2002 Wimbledon – 1st Round Interview

June 25, 2002

1st Round: Seles d. Bes 6-0,6-0

MODERATOR: Questions for Monica.

Q. Nice to have grass under your feet again?
MONICA SELES: I just played well. I think she was having a hard time adjusting to grass. She’s definitely better on clay. For my first match, I was happy to have an opponent like her today.

Q. Not much of a workout?
MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely. But I really didn’t want to sweat too much because I’ve been struggling with a bad cold this past week. I haven’t got to be as prepared as I wanted to. But happy to play, and hopefully next, you know, match will be tougher and gradually get tougher and tougher.

Q. How much have you been able to practice?
MONICA SELES: It’s been on and off this past week. I had a bad cold in Paris, got rid of it, one week here, got it back again. The new drug rules, you pretty much cannot take anything.
But let it run its course. I still am going to practice this week, so I’ll be okay.

Q. Does that make you weary of what medication you take? Is it difficult to find the right thing?
MONICA SELES: Right now you really have to be very careful. I think we changed to the IOC rules. They’re extremely strict. You know, couldn’t find a doctor here that was cooperating with that. Finally we found one. Just have to be very, very careful with how they explain I think to the players right now.

Q. What treatment do you need actually?
MONICA SELES: I just really need a simple case of antibiotics, I think. And I got it in Paris. But that was a special kind that was allowed. The doctor said the one I had to take wasn’t allowed. The one I had to take wouldn’t help. Just a 10-day thing, run its course.

Q. What are you suffering from?
MONICA SELES: I had a very bad virus, a cold.

Q. Do you believe in your heart you can still win another Grand Slam?
MONICA SELES: I mean, I really believe that — yeah, I believe that. I definitely wouldn’t be out here if I wouldn’t. That’s one thing that keeps me that drive, I guess, to work hard and each time improving. Realistically this is the tournament I have the least chances. But I really enjoy playing here.
When the weather is like today, it definitely suits my game more.
Take it a match at a time.

Q. Why do you think you have the least chance here, as splendidly as you played here?
MONICA SELES: I think it’s one surface that my movement is not my strength of my game. This is one surface that really rewards players like that. I’m a very good striker of the ball, so I think that helps me here. My return and serve are probably one of my strong points.
But as any tournament, I just look to the next match. Don’t really think, “Can I win it, cannot win it.” You can’t let your mind get too far ahead. I learned that lessons many times.

Q. Does it annoy you that people are only talking about the Williams sisters and Capriati?
MONICA SELES: No not at all. I went through that in the early ’90s. That’s a difficult pressure. It’s a tough pressure when you’re on top, and it’s a tough pressure when you’re struggling with your game as we’ve seen with a few players.
Venus and Serena deserve that honor definitely. They’ve played very well the past couple of weeks coming into Wimbledon, being in the finals of the French, Serena winning it, Venus I think winning twice now Wimbledon. So they definitely are the players to beat at this tournament.

Q. What do you think of the fact that the top tour seeds are all American?
MONICA SELES: I think it’s great. I mean, it’s great to see that. It’s been a long time. You know, everybody keeps talking about American tennis. I guess the men’s side is a little bit struggling. I think it’s going through a generation shift.
Women’s tennis we’re lucky – my generation. You have in the middle Lindsay, Jennifer. Then you have the Williamses and a few of the young ones who will definitely carry the American flag for a long time.

Q. Have you spoken to Lindsay?
MONICA SELES: I haven’t spoken to her, but I keep passing messages. I’m going to see her at Fed Cup, which I’m really excited.

Q. When you look at the sense of history, is there a sense that you’ve got to get your name on this title, too, to complete?
MONICA SELES: No, I don’t have that sense about really any of the tournaments. I keep saying this. I started playing tennis because I loved it. Truly, it’s the same thing. The game has gotten a lot tougher now because the girls are a lot bigger physically, and that’s one area I’ve lacked. That’s why I can keep hovering around the 4 and 6 in the world, but not No. 1 like I was.
I think it’s going to be hard for anyone to dominate as much as Steffi was those few years I was out, the beginning of the ’90s.
As I always said, I love coming back to Wimbledon. I went to the museum here before the tournament started. The new improvements are great. Sure makes a difference when you have great weather like this.

Q. Goran showed last year that surprises can happen.
MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely. I mean, gosh, it was great to see him win it finally because I think he had so many chances to win it. It was one of those things you hope is going to happen – I think everyone around it. Gosh, you really wanted Patrick to also win it. I hope he comes back and wins this tournament.

Q. You have seen the problems that Anna had with the TV interview yesterday. PamShriver said that was showing the real side of Anna that we don’t normally see. Would you subscribe to that?
MONICA SELES: I didn’t see the interview, but it’s been in the talk in the locker room this morning. I would hate to comment on one thing because I’m going by what other players are saying. I hate to do that. I missed it, for better or worse, I don’t know.
Anna is definitely going through a difficult period. I think she’ll get through it. She’s a very strong personality. Each one of us has a crisis kind of – or crisis in your career. It’s a tough one she’s going through. She had a tough injury. You know, she’s going to have to have a few matches, win, to get her confidence back and I think start playing better.

Q. Are you surprised it’s taken her so long to get back?
MONICA SELES: I personally am a little bit. I really thought she would come back faster. Nowadays, if you miss a few months, it’s really tough. I mean, it was tough for me to come back, just because the game is so close. But I’ve seen she’s practicing really hard. She’s out there many hours hitting the ball. She has a great coach in Harold. I think she has the right ingredients. Hopefully that will pay off for her.

Q. At the age of 28, is retirement still on the distant horizon?
MONICA SELES: I don’t know. I really don’t know that. I’m taking it week at a time. My main goal is just to make sure I’m still enjoying it. I’m not doing it for any other reasons, because there’s no need to. And I’m still a level I’m happy with, injury-free, and my family are happy with my decision in terms of that. That’s really all that matters to me.
I have no commitments saying, “I have to play through this year,” stuff like that. I really am at a great stage in my career where truly I’m playing it because I want to, for no one else, for money, or whatever else reasons.

Q. You’re looking always to the future and not to the past anymore?
MONICA SELES: Well, I like to stay in the present. That’s the best, I learned (laughter). You know, you get caught up in the future. But the present is happening without us realizing it or not. So I’ve learned that.
But at the same time I look forward to the time when I can come to Wimbledon and really enjoy it without the pressure of playing a match and practicing, just really enjoying it.

Q. You mentioned the time you were out. The past is always in the back of your mind.
MONICA SELES: That made me the person that I am. Certain things you cannot forget. That changed the course of my career. There’s no need to go back there, you know, day in, day out, to revisit that. That’s part of me and that will always stay there.
But at the same time right now I’m in a happy position. You know, my family’s healthy. That’s definitely, I learned, one of the most important things. I’m healthy. Right now I’m playing some solid tennis.

Q. Why do you think there’s been so many injuries on the women’s side this year? Is there any explanation for that?
MONICA SELES: I just think it’s way too many tournaments. The ranking system is very tough. If you don’t play enough, you get really punished – just speaking from my point of view. I mean, that’s why I’m playing so many tournaments, because otherwise your ranking falls and you have to play the top players in earlier rounds.
But I know the tour is looking into that and they’re going to try slowly to reduce the tournaments. It’s not easy from the business standpoint of what do you do with the tournaments and stuff like that.
But I think for the longevity of the stars of the game, you have to do that because we’re seeing very serious injuries happening to top players very early on in their careers.

Q. Do you think it’s exacerbated by women thinking they really have to step up their conditioning programs and do more off the court to maybe keep up with the power game?
MONICA SELES: Yeah, I mean, definitely. If you’re not power, I mean, really you don’t have too much of a chance. Very few players can balance it out. Definitely a lot more players are working harder off court than in the past.
But I really don’t think that’s the case. I mean, you look at tennis. It’s one of the few sports that truly you have a month “off-season,” but three weeks out of that month you’re getting ready for Australia. One day you’re playing in cold weather, next day hot weather, this surface, that surface. The time changes. It’s a lot of wear and tear on your body. At the same time you’re dealing with an emotional roller coaster of a win/loss. Everything is tougher. Traveling is a lot more difficult nowadays than it was before.
I think it all plays into that, compared to a team athlete, everything is just taken care of, all that stuff.

Q. What is the best thing for your personal body in terms of do you play a week or two or three, then take X amount of time off?
MONICA SELES: Well, I mean, I would have thought at this stage in my career I would know that. I really don’t. I made the mistake of playing too many tournaments, of playing Australia, Tokyo, Europe, Far East, Europe. I was pretty much dead by the middle of this year. I decided to take a little time off.
I struggle with that because it’s hard to find a balance that you play enough tournaments for your ranking, yet at the same time you try to keep your body and mind healthy, you know, have enough time to get ready. To play well, I mean, you have to practice and try to peak at the right times.

Q. Jennifer was asked yesterday about the Fed Cup situation, whether she had any regrets about it. Didn’t sound like she did. Is that a situation where you would go to her and try to maybe soothe things over, try to get her back into the family?
MONICA SELES: I think that really is Billie Jean’s job. As I said, the USTA asked me not to comment on this, and I really have to respect their wishes.
But I hope Lindsay and Lisa and Meghann and myself will win this tie so we can get back into the group. It was definitely a devastating loss to Austria for all of us on the team.

Q. Are you playing mixed doubles?
MONICA SELES: No. Singles.