Anna Kournikova 2000 French Open 1st-Round Interview ( Sports - Women's Tennis )  

2000 French Open at Roland Garros, Paris, France, on May 31, 2000
Anna Kournikova defeated Vanessa Webb, 6-4, 6-4
Anna's rank: 15th   Anna's seed: 14th

An Interview With Anna Kournikova

Q. Pleased with that performance, your first outing?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah, it was good, considering that I didn't play for the last three weeks, and I had a difficult injury. It was kind of difficult today because I had no rhythm and the girl was playing really slow. It was kind of tough, but I was happy that I played good the important points. I didn't try to go for too much. I played just as much as I needed.

Q. Your preparations were upset by an ankle injury, and also by a book that you will no doubt be aware of, in which you were criticized to a degree for your looks - once again - when she claimed that the attention you get does not match the trophies that you have won. What is your reaction to that?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, first of all my preparation is only upset because of my ankle injury, because I didn't play for two and a half weeks, and I only started to practice last week. Other than that, I hope she'll sign one for me, but I haven't read it.

MODERATOR: The translation that we had in the book, Nathalie was very supportive of Anna, just to set the record straight.

Q. Can you say a little bit about Vanessa as a player? She's different than most of the players.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, not really. If I would have played a few matches before, I probably would have played a little bit different. I wouldn't say she's terrible or great. She's just a very good player that's playing. She's in the main draw of the French Open. That means she's good.

Q. She's fairly good at the net, but didn't hit with much pace.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: She plays a very broken rhythm style of game. I think she'll be better on faster surface.

Q. Dumb question, but there seems to be a favorable reaction when you showed off your new top, outfit. Are you pleased when the crowd reacts this way. Did you get the same reaction?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Every time I get the same reaction.

Q. Does it get any easier to deal with the kind of reaction that you do get when you step on the court? It seems sometimes it may be a distraction.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I'm pretty much used to it. I don't pay attention what's around. I'm just there to play. I concentrate on every point, that's it. I'm there to play.

Q. Are there times that you do let your mind go, and the attention does become too much for you? Are you so single-minded and focused that you can block everything out?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I'm here to play. That's the only thing I'm here to do. If I would be doing something else, I understand. What would I be doing if I wasn't playing? When I am playing, I'm concentrating on it.

Q. The attention you get off court in terms of your image is undeniable. ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Comes with the job. Q. But it's particularly focused upon you.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I can't change it.

Q. Would you want to change it?


Q. If you could, would you?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I can't. It's simple. Even if I would start to dream it would be like this or by that, I can't change it. Why waste your nerves thinking about it if you can't change it?

Q. Do you sometimes yearn to be a player of anonymity, have that attention away from you?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Like I said, I can't change it. I don't think it would be possible to change it right now.

Q. Are you just coming in here to get a little bit of practice, maybe play a couple good matches, or do you think, "If I get myself into the tournament, there's a possibility I could actually win it"?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, it's a difficult question. It was a tough decision for me. First of all, the injury was very strange and difficult and hard. It's the kind of injury that you don't really know. If the x-ray shows you're good, but still the foot shows it doesn't feel so good. It was kind of a difficult decision to make to come here and play. Once the x-rays show my foot was fine, I decided it was fine for me to play. Obviously, I didn't get enough practice. I didn't get enough matchplay. Sometimes it helps. I'm fresh. I'll just try to play, you know, a match at a time. Hopefully my foot doesn't get any worse. That's the first priority right now, is to stay healthy.

Q. Does Lindsay being knocked out of the tournament give yourself maybe a special opportunity here?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Three more matches to go before her.

Q. Nonetheless, she's a seeded, elite player. The three matches before her are opponents you might be able to beat on a regular basis.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Well, I wouldn't look, you know, so far. I never look one match over. I only take it a day at the same time because anything can happen, the conditions, everything around. You never know. Just going to concentrate on my next match. Exactly, Lindsay's loss today shows anything is possible. Everybody's playing here and they want to win.

Q. What would you say you're playing, at about 70, 80% right now?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Yeah, probably 70.

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