Corina Morariu Transcript
Corina Morariu Transcript
July 23, 2002
HARVEY BOLGLA: Hi, everybody. We're looking forward to seeing you this coming week in San Diego.
Rob Leslie's with us and, of course, Corina Morariu, who is returning to the Sanex WTA Tour next week, as most of you know, at the Acura Classic through a wildcard in doubles. She's playing with Kimberly Po.
We also have Raquel Giscafre from the tournament on the line if anybody wants to ask her a question about giving the wildcard to Corina.
We were talking earlier today ‑ I don't know if any of you know ‑ but Corina has been to the Acura Classic once; it was in 1999. She won the doubles competition with Lindsay Davenport. They beat Venus and Serena 6‑4, 6‑1, so she has a perfect record at LaCosta.
That's what I wanted to say. We can now turn it over to questions for Corina.
Q. Good morning, Corina. Why don't you begin by telling us how you first became aware you were ill.
CORINA MORARIU: I was diagnosed May 17th of last year. In the week leading up to that, I started having just some very frequent nosebleeds and some spontaneous bruising, and that sort of prompted me to go see a doctor.
My health deteriorated pretty quickly, in a couple days. By the 17th I was really, really quite ill and in a pretty critical state.
So as soon as they diagnosed me, I was admitted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and started my treatment from there.
Q. My understanding is that your father is a distinguished physician. Did you first see him?
CORINA MORARIU: Yeah. I mean, I told him, obviously, what my symptoms were. He took the appropriate actions and sent me to a hematologist. Then we needed to do some further testing from there. I mean, it all happened within the space of two days.
Q. How difficult was it to accept that when it's happening so quickly?
CORINA MORARIU: You know, to be honest, I didn't really have ‑‑ I mean, I had time to think about it, but it did happen so quickly. I went from probably on May 15th being fine to do things that I would normally do, to the 17th, not being able to get out of bed.
By the time I found out what exactly the diagnosis was, it was almost a relief in a sense just because at least I knew what I was fighting and I knew that I was going to get treatment ‑ and the best possible treatment ‑ and I knew what my prognosis was and what my chances were.
Those couple days of uncertainty were just ‑‑ were very difficult. So in a sense, I was happy to get the diagnosis and just at least know what was going on with my body and what was happening.
Q. What did they tell you your prognosis was?
CORINA MORARIU: It's a form of acute myeloid leukemia called acute promyelocytic leukemia. It has one of the better prognosises for that main category. I think it's like a 60 to 70% chance survival rate, but that obviously includes the elderly and people that, you know, can't handle the treatment as well.
So they told me because I'm young and strong physically and should be able to tolerate the chemo, that, you know, my chances were pretty good.
Q. How does the chemo affect you?
CORINA MORARIU: It's a miserable experience, basically. My hair fell out ‑ that was the least of my problems. Just, you know, I had some complications, some respiratory difficulty. I mean, I got an infection with every course of chemo and had to be admitted to the hospital every time because of the infection.
So there were just a series of complications and side effects for, you know, seven, eight months that I had to endure.
Q. What sustained you through this period? Faith, what?
CORINA MORARIU: Sorry?
Q. I said did faith have any role in it?
CORINA MORARIU: Faith, oh, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I have a strong faith in God and an amazing family and amazing friends. The support system that I had was just unlike anything I could ever have imagined or dreamed of. So I felt very lucky in that sense. There were many times I was in the hospital and I felt very fortunate to be able to have my family there with me. My husband and my brother spent every day with me in the hospital for the first month.
I just tried to look at the positives of the situation and tried to, you know, keep a good attitude and just fight through it.
Q. Do you feel your fight is finished?
CORINA MORARIU: In a way, yes. And then in a way, you know, some fights are just starting. Starting to play again, it's another hurdle for me to try to overcome, but, you know, it's much better than the fight I was in last year. So I'm excited to start playing again. Obviously, you know, it's a huge challenge for me, and I'm really looking forward to it.
Q. Where do you suppose your game is vis‑a‑vis where it was when you had to leave the tour?
CORINA MORARIU: That's so difficult for me to say without having played competitively for so long. I mean, I'm playing World Team Tennis now for three weeks. It's a great transition for me, you know, before I start playing back on the tour.
But time's going to tell, and see how things go in the next few weeks.
Physically, I'm feeling pretty good. It's just a matter of getting the matches in. That's the difficult part when you haven't played for so long ‑ just being back in that competitive atmosphere and playing a lot of matches. I think I'll be able to get a better gauge after I play a little bit more.
Q. Are you going to try to confine your tennis to doubles?
CORINA MORARIU: No. I'm going to start playing singles this summer as well, so I'm going to be playing both. I'm just starting with doubles because I just thought it would be a good way to start ‑ just play, you know, a week of doubles just to ease myself into it instead of just starting right off the bat playing singles, doubles.
Little injuries can creep up and things like that when you start playing again competitively, so
I just kind of wanted to try to ease into it a little bit and give my body a little time to adjust.
Q. Were there many times in recent months when you despaired of reaching the point you have come to now?
CORINA MORARIU: Absolutely. There were definitely times last year when I was sick and not feeling well at all that, you know, there were days where I just thought I was never going to feel good again; I was never going to be able to even walk for ten minutes let alone play tennis again. But those days were pretty far and few between. I mean, that's understandable. I had those days.
But for the most part, I tried to keep a positive attitude, like I said, and make the best of the situation and look forward and just try to just keep fighting and take it from there.
Q. Is it disappointing to you that Davenport has decided she doesn't want to play doubles?
CORINA MORARIU: No, not at all. I can totally understand that. Obviously, I love playing with her and we had a great time and we did well together, but I can totally understand. With the injury that she's had, and being a top player you play a lot of matches anyway, doubles just makes you stay at the courts longer, and it's even more matches for a top player. So I completely understand her decision and why she would say that. I respect that.
Q. I understand from my limited knowledge that World Team Tennis is probably harder on your body in terms of the travel than regular tennis. True or false?
CORINA MORARIU: It is. It's hard on your body. It's a little hard on your body just, you know, from the traveling, not so much from a tennis standpoint. But from the traveling, it's a little bit difficult mentally. You travel during the day and have to play at night and do the same thing for three weeks straight. I have a couple little injuries that are bothering me, which is probably to be expected.
This is just a good place, I felt, for me to start because I get to play a lot. I play two sets, no ad, first to five every night. So it's really not that much tennis, but it's good for me to play the girls and get some good matches and get some good tennis in in a pressure environment and with some tension in the match, like you do obviously in tournaments.
Q. I think that's fantastic. I'm really thrilled for you.
CORINA MORARIU: Thanks.
Q. I'm wondering, you said that you went to Jackson for your treatment. Was all of your treatment in Miami? Did you spend all of your time during treatment here, or did you go somewhere else?
CORINA MORARIU: Yeah, no. All my treatment was at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Dr. Mark Goodman was my doctor down there, and he's out of Sylvester Cancer Center. I got my treatment there, and whenever I had to be admitted to the hospital, it was always at Jackson.
Q. Do you live down here? Is your family here?
CORINA MORARIU: I live in Boca.
Q. Can you talk about when you first came back on the court. When was it? Were you nervous? How much did you lose, as far as strength, as far as technique? What did you lose, taking that many months off?
CORINA MORARIU: When I first came back to start practicing, or when I first started to play?
CORINA MORARIU: Yeah. It was extremely difficult. I think some people, you know ‑‑ sometimes people say, 'Well, because you're an athlete, it must have been easier for you because you were strong physically.' That might be true; I can't say because I haven't been in any other position.
But it was also extremely difficult because I was an athlete and, like you said, I was used to being able to do certain things with my body that I couldn't do. When I stepped back on the court, it was bittersweet in a sens just because it was nice for me to be able to be out there and to be out of the hospital, and I had that perspective. But it was also extraordinarily frustrating to know the things that I could do before and to know that now, you know, I hold a racquet for ten minutes and I'm just completely exhausted. It felt like I had played a four‑hour match in relation to how I was before, and that was hitting for ten minutes.
So, you know, the reality sort of hits you like a ton of bricks at that stage. You just have to work through it, and it was frustrating at times. I thought some days, 'This is difficult to go through.' But like I said, those days were pretty few and far between. For the most part, you know, I've been able to enjoy the process of trying to get back into it.
Q. Do you feel like you have a renewed appreciation for the game? A lot of times when you do something for a long time, you take it for granted. To have it taken away, can you just talk about your approach to the game now.
CORINA MORARIU: Yeah, I mean, I don't think you can come out of a situation like I was in, a life‑threatening situation and fighting a battle for your life, without a different perspective.
I came back to playing tennis, and I have the luxury of being able to reflect on where I was a year ago, which was in the hospital, you know, feeling terribly sick and not being able to leave the room. So that keeps things in perspective.
If I ever get upset about something or get nervous to go play, I can go back to that place where I was last year and reflect on that, and that makes everything else pale in comparison.
Q. I've seen some quotes from you through your website on your appreciation of the outpouring of support you've gotten from other players, specifically Capriati and Davenport at Wimbledon last year. Have you had opportunities to reflect on that? It's been about a year. Has it continued even recently?
CORINA MORARIU: Yeah. I mean, the response I've gotten from the players has just been incredible and beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
I haven't seen a lot of the girls in a long time. I'll see a lot of them next week. But so far, their support has been amazing.
I was completely shocked last year, you know. Obviously, I think I'm still shocked just by the support I got and how everyone just, you know, came out to support me and to be by my side if they could or to do whatever they could to know that they were thinking of me. That's a feeling that I really couldn't even begin to describe. When you're laying in a hospital bed fighting for your life and you know that there are people that want to see you again and that are thinking of you and they want you to hang around, that gives you a tremendous amount of strength.
Q. Will this be your first chance in person to see people like Lindsay and Jennifer?
CORINA MORARIU: I saw them ‑‑ I went up to the US Open. The USTA flew me up there for a couple days. I could only stay two days because I had to come home for treatment.
But I saw them and obviously thanked them profusely. I saw Jennifer at the NASDAQ. I haven't seen Lindsay since the Open, but we stay in touch obviously.
I'm really looking forward to seeing everybody. Everyone just, like I said, has been so supportive that I'm excited to be back, to get back out there.
Q. Did you have to lobby at all to get into this tournament, or did they just pick you and want you to be in it?
CORINA MORARIU: I had expressed an interest in playing, and this is just the way my schedule worked that I wanted to play doubles.
Raquel was nice enough to give me and Kim the wildcard, so that takes a little bit of the pressure off me. It just works out perfectly with my schedule to be able to play, play at LaCosta and the Acura Classic.
Q. In terms of the fight against the disease itself, was there maybe one certain moment or time period where you kind of knew you had it beat, or was it a gradual struggle that eventually you won?
CORINA MORARIU: It's a gradual struggle. It's still a little bit of a struggle. I don't think about it every day, but I have to get checked once a month and I have to take oral chemotherapy once every day. So there's still a possibility that it can come back, and that's always a thought that crosses your mind.
But I can't say that there was ever ‑‑ you know, I don't know if there was one specific moment. It was just a really long, arduous battle.
Starting maybe at the beginning of this year when I would wake up and feel good actually ‑ because your good becomes so relative when you're that sick. A good day a year ago would be like the worst day I could imagine now.
At the beginning of this year when I was able to start running and start working out and wake up in the morning feeling like I had energy and feeling like I wanted to go out and do things, that was an amazing feeling.
Q. What's next for you after this tournament? Are you thinking about getting back to a regular routine of traveling around with the WTA?
CORINA MORARIU: Yeah, I'm going to play summer tournaments. I'm going to play, obviously, the Acura Classic next week and then probably play, you know, a couple other tournaments over the summer and then ultimately play the US Open at the end of the summer.
Q. You are going to try to play the US Open?
CORINA MORARIU: Yeah ‑ singles and doubles, so...
Q. What do you think that will be like for you, if you're able to get there?
CORINA MORARIU: For the Open?
CORINA MORARIU: Wow, I can't even predict what it's going to be like.
Like I said before, I went there last year. As nice as it was for me to be able to go and to see everybody, it was also a very difficult time because I had to leave two days into it to go back for treatment, and I had to see everybody be so healthy and tan and going out there to play. So that was difficult for me.
So to be able to go back there and be playing and think last year at that time I probably didn't think that I was ever going to get back there, I was ever going to be able to play again. So I can't really say, but I'm sure it's going to be an unbelievable feeling.
Q. Who's out there now with you for this tournament, or who will be out there?
CORINA MORARIU: My coach is going to be out there with me, and that's it.
Q. What expectations do you have for next week and the remainder of the season?
CORINA MORARIU: It's difficult to say. I don't really ‑‑ I'm not going into it with these huge expectations thinking I'm going to win everything.
I honestly don't know. I haven't played for so long, and it's going to be difficult ‑‑ it's difficult for me to judge physically how my body is going to hold up just as far as little injuries go and not having played for such a long time.
I've been working hard and I'm going to continue to work hard. Hopefully, the results are going to come from there. But I think I have to be patient and know that it might take some time for me to get back into it and to play a lot of matches and to start competing again and learning how to win again and learning, you know, all these things ‑ or just refreshing them in a sense.
So I can't really answer that. I'm just really looking forward to it, and I'm going to try to enjoy myself as much as I can and take it from there.
Q. What players visited you when you were sick? Any worth mentioning?
CORINA MORARIU: Lindsay Davenport came to see me.
Q. That was in Miami or Boca?
CORINA MORARIU: In Miami. They all came to the hospital. Kimberly Po, who I'm playing doubles with, came to see me. Mary Joe Fernandez was there as well.
Q. It says on this release that you watched a lot of tennis when you were sick. Did you learn anything from that? Do you think you'll be a smarter player?
CORINA MORARIU: No (laughing). I've always been around tennis. I watched a lot of it because, you know, I was in the hospital and I had nothing else to do and the tennis was always on.
But I've been around it my whole life. I used to be able to watch it live as opposed to on TV. So, you know, I don't think that's going to have much of an effect on me as a player.
Q. What else did you do during all those months? I mean, you're used to being so active. How did you keep yourself occupied when you were in the hospital those months? Can you talk about a typical day.
CORINA MORARIU: A typical day was ‑‑ I really ‑‑ I mean, I did nothing. I'd lay in bed and watch TV and have visitors and friends come in from, you know, the first month I was in the hospital. It was just constantly getting blood products and chemotherapy and drugs and pain medication and all sorts of things. So I really didn't have energy in the month that I was hospitalized. I got to go outside for five minutes one day probably in the middle of my stay. The rest of the time I just spent there, sleeping a lot.
I was fortunate enough to have a lot of visitors and my family with me all the time. I didn't spend any time by myself that first month that I was in the hospital. So I actually got to spend a lot of quality time with my family and watched a lot of TV and a lot of movies (laughing).
Q. Did you watch the kind of shows you wouldn't normally watch?
CORINA MORARIU: No. I had my soap operas that killed an hour and a half of my day, which was good (laughing). The French Open was on for two weeks, so we'd always have that on. Like I said, we rented a lot of movies and watched those. Nothing exciting by any stretch of the imagination.
Q. While you were in the hospital or afterward, have you met with other leukemia patients, or have you gotten involved in that cause?
CORINA MORARIU: Yeah, I signed on as the international sports ambassador for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in April. That's a huge passion of mine. I feel like I owe my life to the people before me that have raised money and raised awareness for the disease. The prognosis for my kind of leukemia, like I said, was pretty good. If I can get the prognosis for all kinds of leukemia to be as good and eventually find a cure or have a small part in that at least, that's something that means a lot to me. Tennis serves as a really good stage for me to be able to do that.
ROB LESLIE: I just want to ask one question, if that's okay. As I'm sure you saw, Lance Armstrong is once again leading the Tour de France. You had the opportunity to work a little bit with him and his foundation. Can you talk a little bit about that experience.
CORINA MORARIU: Yeah, in April he invited me out to speak on a panel with him entitled 'Athletes Winning the War on Cancer.' He's just such an inspiration to everybody. To see what he went through and how he's come back and accomplished what he has, you know, it was amazing to see all the work that he's been doing for cancer and for patients and for people living with the disease and fighting the disease. That's something even more impressive to me ‑ the way he's given back and what he does for that cause.
So it was amazing for me to be able to meet with him and talk to him about some things. I read his book while I was sick, and that was interesting for me just from another athlete's perspective because some of the things that you go through are a little different than your average person. So he is; he's an inspiration.
For me, when I was sick, it always helped me a lot to see other people that had gone through the same thing and had come out and done things that they used to do. So to see him be able to do that was a huge boost for me while I was sick.
HARVEY BOLGLA: Raquel, would you like to comment on giving the wildcard from the tournament's standpoint.
RAQUEL GISCAFRE: I just want to say hello to Corina.
CORINA MORARIU: Hi, Raquel. Thank you.
RAQUEL GISCAFRE: I want to tell her that we're honored to have her making her comeback in San Diego. We look forward to seeing you, Corina, next week, and giving you a big, big hug.
CORINA MORARIU: Thank you, Raquel. I can't wait to see you, too.
ROB LESLIE: Would you discuss the factors that led to the wildcard that you provided to Kim and Corina.
RAQUEL GISCAFRE: Corina's agent called us and said that Corina was ready to start playing on the tour and would like to play at the Acura Classic, would we give her a wildcard. We thought maybe for three seconds, and said, 'Of course, we are honored to give Corina a wildcard and Kim Po.
CORINA MORARIU: Thank you, Raquel.
RAQUEL GISCAFRE: Look forward to seeing you, Corina.
CORINA MORARIU: Me too.
Q. I had a question for Raquel. I wondered if Raquel could project when Corina is likely to play her first match.
HARVEY BOLGLA: Let me speak for Raquel since she's not queued up. I think there's speculation that perhaps she would play on Tuesday, but there's really no way of knowing until the doubles draw on Sunday.
If that's different, Raquel, chime in. But I think that that's a scenario that could happen depending on how the draw goes.
Q. Who is your new coach?
CORINA MORARIU: His name is Philip Farmer.
Q. I just wanted to wish you very, very good luck.
CORINA MORARIU: Thank you.
Q. You said before that your hair fell out, and that seems really trivial, obviously, in the grand scheme of life. When that happened, can you just talk about what that was like? That's always a thing that people think of when they think of chemotherapy.
CORINA MORARIU: Yeah, it started falling out like a couple weeks into my hospital stay, so we decided to get out the clippers and just shave it since it was just falling out in clumps and really kind of getting in my way and my bed and the shower and everything.
So my brother actually shaved it and he had a good time doing so (laughing). He left a little spiky thing at the front thinking that that was pretty funny. So we took pictures and just, you know, we made the most of the situation.
Yeah, you know, a lot of people have a difficult time with that, which is completely understandable. I really didn't care by that stage. If living meant losing my hair, that was a pretty easy decision to make. So, you know, that's kind of how we went about it.
Although I have to say, I'm loving having hair again (laughing). Anybody who tells me that they like my hair, I just want to run up and hug (laughing).
HARVEY BOLGLA: Thank you all.
I don't know if anybody saw Corina on 'Good Morning America' or CNN this morning, but she looks fabulous. Somebody was looking at some footage of her playing and they said, 'You look better now.'
So we're very excited to have her come out to San Diego and all of her next tournaments.
Thank you all.
CORINA MORARIU: Thank you.