THE MODERATOR: Questions for your 2003 US Open Champion, please.
Q. What are your emotions, Christine?
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: Christine (laughter).
No, it's such a great moment. I mean, I always thought that the first win in a Grand Slam would be the most, yeah, important one. But today, it's a great feeling because it's very different victory from the French Open.
What I did last night was great, simply great. I'm so happy right now. It's just amazing, you know, two Grand Slams in the first year for myself. I couldn't believe I could do it this year, but I feel much more stronger than I've been in the past.
It gives me a lot of confidence, so it's great.
Q. How did you feel when you got up this morning? Can you take us through the day.
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: Yeah, I mean, you know, last night I went ‑‑ I think I went to sleep at 3:45. And then I was awake at 8:30 then tried to sleep a little bit more until 11:30, but it was very hard because the match was still in my mind. On the other side, I knew I had a final tonight and I didn't know how I was going to do to be fine.
But I think that the trainers and the doctors did a great job last night. You know, the staff around me, Carlos, Yves, "It's unbelievable what you did, but you still have to believe in your chances because you're playing so well right now."
I did believe in my chances. I went on the court to win the match, and it worked pretty good.
Q. In Paris, you really played superb tennis.
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: Yep.
Q. It was a very special place, the victory. It was even a story behind, you dedicated the victory to your mother.
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: Uh‑hmm.
Q. To who would you like to dedicate this victory to, and if there is spiritual background?
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: In Paris it was something very special, yeah. Everybody knows the story. Here, it's very different because I never really played well at the US Open. And I came this year, didn't know what to expect. Just I knew that I was different player from last year, from the years before.
I played so well, you know, in San Diego and Toronto. I knew I could do a good tournament. I just want to dedicate this victory to, I mean, to the people are behind me, who believe in myself for a long time right now.
First to my coach and my husband. I think they give me an unbelievable support. You can't imagine how they are important for myself.
My husband was supposed to leave on Tuesday, decided to stay. I think he did a good choice (laughter).
Q. The mental side of your game so much, plus your ability to close out matches, what is your strategy now when times get tough and how to close?
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: It's hard to explain. I mean, it's just the experience, the hard work I did, the confidence I get. I mean, it's ‑‑ it's very difficult to understand how I change in a few months.
I mean, these kind of matches, I couldn't finish that one year ago. So, you know, like I said, I just try to build my career. Maybe I arrived a little bit later from the other players, but, you know, winning two Grand Slam at 21, I think it's great. And it give me a lot of confidence for the rest of my career.
I'm still very young. I want to play for a long time.
But, you know, today I knew that I wasn't going to let this match go. I mean, I had to win because I had the match under control, and there was so much important for myself to play well in the important points. That's what I did.
Q. Last night, you were listed with the doctor's report this morning as "possible" for playing. This afternoon it was "probable." Was there a moment you thought you might not be able to play?
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: You know, last night when I got off the court, I mean, I didn't know what to expect because I was feeling so bad. Like I said, the doctors and trainers, they did a great job. They took care of myself unbelievable.
Then, you know, I just wanted to wait the practice to be sure I could play. The doctor said to me I was healthy to play. There wasn't any more problem on my body. It was just that I was feeling tired, a lot of fatigue.
And I didn't know if I was gonna be able to compete and to fight 100 percent. It's hard when you have to play a Grand Slam final when you have only 20 hours to recover.
So this morning when I woke up, probably I knew I was going to play, but I needed a little bit of more time to see how I was feeling.
Q. Is this more special because of whom you beat? Does that carry extra significance?
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: You know, it's ‑‑ we'll have to play a lot each other, I mean, in the future. Kim is a great player. She's No. 1 in the world. She's playing great tennis.
But I think that what I did last night was unbelievable. It was ‑‑ we played a high level of tennis. I came back from 5‑3 in the second, 5‑3 in the third. I always believed in my chances. It wasn't easy because I had a little bit the crowd against me. It was normal. Then I cramped.
So it's been two terrific weeks. I mean, unbelievable. Like I probably didn't play the best tennis I can play, but my attitude was so good and it gave me the chances to win this tournament.
Q. Don't you feel, after the last three months, that you could go to sleep tonight and say, "I'm the No. 1 player now. I won two Grand Slams"? You've only lost one match since Roland Garros.
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: I'll believe in that when I will see that I will be No. 1. But it's true that in the last few months, I've been very consistent. I played unbelievable tennis. I finished the match I had to finish. I won the last three tournaments.
It's true that I'm feeling very strong right now. I think the other players can feel it, too. I'll be No. 2. That's the only thing we can see on the paper.
Q. Last night you said the reason you didn't call for a trainer is because people had spoken badly about you for doing it in the past. Were you talking about Kim? Can you talk about that decision again?
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: Yeah, I did a big mistake last night not calling the trainer because I needed the trainer. Like in the past, every time I called the trainer, and I didn't do it in every match, was because I was needing the trainer. Everybody knows it.
So last night, yeah, I did a big mistake because, you know, I was cramping a lot. I could have a serious injury. Everybody was so upset with myself that I didn't call the trainer.
But it's true that I said to myself, "People are gonna talk a lot about my attitude again," and I'm a fair player. I mean, I never misrespect to anybody on the tour. I know that now when I need the trainer, I'll call them.
Q. I remember when golfer Lee Janzen won his second US Open. He said the second one meant so much more because it validated the first one. Do you feel that way about this?
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: Yeah, I mean, it's unbelievable. Maybe it means the French Open wasn't an accident.
No, I mean, yeah, it's true. It's great confirmation. I mean, two months after the French Open, I had great reaction because you never know how for the first time you win a Grand Slam. You don't know how you gonna feel. You don't know if your motivation is gonna be all right after a big win.
So I played terrific after the French Open. It's been two unbelievable months. I think it's not over.
Right now, you know, it's almost the end of the season. My next goal is gonna be ready for the next year and physically still ‑‑ I still can improve my game, you know. I will work very hard. It gives me a lot of confidence, a lot of motivation for the next work in December.
Q. Sixth game of the first set, you had gone up 3‑love. She broke back. How huge was that game? Were your legs giving out at all at that point?
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: My legs were feeling heavy for sure. But, you know, I just mentally was very important to myself to forget it and say, "Okay, let's play. Let's do your best."
Kim wasn't playing very well in the first three games of the match. I was very consistent, but she did a lot of unforced errors. Then she started to play much better. I wasn't ready for it. I needed a few games to come in the match to be very aggressive.
Since 5‑all I think that the match turned.
Q. For many of us, the beauty of your game is the repertoire of shots that you have. For you to end this match with a swinging volley from the court is, you know, like sort of the great topper of the match. What else can you add to your game now for the rest of this year and 2004?
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: I think I proved I have to play like this. I mean, I have many things in my game to win other Grand Slams. I know that I can improve my game, go a little bit more to the net, be a little bit more aggressive, work again on my concentration ‑ because sometimes I can lose it, you know, in important games.
You know, in the future it's gonna be very important but I am still very young.
I know that I am in a good way. I know that the way I work is very important. I work every day so hard. I still have to keep like that if I want to win other major tournaments.
Q. Last night in that incredible match, Jennifer, again and again, was within a couple of points of winning. At those moments of crisis, what goes through your mind? What do you tell yourself?
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: You know, in the first set I think it was a very high level of tennis. I was leading 4‑1, but Jennifer was playing very well. I was playing unbelievable.
And then, yeah, the crowd gave her a lot of support. It wasn't easy for myself in the first set, but I stayed very calm. I said, "Okay, that's normal. You have to deal with that." And then just tried to stay focused on every point.
Then she was leading me at 5‑3 in the second. That was the key of the tournament. 30‑all, I come to the net. It's a big save I did at this point. Then a great lob to go 5‑4. My confidence came back.
In the third set again, you know, I was cramping. I wasn't able to think at all because I thought the match was over many times during the game. I could change it. It was an amazing feeling, yeah, unbelievable.
Q. Because of what you went through last night, did you ever have any negative thoughts today? Did they creep into you at all?
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: No, I think that, you know, physically I was feeling okay today. But I didn't know, like I said, if I was ‑‑ if I was going to be able, you know, to forget this match of last night and be focused on the final.
And I was feeling very tired, but when you have to play a Grand Slam final, I mean, you cannot be tired; you have to give your best.
And I wasn't negative at all today because I said, "Okay, it's been an unbelievable, what I did last night."
I think everybody was so happy. A lot of people came to me and said it was one of the best matches they've ever seen in the last maybe 10 years. It was such a great moment.
Q. What are you going to do to celebrate?
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: Celebrate. Everybody knows me. I will never celebrate like maybe other people. But I want to be with my staff, you know, with my husband, with my coach. I think about my family who is at home right now. They watched the match on TV. I'm sure they're very proud of me, too.
I'll be happy to go back in Belgium. I miss my country a little bit. It's been six weeks here in the States. I really enjoyed it, but I'm gonna have a new apartment when I get back to Belgium. So it's great news, too.
Yeah, I don't know how I'm gonna celebrate, but I just can tell you that I'm the happiest woman in the world right now.
Q. When you come from a small country, or even with the kind of money players could make today, sometimes you win a Grand Slam, some players seem to be pretty happy, relaxed with what they've done. Can you talk about your appetite and why, if you do want motivation to win more titles, what that's all about, what it means to you?
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: I think I've always had a lot of character. I always have been a big fighter. When I was young, I was like that, too. And, yeah, maybe when you come from a little country, like Kim or like me, you want to prove to the rest of the world that you can do great things from a little country.
I think that Kim and me, we are both great fighters. I hope that ‑‑ I think that we represent the Belgium very well. I want a lot of victories, for sure. When I go on the court, it's to win the match. I know you cannot win all the time and you have to accept that.
Q. After this display, I mean, do you think the Williams sisters have something to worry about now?
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: Really don't think about the Williams sisters right now because, you know, they dominated the tour for so long and they're still very ‑‑ I mean, they're great champions, both of them.
Unfortunately, they injured right now so it's bad for the tour ‑ it's bad for them and for all the players.
But I don't know if they can ‑‑ if they have to worry about that. I hope so (smiling).
And, you know, I think everybody hopes that they gonna come back on the tour very soon, because we want all the players, all the top ones, and we will see.
Q. You are very young. It's very unusual for young tennis players to be married. Marriage is important to you. Why?
JUSTINE HENIN‑HARDENNE: You ask me this question, yeah, a lot of times (laughter).
Yeah, but... Yeah.
I agree. I totally agree that I am a different person and a different player from my marriage. I'm just feeling so confident, you know. It's been ‑‑ I achieved something in my private life, you know, with my husband. It was very important for myself to get married. A lot of things changed in my life.
So he's with me almost all the time. I think it's easier, like I said he was supposed to leave and then decided to stay. It's great to have a family. It gives me a lot of confidence. I am feeling more secure. I know that after the tennis, I'll have something and that's very important.