2002 Wimbledon – 2nd Rnd Interview

June 27, 2002

Seles d. Neffa-De Los Rios 6-4,6-0

MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. You had to work a little hard at the beginning?
MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely I started off a little bit slower. The last time I played her, I lost to her. It’s always a little bit more nervous going into a match like that.
Once I won the first set, I felt much better.

Q. Health-wise, are you feeling much better now than you were at the French Open?
MONICA SELES: Oh, pretty much. I mean, the French Open I felt well the first few days. The second week I got the cold. Here I had it the week before Wimbledon started. Now I think I’m feeling fine.

Q. A lot of people think it’s going to be a straight fight between the Williams girls or Jennifer. How do you feel about that?
MONICA SELES: I mean, definitely have to give them best chances to Serena and Venus, obviously Venus winning this the last two years. But, you know, it’s tennis, as we’ve seen yesterday. You just go out there and do the best job you can.

Q. What do you think of the next match?
MONICA SELES: I’ve never played her on this surface. I think it’s going to be a tough one because she takes the ball early. Going to be an aggressive player. I’ll have to play better, I think, than in today’s match.

Q. How does it feel to have Lindsay come back and play Fed Cup?
MONICA SELES: Great to have her on the team – just not on the team, but on the tour. She’s been a great champion. Just really looking forward to it.

Q. Have you been talking to her at all?
MONICA SELES: Last time I talked to her was Indian Wells.

Q. How about e-mail back and forth?
MONICA SELES: I don’t do e-mail, not with anybody (smiling).

Q. Not at all?
MONICA SELES: No, huh-uh.

Q. There have been quite a couple of surprises this time in the ladies’ side. What’s the reason for having a bigger gap between the Top 10 or Top 20 and all the rest?
MONICA SELES: I think it’s not impossible. You see at the French Open, you have Henin lose the first round, Clijsters in the third round, two players really never thought they would lose. I mean, Kim losing today to Likhovtseva, very tough third round match.
I think on the women’s side, the depth is really huge. There aren’t too many easy matches that you’re like, “I’ll get easily to the quarterfinals,” like 10 years ago. Nowadays it’s just a lot tougher, becoming more and more like the men’s tour.

Q. Do you think it will continue to get tougher?
MONICA SELES: Oh, definitely. I think the girls are just hitting the ball physically, stronger. It’s like men’s tennis on grass, really who has the more powerful serve. There are not too many rallies in most matches. It’s great to see someone like Hewitt doing so well who is staying back, still winning matches.

Q. Two members of the public have jumped onto Centre Court out of the crowd, been taken away by security. Given what happened to you in the past, do you think there’s a worrying development?
MONICA SELES: I couldn’t comment. I haven’t seen it. I have no idea.

Q. Lept onto the court, weren’t stopped by anyone.
MONICA SELES: During my match?

Q. No, after your match. They came on for a hit, apparently.
MONICA SELES: I think that’s the tournament’s responsibility, so…

Q. You said with the women, it’s slowly becoming like the men’s. What’s the reason for not having an equal sort of quality amongst the field, that there is still a gap?
MONICA SELES: I would say only there’s a little bit of a gap, very little one. I mean, that’s my feeling – if there is a gap. You just have so many floaters in the draw, that, gosh, could beat any top player on any given day or take a top player to three sets.
What happened yesterday on the men’s side doesn’t happen too often, losing Agassi, Sampras and Safin in one day. I mean, that’s very unusual.
But the women had that experience a few times. When someone like Steffi, who has won this tournament seven, eight times, there were years she lost in the first round. That happens. Everybody’s human.
You know, especially on a surface like this, where points can be over very quick. If you’re having a bad day, it’s done.

Q. How do you rate your chances this year now?
MONICA SELES: I’m just looking forward to playing my next-round opponent, Ai, on Saturday.

Q. Do you remember the first time you met Billie Jean and what you thought of her, what you’ve learned from her over the years?
MONICA SELES: I learn more and more about Billie as the years have come along. The first time, I mean, I just knew her name, but I didn’t know too well her history. I met her I think in 1989, so I got to know a lot more since about ’95.

Q. Even like these days, do you still pick up quite a bit from her?
MONICA SELES: Oh, definitely. That’s one huge advantage of playing Fed Cup. Gosh, she’s so helpful. You wish it wouldn’t be just one week here and one week there, because it’s very hard to apply that in one week to a match and go off and play like that.
But she just picks up so many things that would take most people a long time to do.

Q. Have you ever thought about having her coach you?
MONICA SELES: Yeah, there was a point where I was. I think once she decided with Fed Cup, I think it would be unfair. I think if you’re a Fed Cup captain, better keep that area separate.

Q. During Fed Cup, my understanding was that Billie Jean was trying to encourage you to come in, come in. Could you talk about that dynamic? Did you experiment with it? What happened? Just didn’t work?
MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely. I mean, it’s just so difficult. It’s not in my nature. I wish I’d done that when I was 15, 16. But in hindsight, looking back, even then, when you’re losing one match a year, it’s hard to not feel that pressure. “I’m going to experiment a little bit today.”
I think everyone was surprised how I volleyed, saying I’m crazy that I’m not going into net. I understand that. I’ve tried. I keep trying. But it’s very different playing a practice match and doing well than putting that in a regular match when there’s so much on the line.

Q. Could you comment that there’s so, so few women players who come to net?
MONICA SELES: It’s unfortunate.

Q. Is that something you’d like to see change?
MONICA SELES: Definitely. I think one of the best matches in my career I played against MartinaNavratilova. It was such a contrast in our game styles. Nowadays, in the new generation, you really don’t see that. Yeah, someone like Justine will come in at certain times, but no one that’s going to chip and charge and just attack at the net.

Q. Were you surprised to see Martina win at Eastbourne, given what you just said there? Were you surprised to see she won a singles match?
MONICA SELES: No. I played against her in exhibition, I knew she was playing well, in December. I knew she was playing well on a surface like grass, which suits her game really well. I think wining in Madrid has given her a lot of confidence – I guess she and her trainer. That was fantastic to see that.

Q. How do you think she’d do if she played a few more tournaments?
MONICA SELES: I don’t know. I’d be interested. I’d be interested to see how she would do. I really would love to see that.

Q. Do you want to talk about your (inaudible) with Martina, in terms of what it was like to go out on court with a grand old lady?
MONICA SELES: It’s very nerve-wracking, because all you can do is lose (laughter). There’s a lot of pressure. I understood that portion of the other girls having that.
At the same time, the last time I played her I think was Atlantic City when it was kind of my first match back after the stabbing. Didn’t really think I would play Martina again. I was just really surprised how well she’s playing, but I shouldn’t have been. You don’t lose that, what she’s had. She’s in phenomenal shape. Put her on a fast court, she can play very well.

Q. Are you happy with the security here at Wimbledon?

Q. You obviously saw yesterday Sampras and Agassi go out. That can be seen as sort of the exit of an old generation. I wonder if you have any thoughts on that? You were winning tournaments when they were. Obviously, there are younger people there.
MONICA SELES: Oh, definitely. But, I mean, Andre is four years older than I am. There’s still quite a difference there.
I do hope we’re going to see them back. I think Pete can still, and Andre, win this tournament. It’s just, you know, I mean, the level is so close.
Just a little bit you’re off, that’s it. Definitely it gets harder. Tennis is a sport that rewards the youth. As you get older, it definitely gets harder and harder day in and day out. There’s lots of stuff to worry about than hitting a ball.

Q. At this point Draper is ahead of Tim Henman in his match. If there’s a shocker and Tim loses, do you think Great Britain would fall into the sea?
MONICA SELES: I was here during World Cup. That was quite exciting. Let’s hope Tim wins this one.