2003 Italian Open – 1st Rnd Interview

May 13, 2003

Seles d. Casanova 4-6, 6-2, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Monica, please.

Q. How does it feel? Do you need some match play?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely. I haven’t played really since February besides two matches, so that was my main goal. I really wanted to come here and play some on red clay. That was definitely evident today. I’m happy I got through, so at least I know I’m going to play one more match.

Q. Has your injury healed?

MONICA SELES: Not yet, no. It’s a come-and-go. I had to pull out of doubles because I was feeling pain again in the start of the second set. But I really want to play next few weeks, so I’ll try to do everything possible.

Q. Do you have treatment after the match?

MONICA SELES: Yeah, definitely every day, and then I have a therapist traveling with me now, so…

Q. Can you comment on your match.

MONICA SELES: It was a hard-hitting match. I’ve never played Myriam. I know her pretty well. She just came out and was hitting the ball very hard, and took me a while to adjust to that. I think she just made more mistakes, and I stopped making many mistakes and that was the decision in the match.

Q. What about your next match?

MONICA SELES: I, again, never played Nadia. She is a very talented player. I think she was very unlucky, she started playing well last year and she sprained her ankle. She is coming back from that. It’s going to be another tough match, I know that.

Q. Who were the roses from?

MONICA SELES: They’re from my fans. I’ve really got some amazing fans here. I’ve got so many teddy bears in my hotel, then the flowers today are just gorgeous. They’ve been with me, I think, for about since really 1990. So that’s loyal (smiling).

Q. What is the main difference that you feel now, playing so many years, and the first time you came to the tournament?

MONICA SELES: Mentally or physically, big difference (laughing).

Q. Both, both.

MONICA SELES: Both. Mentally, it’s the same. I mean, I still really much enjoy it. Obviously, I know Rome much better, I have a lot of friends. So it’s more like, you know, more of a comfortable feeling than one of the first few times in my career. Physically, it’s definitely a lot tougher now just in terms of matches are a lot harder, my body doesn’t recover as well as when I was 16. Definitely, battling this foot injury has for sure been a very difficult time for me this year with it.

Q. Is there something that you still want from tennis? You have achieved so much.

MONICA SELES: Oh, I think each time I wouldn’t be playing if I wouldn’t want to be winning. But the main thing is that I really enjoy playing tennis. As long as I can play it at a level that I’m happy with, and, most importantly, my body lets me play it – which is the big question, because it’s not enough to play, you’ve got to train – you know, I’m happy. But the same time, I know if this or whatever is my last tournament, I’m very happy also because I know I had a wonderful career and really some great memories. Hopefully, I can still continue playing tennis at least at a different level just for a form of exercise, because it’s something that I don’t think I can just say, “Well, I’ll stop tomorrow and never pick up a racquet.” It’s been way too big a part of my life.

Q. Do you think that you can reach the Top 10 in Grand Slam events? Which kind of tournaments?

MONICA SELES: Top 10, how do you mean Top 10?

Q. Being among the Top 10.

MONICA SELES: Yeah, Top 10, definitely. I’ve been for the past however many years. Obviously, this year I fell out because I only played I think 12 tournaments. So that’s really not my goal. My goal would be to win a Grand Slam. I think that’s what would keep me probably going.

Q. I’m sorry. He said do you think you can win your 10th title?

MONICA SELES: Grand Slam, okay, got it, got it. I definitely think the best chance is at the French Open and then the Australian Open. My best results have come there, so that’s where I would give highest percentage.

Q. Should you meet Serena, what about this match?

MONICA SELES: Well, right now I have quite a few matches ahead, so I think I’m just going to worry about Nadia tomorrow and hope my foot is well enough to play. Serena is just an unbelievable champion – I mean, the way she has played the past 12 months just really, I mean, what can you say there? That’s way down the road (smiling).

Q. You said that you love tennis. Is it playing tennis or the world of tennis?

MONICA SELES: Oh, no, it’s definitely playing tennis. I mean, the traveling and everything else with it, it’s part of it because you can’t have one without the other. For me, it’s just joy of playing tennis. That’s why as a little girl I always thought I picked up playing tennis. It’s really the only thing that has really stayed very continuous in my life, the love for the game.

Q. Who was the hardest opponent you had in your career?

MONICA SELES: It’s really hard to pick one because all the past No. 1s are hard, going from Navratilova to Evert to Graf to the Williams sisters and to Hingis. I mean, all those names are in equal category.

Q. When people ask you questions, they talk to you like you’re a senior tennis player. Does it bother you?

MONICA SELES: Oh, not at all. I mean, it is correct. I’m definitely one of the older ones. Thank God for Martina (laughing). She’s extra senior. But definitely, I’ve been on the tour the longest. I think besides Amanda, I think Conchita, most are… But, you know, I’m still 29 and I know I’m definitely in a very late stage of my career. That’s why I’m trying to give it a last push. That’s really it.