hit 50 winners and 60 unforced errors in one match. Do you get some feel for her game early in the first set as to how she’s going to do that day?
MONICA SELES: You do. But it can change. I mean, she’s a player that can change. One thing, why she’s improved so much in the ranking, she’s a lot more consistent. I saw her play at Stanford against Venus. Gosh, she was just playing unreal. The next day she didn’t play as well against Kim.
But I think in a Grand Slam, you really expect everyone to be playing their best and going for broke because it’s not just like a regular tournament. “Okay, another match.” Here, everybody is pumped up when they step out there.

Q. What are the different ways women’s tennis has changed since the early to mid-’90s to the way it is now? We always talk about power.
MONICA SELES: In the game or outside?

Q. Inside.
MONICA SELES: Amongst players, definitely physically everybody is in a lot better shape, a lot stronger. Everybody’s goal is to get really strong, which beforehand we had a few players, but the other players really kind of didn’t even want to get strong because they felt, “We don’t want to go down that road.” Now everybody wants to go down that road.
The ball is just being hit a lot harder. I think kids growing up seeing Martina, Steffi and myself realized, “We got to hit it harder.” I think the kids who are going to grow up now, it’s going to be interesting to see how much harder can the ball be hit. The serve is a lot more of a weapon. There’s so much more depth to it than beforehand.

Q. IS the actual competition more intense? Do you feel a greater intensity of competition every round than you did in ’91, ’92?
MONICA SELES: I do sometimes, sometimes I don’t. When I look back at my French Opens, to get to the semis two years in a row, I played like three or four three-set matches. I think for me it’s difficult to say because when I first came on tour, I was the youngest. I kind of came into Martina, Chrissy were established, Steffi, and finally Jennifer came long. Now I’m more on the older side.
I view things probably differently than when I originally came on the tour.

Q. Have you developed a passion for strength-training? Do you love it or is it something you have to do?
MONICA SELES: Personally, I love playing tennis. I’m not that crazy on doing weights. But I really know that it has to become a part of my life, really even after tennis, just staying in general shape. You do feel a lot better when you’re stronger and more flexible, stuff like that.
If you would give me a choice between playing tennis even three hours, going into the weight room for an hour, I would pick tennis, but that’s just because I love the game.

Q. You were saying earlier in the ’90s, some people didn’t even want to go down that road. What was the prevailing feeling?
MONICA SELES: I think people at that stage, being strong wasn’t that feminine. They didn’t want to lift weights, have muscles, stuff like that. I think the view has really changed on that.

Q. You were mentioning how the game has changed on the court. Has it changed off the court between the players as well?
MONICA SELES: Oh, definitely, there’s a big change. It’s just a different generation totally.