The Italian Open was one of the first really big tournaments that Monica Seles won in her career, in 1990 at the age of 16. Her victory in Rome again, this time defeating Amelie Mauresmo, was her first in the Eternal City for a decade and she was over the moon. This is the transcript after her victory in the final.
Q. You said the other day that it is not the experience, but the best player is going to win that day. But today maybe you had so much experience and you started very, very well because you had to start well?
SELES: Well, I still don't believe - I mean, I still stick by my philosophy that you start out much more aggressive. I think in the first set I definitely played better than in the second set, but also Amelie raised her level of game in the second set. But it takes two people, it takes my game to go down and for her to raise her game and vice versa.
Q. What are your feelings after winning this tournament after ten years?
SELES: You know, if someone asked me ten years ago at that time if I still would be playing tennis, I would say no. And I was just joking with the other players in the locker room about that. It's a great feeling. I'm really proud of that. Obviously, it's fantastic, and, you know, both times. I played some unbelievable tennis all week, and, you know, I never expected it to be ten years from now to win it again. It's really great. I'm very happy.
Q. Seeing you play like this, it seems like you are a candidate for winning Roland Garros?
SELES: I think it is just a tough week ahead of me. I'm just going to keep practicing really hard and just look at my first match. I mean, I'd love to play well at the French Open. Obviously, this gives me a lot of matches, a lot of confidence. But it's a totally different tournament, and I still believe I have a long way to go with a few things in my game and my physical training if I want to be consistent and play even better. That's really my challenge, kind of, that I look forward to more than let's say next week's tournament or Wimbledon or so on and so on.
Q. Monica, this week you talked about taking it one match at a time. At any point during the week did you start thinking about the possibility of winning it?
SELES: No. I really was not a player ever to do that, so even since the day that I've come back, I've never done it. I think it's not in my nature to do so.
Q. What was going on in your mind when you were serving for match?
SELES: I just really wanted to close the match up, and I felt I had some chances at 5-3 on her serve, then I lost. I had a terrible service game at 5-4, I really got very tight. And then I broke her again, and I think that other game she played a lot better. I think my mind was a little bit going, 'oh, my gosh, I could really win it here', especially at 5-4, and I got very tight. In the tiebreaker I tried to stay really focused and not get frustrated or think far ahead and just worry about every point.
Q. First time against Mauresmo. What do you think of her performance? Does she remind you of some other players of the past, which sort of player?
SELES: Well, I always was very impressed with Amelie's game, even really before she had the breakthrough in Australia. So I think she has a really heavy shot in her game, and she's very strong physically. I think a little bit she reminded me - a touch bit - she reminded me today, with the heavy spin, of Sabatini, a touch bit. But with a lot more power than Gabby used to do in her serve and movement. But in terms of her ground strokes, it was really the only player in my career that I have played that reminded me of her.
Q. You said yesterday that since you had never met Amelie that you'd speak to your coach about how to approach the match. Do you think that the advice he gave you really was helpful to win it, or what was the tactic?
SELES: He did not give me any advice. He gave me a little sheet of paper, but it was totally different than what Amelie's game was, which was maybe good. I mean it was a good idea. It worked out well at the end, but that was kind of his advice.
Q. So what kind of tactics did he tell you?
SELES: Really he did not tell me any tactics. I'm not lying here at all. He told me something that I had to do my own self, what I had to do, but nothing about Amelie's game, which surprised me, too, this morning. I don't think anyone was watching our practice, we were talking quite a long time.
Q. From outside, you look a little bit sad?
SELES: Me, no?
Q. Yes, yes. Can you give to us five things that make you really happy.
SELES: I'm not sad. (Laughing.)
Q. Just three.
SELES: I don't try to make my happiness on a tennis match. Tennis, every day you have to play; you win some, you lose some. If your emotions depend upon it, you're going to be a nervous wreck. Five things that make me happy, I just think obviously having my family healthy is really one of them high up there; myself healthy and my friends. I've been very lucky with my friends. I don't know.
SELES: Two, I don't know. My dog. (Laughing.)
Q. What about love?
SELES: I never talked about my private life, I'm not going to start today. But I'm just really - I'm very lucky. I always remind myself of that when I go through times that I'm doing something that I love to do. My life has gone through ups and downs, but I think that happens to everybody. And as long - my theory is you get up and try again in every way, in every aspect of my life - in my tennis career, in my personal life, and just keep going on.
Q. What do you think about Navratilova returning to play doubles?
SELES: I'm really excited. She's playing with one of my good friends, Mariaan de Swardt. I'm happy to hear about it. I haven't had a chance to talk to her about it yet. I left a message for her. I can't wait to see her in Paris and get to play with her. I'm just really happy. I think they will do really well, too. So it should be a really fun team, I'm very happy to see that.
Q. Which way will you celebrate tonight?
SELES: I'm just probably going to go to a friend's house, nothing really exciting. It's Sunday night. (Laughing.) There's nowhere to go out. That was one minus of me playing this well this year, I didn't get a chance to go out at all. But that's okay. I wish finals were on Saturdays. (Laughing.)