ROSIE PEREZ: We'd like to welcome Anna Kournikova, back for her fourth year with World Team Tennis, second year with the Sacramento Capitals, playing five matches this summer, one in Sacramento, four on the road, one in Delaware, one in New York, one in Boston and one in St. Louis.
We'll go ahead and start with questions.
Q. Have you ever been to Delaware before? Do you know where it is? A lot of people have trouble finding it on the map.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think I'm one of those people. No, but I don't think we've ever played there. It will be a new place to visit.
Q. What have you been doing in the last year and how is your health? Any particular part that you're trying to rehab?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, the physical aspect of it is that it's not something in particular that I've been rehabbing, but I have a bad back. I have a chronic spinal lumbar dysfunction. That's the proper name for it. It's not one of those things that bothers you on a day-to-day basis. If I exercise a little too much, it does bother me. The main problem is if I start training for like six hours a day on a professional level, that's when it's really troubled. If I exercise one or two hours a day, it doesn't bother me at all.
We'll see. I really don't know how to fix that problem as of right now. If I would have known, I would have already come back and played.
Q. World Team Tennis must fit in pretty well.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yes.
Q. It's competitive, but it's not a level that it sounds like it would bother.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: It's very competitive, but it's at a level for me physically personally that it's very short amount of time. My back doesn't start to get bad. The problem with injury that I have is that playing on tour, you have to be -- you have to play every week tournaments and travel constantly, playing every single day. With Team Tennis, I can just play a few matches and start really preparing for it a short time before. It doesn't give me enough time to completely get hurt or like to bother me.
Q. Are you at a point where you're kind of thinking WTA-level tennis is something that you're not really able to play right now? Are you thinking long-term? What are some of your goals? Do you hope to get back to it if you can unlock whatever the problem is exactly?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, it's very hard to say right now. I don't know exactly what the goal is right now. I'm just kind of taking a break, taking it a day or month at a time. Believe me, if I would have -- I would like to know also. If I would have known, I already would have made some kind of statement or announcement or something because, as you can imagine, I get these questions all the time. It's also very hard for me. Really, I want to be honest and I don't want to, you know, raise anybody's expectations or even my expectations, give any kind of time frame just yet.
Q. Team Tennis is a fun concept. The fans that come out to see you get a personal look at you guys, loud music. Is that one of the reasons that you do it, because of the fun? Obviously, someone in your position, you don't really need the money. Is it also a situation where a lot of you girls like to thank Billie Jean King for what she's done to tennis?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Oh, absolutely. I think she's just a legend. There's no other words to describe her, what she has done on and off the court. For me personally, it's a great opportunity to play Team Tennis. Like you described, it's fun, but at the same time it's very competitive. We all get into the team spirit, just going for it. It's always a great atmosphere.
For me personally, it's just a great way to be on the court again. Like I said before, it's a short amount of time. I can really have fun on the court and play because I do miss it very much. To be in front of the fans, play great tennis, there's a gazillion reasons why I love it.
Q. It's also a chance for you guys to get to some places that don't have a regular WTA event, come out and actually see some of the great players in tennis, get a personal look at you guys.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Absolutely. It's great that Team Tennis, the teams are in cities that normally don't have tournaments or big tournaments. It is a great opportunity for fans to come out and see great players. It's a great opportunity for me to travel the country, too, to places where I probably normally wouldn't go because there's no tennis tournaments. I actually took a friend of mine last year on the road with us because she's never been anywhere in America. It was a great way for her to just see and visit different cities, like completely different than you would normally go to, get a taste of real America.
Q. You are one of the women, you hear it all the time, Anna Kournikova never won a title, but you probably have done more for the awareness of women's tennis other than Billie Jean King.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, it's all her.
Q. Late think this week in the paper, John McEnroe has come out again and said that he could beat the top player on the women's tour with no problem. What is his point, do you think? Do you think it would be a good idea for Lindsay Davenport to play John McEnroe?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think he probably could beat any player in the world right now. At the end of the day, I take the position that men are men and they're just obviously physically stronger. I mean, there's no question about it.
But at the same time I think -- I think that John is just great and controversy. He likes it in a good way. I do think that -- it's obvious that I know that men are much stronger physically. Especially someone like John who is still at an amazing level. I play exhibitions and charity matches with him all the time. He's in incredible shape. He's in great shape. I think he could win.
Q. Last year you came to Sac. They kind of rushed you in and out. Did you get a chance to spend any time here at all and how did our city treat you?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, the fans were amazing. We had a great time. I really didn't get the chance to see the city. Like you said, we were kind of rushed in and out. Hopefully maybe this time around I will get to spend some more time there. I'm not sure about the exact schedule yet, when we're getting there and when we're leaving.
I mean, it's always -- the best part of it is playing in front of the home crowd.
Q. I realize you need to go to all these different cities, but you do play for the Capitals here in Sacramento. Why only one home match? Is that something you would have to talk to your people?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Oh, I'm not sure. The team schedules who plays where. That's something you would have to talk to the team's representative. I really just get the schedule, five matches, that's it.
Q. Besides this year's World Team Tennis, any new projects in the works for you other than tennis?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: There's a bunch of projects that I'm working on. There's a few things that I'm involved in. I don't just sit around. I like working. I like being active. I like kind of trying new things. I like to keep busy.
Q. Anything in the movies?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, not professionally. If something fun comes along or right, but definitely not something I'm looking at as a career.
Q. How have fans treated you over the last year when you go on tour? Pretty nice, autographs, do you get heckled all?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Just a little.
Q. For the most part, they're pretty nice?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Oh, they're very nice. They're always very nice, definitely.
Q. The reason I ask, last year Martina Navratilova was here playing against the Delaware Smash, and I think some fans were giving them a hard time. She wound up giving them the finger. I don't know if that's something you ever deal with or would ever happen to you.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, I wouldn't say never. There's bound to be some weird incidents. But it's not like you take anything personal. I mean, sportsfans are sportsfans. They're rooting for somebody or whatever. It's absolutely normal.
It's great that they get involved. It's great that they're so actively, you know, just having fun and are into the games or whatever sport they're watching. I think it's awesome.
Q. I believe you are Delaware Smash's opening match. They're having a look-alike promotion.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah, I heard about that.
Q. Do you get to do the judging or how does that work?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think so, but I'm not really exactly sure about the concept. I know that it's for girls between 6 and 16. It's for girls, so that should be fun. It will be cute to see all of them dressed up in their little skirts.
Q. Have you done that before? It sounds like an interesting concept.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah, I think I've done that a bunch of times somewhere.
Q. Boston is getting excited to have you out here.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I can't wait to go back to Boston. I always have a great time there.
Q. I was wondering what kind of history you have with your teammates and if you worked with coach Wayne Bryan before, what kind of relationship you have there.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, he was our coach last year also. He's just an amazing person. He's so much fun. It's just really like so enthusiastic, I can't describe. But he's great for the game. He's a wonderful, nice, sweet person.
My team actually, it couldn't be any better for me. I'm playing with one of my best friends, Elena Likhovtseva. I literally grew up with her. We had a blast on the road last year. I'm sure we'll have it this year. Also Mark Knowles, I grew up with him also playing on the tour mixed doubles, a million times. I played a bunch of Grand Slams with him mixed doubles. I got to know pretty well Sam last year, too, and Nicole. She was sweet also. The only new girl is the Russian girl who I've never met or even know about. I don't know anything about her.
I really am happy with my team. It's literally like a happy road trip.
Q. What was your experience last year with the Sacramento team? What made you want to come back and do it again?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, the experience was great. Like I said, there's a gazillion reasons for me playing Team Tennis. I really enjoy and have fun with my team. It's a great opportunity for me to be on the court again because I don't get those opportunities very often any more.
Q. You helped create awareness for women's tennis. It's grown so much since you started. How do you feel as a pioneer and what do you think of these up-and-coming athletes on your team this year?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I really don't want to take the credit for starting anything. It's kind of strange, I don't know. It's just great to see the sport evolve so much. I'm just really happy for women's sports in general.
Well, speaking of the young players, I've only seen Nicole those few matches that we played last year, but she seemed like she knows what she's doing. The other young Russian girl, I don't know her. I've never seen her.
Q. You'll be heading up here to lobster country in July.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I love Boston. I can't wait to go back. I always have a great time there.
Q. You brought up Nicole Vaidisova's name, your injury, you don't know whether or not it's going to allow you to come back on court. You have a front row seat seeing Nicole, up-and-coming. You get to see the up-and-coming game right there live. What do you think about it? If you were to come back, how do you think your game would translate in today's game?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I mean, obviously the game and tennis, since I stopped playing three years ago, I'm sure it's completely changed and moved forward, progressed. At the same time there's basics, the court is still the same. The most important is to just really focus on yourself when you're playing and when you're trying to achieve something, always not to be worried how the other person is playing or what they're doing. I think you just have to know your weapons and weaknesses and judge on that and work on those things.
Q. With Martina Hingis coming out of retirement, may that inspire some thoughts in you to also return to the tour?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: It definitely sparked my curiosity. It would be so cool. At the same time I look at it realistically. I only want to come back if a hundred percent both physically and mentally. I'm happy and excited for her to be back because she has so much more to give to the game. It's also great for fans to have her back and for younger players to learn and watch here because she's an incredible and true talent.
Q. I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about your Miami Heat Game 6.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Finally somebody asked.
Q. What can we expect in Game 6, Shaq and Wade?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Oh, God, I don't know. I just hope something will happen. Oh, my God, the last game was so -- such a dramatic game. We were going crazy.
Hopefully we can win. Hopefully nobody will expect, because it's always the underdog at away games. Hopefully there will be a little miracle today.
Q. Have you had a chance to meet Mark Cuban?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No.
Q. Wild guy.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I don't know.
Q. When you're in Delaware, it's going to be the same weekend as The Championships at Wimbledon. How do you think you'll feel?
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I'll feel normal. I'll feel like I want to win and beat you guys.
ROSIE PEREZ: Thank you all so much for calling.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Thank you.
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