2002 Wimbledon – 3rd Rnd Interview

June 29, 2002

Seles d. Sugiyama 4-6,6-1,6-4

MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Some ups and downs today?
MONICA SELES: Definitely. I started off very sluggishly, a lot of service breaks at key times. Second set I played well, first set I played well. Really at 5-2, I just played some two great games. I was lucky to hold my serve there.

Q. You’ve beaten Ai eight times before without giving a set. After the first set today, did that give you a sense of alarm?
MONICA SELES: Well, I knew this is the surface that suits the most her game. I knew she would be a tough opponent today. I’ve been close to losing a set to her before. It comes down to one or two points. I had a good wake-up call when I lost that first set. It made me just really play and be more focused.

Q. In the third set, it’s this tight set, and meanwhile on Henman Hill just beyond you, it’s erupting during the tiebreak set, Centre Court. Can you talk about, are you aware of that when you’re serving?
MONICA SELES: Well, I mean, you’re aware of it. You can’t not be because it’s really loud. At the same time you’re just really trying to stay focused and not let it be a distraction. On grass, one or two games can go very fast by.

Q. After you won Madrid, I believe you made some sort of reference that you didn’t know how long you would keep playing, you thought Paris might be your last. You seem to be doing very well here. Are you having a good time? And do you see an end to your career?
MONICA SELES: Oh, yeah. Well, I see an end to my professional career. As the game of tennis, I’ll keep playing as long as I can because I love it as a sport, for sure.
And as I said after every tournament, I don’t know. I don’t want to have that pressure to say, “Okay, I’m going to definitely retire by this certain date or this year.” No need to do that. I’m not a person who is going to have a farewell tour or that stuff.
I’m just going to play, and when that point comes that my body or mentally I’m tired of it, stop, enjoy a little bit life.

Q. “I don’t want to prepare anymore”?
MONICA SELES: I think it’s a combination of both. It’s a lot of traveling, a lot of sacrifices in your personal life involved when you want to be at a high level, how long your body, you know, stays injury-free and obviously what level you are playing at.

Q. As you do start to look forward to the next stage of your life, do you ever look back and wonder how much was lost during those 27 months?
MONICA SELES: Oh, not during those 27 months. How much was lost that one day when it happened to me, definitely. But that’s one thing, you know, I had nothing to do with it. It was beyond my control.
Everything in my life that was in my control, I’m very happy with.

Q. You once said that after you finish playing tennis, you wanted to be an actress.
MONICA SELES: I said that back in ’89 (laughter). It was a long time ago, but anyway. Back in the archives, but…

Q. What do you see yourself doing in 2002 at that point?
MONICA SELES: I think I’m going to take a year off and just really have a life, you know, just enjoying time with my friends and family at home without a schedule. I really would want to do that.
Since I was seven or eight years old, I always had a schedule. And after that, I kind of have an idea of which direction I want to go towards, too. You know, I don’t think it will involve tennis because I want a new challenge. You actually never know. So many things can come and happen in your life. So you try not to plan too far ahead.

Q. Do you get a chuckle out of all the hubbub made of Anna Kournikova now? Do you recall back to your days in ’89 when everyone was noting every hairstyle change of yours?
MONICA SELES: Well, I mean, as I said, when you have a lot of attention, there’s good parts to it and bad parts. Good part is you’re doing well, you’re very well-known, anything you want gets done. Obviously, the bad part is when you’re not doing that well, the press can be hard on you. You can be hard on yourself because you don’t have as much confidence when you go out there playing in a match.
But I think everybody goes through that stage in their career. You’ve just got to ride through that wave, really believe that if you keep working hard, and this is what you want to do, things will change.

Q. Is that person still inside of you a little bit, that 1989, sunglasses, limousines?
MONICA SELES: No, I don’t think so (laughter). Not at this stage. I might need that for fun.

Q. A comment you made last month in Paris. You said that perhaps you looked at things a little differently than some of the other players. Could you comment on that?
MONICA SELES: Well, I just — you know, I think the experience that I had in the past 10 years, not too many players had to go through that while they’re at the peak of their career. At the same time you’re going from tournament to tournament where you have a lot of things happening in your life, in your family. And it’s been tough.
I’ve been very happy this past year, it’s been a lot easier. I’ve been able to focus on my tennis. At the same time, it’s given me perspective what is important.
But, you know, to be the best tennis player, any athlete in the world to a certain degree, you have to be very selfish and very one-minded and very focused on that. But at the same time you have to be a human being, too – if there’s stuff in your family or different things.
That’s a tough balance. And I’ve struggled with that. I had to deal with it early on in my life. But I did the best that I could, you know. Maybe some things that would change, but I don’t have that option. Just hopefully I’ll have a few years where things won’t be so dramatic in my life.

Q. In terms of values, what are the most important values to you?
MONICA SELES: I think your family and health, for sure, by far. You know, that comes number one. Your family is just priority, before titles and everything else comes into effect.

Q. No one could finish matches like you in the early ’90s. When you think of the height of your career at that point, how would you match up against Venus and Serena?
MONICA SELES: It’s so hard to say. I haven’t looked at a match of mine back, so it would be hard for me to compare. I don’t really know how I played then.

Q. Do you ever think about the Grand Slam titles, the fact that you would have how many more?
MONICA SELES: Yeah, I mean, definitely, different standing in the history books. But, as I said, that wasn’t my choice, what happened to me. I was just happy that I decided to come back. Physically, I was able to play. Emotionally, I still wanted to play. The love that I had for the game, no one could take that away from me.

Q. When you see Pete and Andre losing, even though it’s the men’s tour, they’ve been around as long as you. Do you look, “Hey, I’m getting old, they’re getting old”? Do you ever think of things like that, that their careers may signal the end of your career?
MONICA SELES: You know, we’re all coming towards the latter stages of our careers. Someone like Andre is four years older. He just started to do well again when he was 28 or 29. But everybody’s different, I think, you know, how much wear and tear you have on your body. I think mentally, how much you want to put into it. And I think everybody has to make that decision on their own really.

Q. What’s the best-case scenario for you?
MONICA SELES: Really just to look forward to my next match. I think I’ve been playing for Wimbledon many years, and that’s the lesson I learned, just to focus on your next match. I have a player who really likes to play on this surface. I have a good record against her. But again I think grass is Tami’s best surface. Just look forward to playing her Monday.

Q. Can you talk about your evolution on grass? Do you go out there now with the thought, “I can actually play well on this surface, even though it’s not my favorite”?
MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I believe that most days. There are some days where I just a little bit doubt myself, and that’s when the problems come in. I’ve been trying to stay very positive out there. I think staying in Europe, playing on grass, has helped me, and the weather being good, the ball is definitely bouncing higher, has all gone in my favor.

Q. Why wouldn’t it suit your game? You have a pretty quick game. Is it movement more than anything?
MONICA SELES: I think it’s movement and just the one- or two-ball system. I prefer to have a little bit longer rallies. Here you kind of have to go for it, then you make a lot of errors. A lot of times I make a lot of errors. I start taking pace off from my ball, and that’s when I get into trouble.

Q. Can you just talk about your confidence in the early ’90s to when you came back.
MONICA SELES: Yeah, my confidence. I really have no idea. Obviously, I did pretty good if I only lost a match a year. I would be purely guessing here if I would tell you what it was. I really don’t remember.

Q. Do you think you still have a major in you? Pete was saying earlier that’s why he’s thinking of staying in the game.
MONICA SELES: I think at this stage that’s the one thing that really drives you very hard, that you want to win any Grand Slam. And that’s one of the reasons that I’m playing. So I would I guess say yeah.