2002 U.S. Open – 2nd Rnd Interview

August 29, 2002

Seles d. Schwartz 1-6,7-6,6-2

MODERATOR: Questions for Monica.

Q. Quite a turnaround, and the crowd.
MONICA SELES: Really the crowd pulled me through tonight’s match big time. I came out very flat. The conditions were tough. She is a tough opponent to play, she doesn’t give you any rhythm. Losing to her the last time.
But really the crowd just totally pulled me through it tonight.

Q. There’s such an emotional response to you everywhere you go, especially here. What is that like?
MONICA SELES: It’s great. Gosh, really today I could have lost pretty much without their help out there, on the plane back home tomorrow.
It’s just great. It’s a great feeling at this stage of my career.

Q. Is that the most meaningful thing to you in your career? You obviously have all your titles, great strokes, money. Is the fan appreciation great?
MONICA SELES: It is just great. Really, it’s hard to describe that feeling, how good that feels. You know, I mean, I went through a period when I just came on the tour that that was not the case. I would play against Navratilova, she would get that. “I wish one day I would get it.” Now that I have it, there’s really no feeling like it.

Q. What do you think the fans see in you that touches them?
MONICA SELES: I don’t know that. You’d have to ask them. I can’t talk about myself. That would be hard for me.

Q. Does it kind of blow your mind, you won this thing 10 years ago?
MONICA SELES: Definitely, a long time ago. I didn’t play it for a couple years, too. I think three years I missed, the best years. Yeah, definitely.
Coming here first time I think in ’89, almost trying to make it in ’88, being here, I’m just happy. This is one of the few Grand Slams I did really not have to miss in the later stages of my career.

Q. Do you think if you had told 18-year-old Monica Seles everything that was going to happen in the next 10 years, you would have believed a word of it?
MONICA SELES: No, I mean, for whatever reason in my life there have been some events that made it very difficult, both on and off the court. That’s the hand that you’re dealt with.
I’m very happy doing what I’m doing right now. That’s really all that matters.

Q. Stupid question maybe, but you’re 28, you won every title, lots of money, why not just hang it up?
MONICA SELES: Really that’s not what it is. My life is very complicated even right now today, sitting here. If that would be the case, you know, the reason. Really not. I don’t know. I just really love the game. It’s so simple for me. As a little girl, that’s why I started. As long as I can compete professionally and I’m happy at that level, injury-free. But I also know I’ll play tennis in my old age, too.
It’s just a sport that I love. I’ve been very lucky to make actually a living at it, not just having to have it as a hobby and have another job.

Q. Life does get more complicated as you get older. Does that make you appreciate the game even more in your later years?
MONICA SELES: I think, yeah, definitely. In my life, I haven’t made anything complicated. Unfortunately it’s all been other people. But that’s how it is. It made me just, you know, do what you have to do.

Q. What kind of things do you feel like you still want to accomplish out here?
MONICA SELES: Well, a lot of things. I’d like to play a couple times before I stop competing, playing a really good match. That’s one of my goals. You know, obviously win some more titles.

Q. Tennis is defined by the four Grand Slam tournaments. Each has their personality. I think it’s fair to say the US Open is, in a way, a big pain in the neck, but it’s also kind of wonderful. Is it your favorite of the Slams?
MONICA SELES: I really could not pick. I mean, I used to say it was Australia at some point, then it was the French, then it was The Open. Now I love Wimbledon, too. Each one is so unique, the atmosphere of each one. They’re so different from each other. You’ve got to prepare mentally different for each one of them.

Q. For people who haven’t been in the center of the pit of one of those stadiums, compare it to something else.
MONICA SELES: Well, I mean, I’ve never really been on stage, besides like presenting awards. It’s very different, if you’re a singer or stuff. I just know when I first came here to The Open as a spectator in ’86, gosh, I was like in such awe of the big stadium, all the people. It didn’t even cross my mind that one day I would play and win one of my titles there.
I think when I retire and come back again as a spectator, I’ll have even a better perspective as I’ve gotten older and went through more things.

Q. Did you ever meet Arthur Ashe?
MONICA SELES: I did, yeah, a few times.

Q. Do you have any thoughts about him?
MONICA SELES: I think he was a wonderful gentleman. Gosh, he had to go through so much stuff in his life besides being one of the greatest tennis players. It was a — he was a wonderful human being.

Note: The above is a partial transcript.