Lindsay's US Open Interviews
L. DAVENPORT/E. Dyrberg
MODERATOR: Questions for Lindsay.
Q. In general, how do you feel about the way you're hitting the ball?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I feel actually really, really good. I was really excited for the tournament to start. I felt like last week I made huge strides in pretty much every aspect of my game and felt like I started to do things a lot better, it at least came more naturally.
I'm just ready to go. I mean, I've been waiting to play a Grand Slam all year long. It was, you know, a long wait. I feel like this is definitely the freshest I've been going into a US Open, obviously because I haven't played all year. I just was so excited to get it going today.
Q. Those ones that you couldn't play, did you watch any of those on TV? What was it like?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, I would watch it. The toughest one I've said all along was Australia because I really held out hope until late December that I'd still be able to go there, even though I wasn't really practicing much, my knee really wasn't cooperating. That was a time when I was in the hospital and coming out of it. The first two weeks after any surgery, the first weak especially, is probably the toughest part. That was when I was watching the Australian Open.
But after that I was fine watching them. I knew I wouldn't be able to compete in most likely either of them, so at that point it was okay.
Q. During a low point, was there a point at which it crossed your mind you might not be back here?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: No, no. I mean, for about a half hour after I found out I needed surgery, I think I cried the whole drive home. Then I was ready to go. I mean, that was all it took.
Q. I'm doing a story on these big balls that the kids give to you guys to sign. Do you show any favoritism towards those?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Oh, it's so much easier. I always gravitate towards those when there's a group of kids that want an autograph.
The ball is so small, it's hard to get your grip on it. Those, it's big, it's round, no problem.
Q. Isn't it unfair because the rich kids can buy these; the poor kids have the regular ball.
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I know. I do try to sign them all.
Q. As someone who saw Corina when she was very sick, can you just describe -- how would you describe the fact that she's going to be playing tonight in a featured match? Does it seem like a small miracle to you?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Oh, yeah. I mean, what really surprises me is how great she looks physically. If you look at like her body now, she looks just as strong as before she left. I mean, that must have taken her so long to recover from. I remember being here at The Open last year and she had no muscle, obviously had no hair, was very frail. You see her now, it almost seems like that didn't really happen to her last year. It's really amazing.
Q. Will you watch her match?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I'll watch it. I don't know if I'm going to come back out here. I was here at about 9:00 this morning. I don't think I'll stay here all these hours.
But, no, I definitely plan to watch it. I think it should be fun for her. She obviously has nothing to lose. Hopefully she goes out there and plays really well.
Q. How long do you have to go before you reach your 2000 level, your highest level?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I don't know. I wish I did. But, like I said, I feel like I've gotten better every week. These last few days is actually the best I've practiced since I started coming back.
I don't know. I don't know if that takes, you know, beating a Williams or a very top player to then get me going or if it takes winning some more tournaments. I don't know.
But I'm not there. I definitely have made huge strides getting there.
Q. So your confidence level isn't maybe quite up to where it needs to be for you to beat a Venus or a Serena?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: It's a lot higher than it was two weeks ago (smiling).
You know, I don't know what happens in the next -- I can't play one of them for 10 or 11 days, however the schedule works out.
I felt like I played at least one good set last week, which was a big improvement from zero in San Diego. You know, I'll look to capitalize, try and work on that.
Q. When you visited with Corina when she was sick, did she talk about getting back here and playing again, or were there times she was talking about her desire to want to live at that point?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Didn't really talk about any plans of the future. I mean, that's kind of a weird thing to bring up. When I saw her in the hospital, that was certainly not on my mind or probably on her mind, it was more about getting through each day.
She called me to tell me she was going to start playing again. That wasn't until January or February. I was at home, but I was still on crutches. She said, "Yeah, I'm going to try to come back this summer." That was the first I heard. I never brought it up until she brought it up to me.
Q. Last week you kind of talked about how you were happy to be playing, but you said you had to get past that point. Did a switch flip for you today, "I'm at The Open"?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, it happened after pretty much the first week where I did well and I was like, "Oh, that's a bummer, that's over." I was just happy to be playing, and I did well. There were a lot of expectations that I put back on myself.
But when we got here yesterday, I was really excited. My attitude on the court in practice was one of excitement, happy to be here. It helps so much when you feel like you can practice at a hundred percent and nothing's bothering you. Hopefully that carries over into the matches.
Q. Before Palo Alto, you set your expectations quite low. Things have changed quite a bit. What would be a successful US Open to you?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Well, obviously winning it (laughter). You know, I haven't really thought about what would make me happy. You know, I've seen my little section of the draw, but I haven't looked too far past that. I mean, you know, I know, people have told me.
But I feel like if I keep up a good level of play, I'm a contender. You know, obviously a lot depends on what happens in the draw and who's playing well and who's not. But I'm just going to worry about myself. If I am playing as well as I can, if I play at the level I know I'm capable of, I think I can do very well.
Q. Since you came back, have you had people coming up to you, "We're looking at you to make a challenge to the Williams sisters"?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: A couple people have said that. I just say back to them, "Well, you could have done it when I was gone."
Yeah, I mean, players definitely have said that to me. But, you know, I don't worry about that. I don't look like I'm the one that's supposed to do it. I think there are 126 other players in this draw. The responsibility is shared equally.
Note: The above is a partial transcript.
L. DAVENPORT/P. Mandula
MODERATOR: Questions for Lindsay.
Q. What did you do during the rain delay today?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: You know, I was in my hotel pretty much all day thinking that I probably wouldn't get a chance to finish just because of the schedule and the forecast was pretty ominous. But they called to say that they kind of switched my match with Andre.
Now I'm really relieved that I got through it. At the time I didn't have a lot of time to get ready for it, but I'm happy we were able to fit it in today.
Q. Were you concerned about the dampness, the slipperiness, your knee?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Last night, yeah. I mean, I'm not going to play if it starts raining on me. I didn't hesitate at all last night either time to stop.
It is a very fine line out there. I don't think people realize how fast it does get slippery out there. All it takes is one wrong step, and I wasn't at this point, after all I've been through, going to risk that.
Q. Do you think you'll feel that way the rest of your career?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I'm not worried about it at any other time. I'm worried about it when it's slippery or something like that. Of course, I was there when Mary Joe fell all those years ago against Venus. For me it's just not worth it.
As far as running for balls, I never feel any hesitancy when the court is normal. It's a good sign, I guess.
Q. Had you ever hurt it in slippery conditions?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I've never before. But if I slip now, I probably would.
Q. How much weight did you lose when you were away?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Surprisingly not that much. I mean, it was only -- what I weigh now and what I weighed before is only eight pounds different. I think I built some more muscle, got rid of more body fat than anything else. In terms of scale, it doesn't really seem like that much.
Q. Was that a concerted effort on your part?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah. I tried real hard to try and get stronger and at the same time get fitter, which, like I said, not worry about what the scale said, but try and lose body weight. I was able to do that.
Q. Do you feel demonstrably better?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah. I felt a lot better when I first started working out. When I was able to start hitting balls again in April, I didn't want something else to go wrong. I wanted to try and use the time that I've never really had before to really try and get in good shape.
When I was on crutches for eight weeks, I definitely went on a diet because I knew I would probably gain weight, if anything, when you can't exercise. I tried really hard there. Once I started playing again, I was able to keep it off and build some more muscle back.
Q. Have you felt any difference in your game because of that change at all?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Not in my tennis game. In overall physical health, yeah. I find that I'm not getting as many nagging injuries as I used to get. I'm recovering a lot faster from matches. I haven't had too many really long matches, but I felt really good in third sets, and felt, like I said, no nagging injuries that have really bothered me.
In terms of hitting the ball, it didn't help. But everything else, hopefully it adds a lot to my game.
Q. Obviously you chose not to go to college, but you and your mother have been close to sports development and sports issues over the years. President Bush is having a series of town hall meetings to discuss possible revisions on Title IX. If you could make any comments to the president about that, what would your thoughts be?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Well, I mean, Title IX was a huge step I think all those years ago to try and give obviously women equality in collegiate sports. I think the idea behind it is a great one.
I don't like the sport when it forces other men's sports in colleges to shut down because they don't have the money to keep programs going. I don't think that's what it's for.
You know, you definitely want women to get as many opportunities as they can in college sports. But, you know, I know in tennis, I think men either three and a half or four and a half, I'm not sure on that, the women it's eight or nine. It's a huge discrepancy. Obviously, football, there's much more. They probably could tweak the rule a little bit, but I think overall the idea was to promote women's sports. It's been great. In some areas, maybe it could be changed a little.
Q. Have you had any discussions with the Leach family?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Oh, many. I know all about it. CoachLeach is not a big fan of it. But I've defended the women as best I can. But he's tough (laughter).
Q. In a nutshell, without taking the next half hour, what does he say?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I mean, it's frustrating to him when you run a men's collegiate team. Like I said, he only has three and a half or four and a half to work with. Guys are just dying to go to Stanford. Then like the women there get eight scholarships. They don't even play because only six singles players play. In that regard, he's not a big fan. But I think he's coming around in women's sports. He's becoming a bigger fan.
Q. Jennifer was just asked about Title IX. She hadn't heard of it. Some of us were a little surprised by that. Does that just talk about a tunnel vision some players get into? You've obviously been around the college game.
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I mean, a little bit surprising. But I don't think in her plan ever growing up, ever along her career path, did college ever really enter her focus. I don't know if that's the reason why or if she doesn't quite understand the movement that women's sports took all those years ago. I have no idea.
Q. Have you ever talked to Billie Jean about that?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Yeah, many Fed Cups about that, as well.
Q. What's the most important thing you've gleaned from her?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Billie is the most pro-women's sports believer that could possibly exist, tries to drill into our brains how important it is for women's equal rights, for women to have opportunities to play, how when she was growing up that women's sports didn't exist. It was really wrong for a woman to want to be an athlete or a little girl to want to be an athlete, and how lucky we are, especially in our sport, that we can make a living from it. All these other sports, she's going nuts, you can be a pro-women's basketball player, or soccer player, all these opportunities she didn't have growing up.
I have learned how lucky we are because of her and all the others in the '70s, we can make such a great living off this sport, how hopefully in another few years, my kids, other little girls, will want to be a pro athlete just like little boys.
Q. Do you think there's anything the WTA or players on tour can do to advance that in any way, or do you feel it's a matter of playing your game, do your best?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Well, it's always a never-ending battle to try and grow it. Right now women's tennis is as hot as it can be. I think what can really help is when there's a group of players, more than just one or two, that other little girls can relate to, so you're not forced to choose between Steffi or Monica. Now you have one of the Williamses, Anna, myself, Monica, Jennifer. You can try and follow the path of a lot of different players.
But, I mean, the main thing is to always try and give back. It gets very tiring always playing tournaments. Certainly we don't always put forth our best effort. For the most part, I think the girls are pretty aware of the importance of 20 years from now what's going to happen to women's tennis, maybe not as focused as Billie Jean was in the '70s, but hopefully we'll get back to that kind of feeling, we need to keep growing it for other people, as well.
Q. The WTA gave me this and said that it's a form on Title IX. It says it was handed to all the tennis players a couple weeks ago. Did you see it?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I have not received that yet, no. I'm sorry.
Q. You lost this weight and trained. How could you do that with the knee?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I mean, the first eight weeks I was on crutches. I did a thing called aqua jogging, did it every day for eight weeks. I've said this before, but I was in a machine for eight hours a day. Every hour I spent in the pool, I could minus from the machine. I would some days try to spend two hours in the pool and some... I was always in there at least an hour a day. Some days I would go longer.
Like I said, I was always doing arm weights, always lifting pretty regularly on that. I was trying to, you know, follow somewhat of a diet while I was on crutches just so I wouldn't gain weight more than anything else.
Q. Was it a life-changing diet? Did you change how you eat now?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: It was The Zone Diet. I'm trying to follow the Zone principles in my life now (laughter).
(Note: this is a partial transcript)
L. DAVENPORT/M. Bartoli
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You had a pretty straightforward victory out there. How did you feel?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I felt good. I thought I played a little bit better today than the second-round match. I felt like I was controlling the points a little bit better than the other night. Served a lot better. Think I had a pretty good high percentage of first serves.
That's all I can really ask for. I mean, so far, I've played well enough, you know, I haven't taken any steps backward yet, which is important.
Q. You feel like you built up a lot of momentum moving deeper into the tournament?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I hope so. I mean, that's all you can really ask to do, I mean, is get through the first few rounds, try and play as best you can and get -- stay fresh, keep playing well, keep hitting the ball well.
And, you know, in the Round of 16, I think the matches will definitely start to get tougher and you just have to keep raising the level each round as it gets tougher and tougher.
Q. You probably have never seen her play, have you?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: No.
Q. What did you think?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Well, Robert had watched her the other day and said -- I think she stands inside the baseline to return serve. He said, "That's probably a good thing for you, she's not going to have a lot of time to react." She has two hands off both sides.
I thought she hit the ball well, especially the first few games we had a lot of good rallies. My philosophy is if you play a bigger server, you want a little bit more time.
But that was fine with me today (laughing).
Q. What are your feelings now? It's not really the second week, but going into Sunday, fourth round?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: Great. I mean, happy to be in the Round of 16. You know, no -- nothing major is really happened yet in my matches. They've been fairly routine, you know. A couple close sets here and there, but for the most part, I've played well and done exactly what I needed to do. I mean, just been straightforward.
And, you know, how -- but just like I said, the tougher matches will probably start to happen now.
Q. Do you sense gradual improvement day-to-day?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: You know, I have. I thought I played better the first match than the second match, but better today than the last two.
So, it goes up and down. You know, tough conditions the other night with it raining and being here so late, having to finish yesterday, coming back again today.
But, yeah, so far it's been great. You know, like I said, it hasn't been too exciting yet, but happy to be getting through in straight sets and doing what I need to do out there.
Q. Have you charted your progress in your game since Fed Cup till now?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: I haven't yet, but I felt like I'm definitely improving playing points and competing now more than I was the first few weeks in California, then Fed Cup. Fed Cup and Team Tennis was probably the worst points of coming back. The first few matches that you play, I think you definitely struggle a lot. Just doubt yourself quite a bit.
And everything like that is out of my mind now. And I feel like I've been playing a long time again. So all those doubts and all the kind of mis-steps have exited my thoughts.
Q. Who's got the best forehand on tour other than you?
LINDSAY DAVENPORT: (Smiling) other than me...
(Note: this is a partial transcript)