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Wimbledon - Finals
Post Match Interview

Pete SAMPRAS def. Pat Rafter
6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 6-2

July 9, 2000

MODERATOR: I'm sure he needs no introduction.

Q. What emotions are you going through right now?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's very emotional for a number of reasons: the past week and a half, the fact that my parents were here, obviously the title and how important this tournament is to me, just all kind of hit me at the end when I won. It was nice to share it with my parents who have never been to Wimbledon. I've wanted them to be a part of it. Win or lose today, I was going to invite them here. I'm glad they hopped on the plane and made the trip.

Q. Were you worried about putting pressure on yourself that you might not have been able to pull it out?

PETE SAMPRAS: You can't worry about that. The way the match was going, I thought I was going to let it slip away. Are you talking as far as my parents?

Q. A chance you would lose. It would be a downer.

PETE SAMPRAS: It would be a downer. Obviously I've won here before. Sure, you want to win every time you get to the final. I worked very hard to get here. If it didn't happen, it didn't happen, you know. It didn't faze me playing today, even though I was quite tight at times throughout the match. I'm fortunate that I got through it. I really worked hard out there.

Q. Can you talk about why your parents haven't made a practise of coming to your matches, why you felt maybe this time was the best time for that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the older that I've gotten, you want your family around, you know. They've always kind of, you know, given me my space when I'm playing, competing. They don't want me to worry about them. But I told myself if I got to the final here, or any major, that I wanted them to be here. I'm glad they both came.

Q. In the past, why haven't they come to your matches?

PETE SAMPRAS: They get very nervous. Not just that, but being superstitious, they are very shy people, they -- if you know where they're sitting, they don't want to be on camera.

Q. When did they fly in? What did they say to you when you got in the stands?

PETE SAMPRAS: Just that they love me, "I'm proud of you." They got in, I believe, yesterday.

Q. What prompted you to go up into the stands to see them? It didn't look quite the same as Venus' spontaneity yesterday. Did someone suggest it to you?

PETE SAMPRAS: I looked over at my box. They're all pointing to my parents, that I should go up there. It took me a while to find them (laughter). Once I did, it was a great moment.

Q. Your mother wasn't there at first.

PETE SAMPRAS: They were up in the rafters. Took them a while to get them down.

Q. Can you talk about what they've meant to your career. They've been in the shadows.

PETE SAMPRAS: They've always been very supportive, very loving. They weren't the typical parents, where they're with me every week. I'm my own man. They always give me my independence. I obviously thank them for giving me the chance to play this game, to be able to play here and break this record. They supported me throughout all the highs and lows. They've seen me at my best and worst. I want them to be a part of it. That was -- as much as I like to say I'm going to be back here every year, there's no guarantees. You know, win or lose today, I wanted them -- sure, it would have been disappointing, but it would have been okay to have them here. If it didn't happen, it didn't happen.

Q. Can you think of anybody beating the record? Do you think this is a benchmark, 13 Grand Slams?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, time will tell if it will be broken. I think in the modern game, it could be difficult. It's a lot of commitment, a lot of good playing at big times. You know, it's hard to see one guy or three guys that I see maybe doing it. It's possible. I mean, the next person might be eight years old hitting at a park somewhere around the world. You never know. There's guys that are, you know, great players that could possibly do it. But it's not easy.

Q. What was the good play at the big time in today's match?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, how the match went, obviously there's a lot of nerves out there. We both were feeling it. I lost my nerve in the first set. He lost his nerve 4-1 in the second breaker. Serving at 4-1, I really felt like it was slipping away. Somehow got through that tiebreaker. From a matter of feeling like I was going to lose the match, I felt like I was going to win the match within two minutes. That's grass court tennis. Then I got on his serve a little bit and started making him work and work and work. Eventually I got the break and served well when I had to. You know, Pat is a great player that is going to be in contention here every year he plays. It really is a matter of a couple points. I had chances throughout the match to break. Didn't convert them. The closer the match got, I felt it slipping away. Once we got in the second set breaker, I felt my nerve a little bit. But I got fortunate in the breaker. That changed the whole course of the match.

Q. Late in the fourth set, did you feel like you were racing against time? Obviously you didn't want to spill this over until tomorrow.

PETE SAMPRAS: No, I didn't. I just wanted -- even if it would have stopped at some point, I was up a set. If it was 4-All or 5-All, I think I would have slept tonight pretty confident that I could get through it. You never want to come back. You want to keep on your momentum, keep on your rhythm. Fortunately, everything just worked perfectly.

Q. How was visibility?

PETE SAMPRAS: It was difficult at the end. I mean, I think we only had about maybe ten minutes left to play. It was an interesting time, interesting day.

Q. Could we say today was the best day of your tennis life?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, with everything that's happened, I'd say this is one of my best moments. You know, over time, I'll appreciate it much more than I am right now. It's hard to really tell you how I feel in ten minutes. I'm sure as the months go by and the years go by, I'll look back at these two weeks as the most difficult, the most satisfying. The fact that my parents were here, it was a great script that just really worked out well for me.

Q. Comparable to which other moments?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, comparable to the Slams that I've won, obviously the first time I won here. You know, when you win here, you always take something away from it. I didn't feel like I was really at my best at this Wimbledon. You know, the second week I really kind of felt out of sorts for various reasons. Today, I found my game when I had to. That was really -- you know, that's what I'm taking away from these two weeks.

Q. Was it your return? You seemed to return better today than in the previous two weeks. Is that what you mean by finding your game?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, return. You have to return well against Pat. He volleys so well, he's so tough to pass because of his athletic ability. I just felt, you know, I had some chances, and I didn't quite get the return in. Finally in the third and fourth, I was making him work, making him work. Even though I was losing some of his games, I was Love-30, 30-All. I felt like it was a matter of time before eventually I was going to break him. You know, it's not easy to play out there under these conditions. The nerves, the emotional roller coaster we both went through today coming back on and off, on and off. It's just amazing how it all worked out. I didn't think I was going to play today. I thought it was going to be canceled. Just got through it.

Q. What did you do during the break?

PETE SAMPRAS: I just relaxed. It's always tough to know when to eat. You eat a little bit. Just wait for it to stop. You know, there was a point there where you could mentally tell yourself, "I'm not playing." Boom, the sun came out, I had to get ready in 15 minutes. It's part of the charm of Wimbledon, you have to deal with the obstacles of the weather.

Q. You're very aware of tennis history. People have been asking you about this record for forever. Can you talk about the quality of relief? Is it a feeling of finally achieving it? Is there that feeling of relief?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I don't look at it as relief. I never, ever planned on ever breaking this record. I think when I hit nine or ten, it was a possibility. But I never looked at breaking the record as pressure. I looked at it as an opportunity that I would love to do it. But you don't plan on breaking records like this. It's kind of transcended into something that I put myself in a position to do it. It hasn't hit me. It won't hit me for months. Probably, you know, I'm just kind of still spinning a little bit. It's amazing. It really is amazing how this tournament just panned out for me. I didn't really feel like I was going to win here. You know, I really felt I was struggling, didn't really know how it was all going to turn out.

Q. What can you tell us about your foot now that you couldn't tell us before - your treatment, how bad it was?

PETE SAMPRAS: It was an interesting week. I was sore. I had to do what I had to do to play. It's part of being an athlete. You play through situations. You know, I a little time off will be nice to kind of let it heal. You know, I don't think I would have played another event if it wasn't Wimbledon.

Q. What were the actual lowest points, the things you did for it? Is there anything you're willing to tell us now that you weren't willing to tell us earlier?

PETE SAMPRAS: Like I said, I did whatever I had to do to play. You know, I had a good medical team, doctors that really were great.

Q. Any witch doctors?

PETE SAMPRAS: I tried everything (laughter). Acupuncturist.

Q. Did you feel in a comfortable position in the fourth set, being so dark, figuring how well he could see your serves anymore?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, I didn't. It was getting dark, but it wasn't to the point where we couldn't see the ball. It wasn't really a problem. I think we both knew by 9:00 they were going to call it. It would have been a tough night of sleep. I was up a set. I like that position.

Q. You said you were nervous out there, even after winning six times?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. We all choke. No matter who you are, you just get in the heat of the moment. You know, the title could be won or lost in a matter of a couple shots. I really felt it slipping away. I felt like I was outplaying him for the first set. I didn't get the break. I was outplaying him a little bit in the second. Comes down to a tiebreaker. Anything can happen. Just roll the dice. I mean that was really the turning point of the match, that second set breaker. I felt it was slipping away. When you're sitting on the changeover, you think of past matches that you've lost the first set - to Becker, 7-6 at one stage, came back and won the next three. There's times you reflect on your past experiences, being able to get through it.

Q. You described your parents as being people who let you have the limelight to yourself. How important to your development as a player has that been? There are so many tennis parents who are very involved in every aspect of their child's play.

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, they've always kept their distance. As a junior and as a kid can, they were involved. But as I turned pro, started traveling with different coaches, I was on my own. They supported, did what parents do. They just love you. They always say the right things. They just have always kept their distance. They've never wanted to get in my way when I'm competing.

Q. Is there danger now that your dad will develop into the kind of guy who will dance on the box?

PETE SAMPRAS: He won't be putting up any signs either, no (laughter). He doesn't quite like the attention maybe like Mr. Williams.

Q. Are you grateful that your parents are the out-of-the-limelight types, maybe not more stifling of the attention?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, one thing, my parents have always been, they've always been my -- my parents are not tennis parents. You see a lot of cases where parents get too involved. They've always kept their distance. I mean, when I go home, I'm the same Pete that they have always treated me as a kid. You know, they've given me the strength and the heart to be here. They gave me a chance to play this great game. Obviously I'm thankful for what they've done for me. Obviously as the years go on, you want them to be a part of situations in your career. This is one of them. Maybe The Open in a couple months' time. Talking to my dad, I think he needs a little break (laughter).

Q. At what point did you ask them to come? Was this something you planned in advance if you got to the finals?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, we've talked about it. Each year I get to the final, I invite them. My dad said, "Oh, no, you're doing fine." Just didn't want -- not that he didn't want to be a part of it. He just gets very nervous. You know, I just mentioned it before I left on this European trip. "If I get to the final of a major, I want you guys to be there." They remembered it. I talked to them after I won my semi. I said, "All right, let's see if you guys get on that plane." They did.

Q. What about crowd reaction?

PETE SAMPRAS: They were great. The crowd was into the match. At the end, it was a great moment. It was an amazing setting because it was getting dark, the flashes. The roar of the crowd was a moment that I'll never forget.

Q. What's left for you to accomplish in tennis now?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, from an achievement standpoint, I've done what I've wanted to do. I've been No. 1 for a while, I've won Slams. Obviously the French is the one that's missing. But I still love competing and I love playing. I love being in situations like today where you feel nervous before you go out there, you have anxiety, you find a way to get through it. Today I did that. I got through it and found a way to win. You know, it's time to just kind of sit back and really soak this up, enjoy it, not really worry about what's next, just reflect on these last two weeks.

Q. Is there a chance that you would scale back? You have the record now, you're engaged. These are major milestones in your life. Is there a chance you scale back the schedule, just prepare for the Slams?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think that's kind of my schedule, my goals for the rest of my career, give me the best schedule, you know, to do well at the Slams. You know, as much as I'd like to get back to No. 1, it's not as much of a priority. I mean, these are the occasions, the reason why I practise, play and train, for the majors.

Q. What are the chances of playing Davis Cup?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's hard to really say at this point. I've taken some pretty aggressive measures to play here. It's time to let this thing heal properly. But I'll do whatever I can to make the trip. You know, how effective I'll be, I don't know. If things are good, I'm planning on going.

Q. Do you remember the sixth game when you broke, trying to consolidate, you double-faulted, down a breakpoint. Was that nerves?

PETE SAMPRAS: That's nerves. When you get that break, you tell yourself, "I have to hold serve three more times." You feel the nerves. When your heart rate is going up, you feel the nerves. No matter how many times you've been in the Wimbledon final, you're going to feel the pressure. That was obviously a huge game to get through. From then on, just broke him the next game and made it serving it out that much easier.

Q. Did you know his family were coming, all the way from Australia? You spoiled their party, but did it sort of --?

PETE SAMPRAS: Not really.


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