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An Interview With: Madison Keys

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Q. Your reactions to your performance. Was it better than you'd hoped for? Your assessment of your performance.

MADISON KEYS: I mean, I'm definitely happy with how I played. You know, couldn't really ask for a better way to start a Grand Slam. I was definitely nervous going out there, but was able to work through some of the nerves at the beginning. She started playing better in the second set. But just really happy to be able to kind of hold her off and keep playing so well.

Q. Younger players talk about nerves. What is your tricks of mental gymnastics of getting over the nerves?

MADISON KEYS: I definitely think it's just focusing on your game, you know, not really kind of overthinking the moment, being an American playing at the US Open. If you overthink it, you know, you can definitely start getting more and more nervous. So I think for me just really focusing on my game, you know, having my game plan, knowing what I'm going to do helped me a lot today.

Q. We talked to Catherine Bellis today, a 15-year-old. Is it your sense you're part of this wave of new generation of American players that in the next 10 years will be a group of players doing really well?

MADISON KEYS: Yeah, I definitely think there's a big group of women and men, you know, right now that are slowly doing better and better, kind of making a name for U.S. tennis more and more. I'm really happy and honored to be one of the people that's part of the big group.

Q. Catherine won today. She's 15. What did you know about her before today?

MADISON KEYS: I mean, I knew she had won the wild card, after winning Kalamazoo, whatever it's called for girls. Then I saw her up on, you know, the screen and things like that. I knew that she won. Congrats to her. That's a massive win. Was it her first WTA match ever maybe? Yeah. I mean, that's not a bad win. I bet she's very excited. I'm really happy for her.

Q. As someone that started very young yourself, what kind of advice do you have for someone in the spotlight?

MADISON KEYS: I would have to say to embrace it but also not overthink it. You know, you can definitely get very nervous and you can really kind of start overthinking things and expecting a lot of yourself. So I think she just has to go out, have fun and keep playing. She has plenty of years ahead of her.

Q. You look at players playing at 32, 33. Can you see yourself doing this for 15 more years, at a pretty high level?

MADISON KEYS: 15, 16, 17 years, that would put me almost at 40.

Q. Let's say 10, 11, 12.

MADISON KEYS: Okay. I think I could still be playing. Hopefully my body can hang on and all that. I mean, we love what we do or else we wouldn't be here. So I think all of us will be playing until the day that our bodies tell us that we cannot play any longer.

Q. After your match it seemed you related to the fans. They gravitated towards you.

MADISON KEYS: I have been in the seats and I know what it's like to be out there watching, be super excited, stay after a match and want an autograph and things like that. So for me I want to be one of those people that can sign as many autographs as I can, take as many pictures as I can, because they're part of the reason why I'm here. They're the people that stay out there late and they watch my matches and cheer me on. Me taking five minutes out of my day to try to get to everyone, do as much as I can, it's not that hard for me.

Q. Every year it's the same thing, American tennis is dead. As part of this new group, why do you think it is important that you plant the flag and get American tennis where it was 20 years ago?

MADISON KEYS: I think that it's definitely on the upswing. I definitely think we're one of the countries with the most people in the top 100. I think we're one of the only countries with as many people in Grand Slams consecutively. So when people say that American tennis is dead and things like that, you know, you kind of take it a little personal. Someone went as far as to say that Serena Williams is the only American player, male or female, worth talking about or watching or anything like that. So I took that a little personal. But I think Serena's amazing. She's out there, she's winning Grand Slams. She's going for her 18th Grand Slam now. I think you have to kind of put it in perspective that she's one of the greatest of all time. I think a lot of times people expect every American to live up to that standard, and that's not going to happen. You know, there's only so many Serena Williams or Chris Everts or Martina Navratilovas. I definitely think American tennis is getting better and there are more people in the top 100 and competing in Grand Slams. So I think everyone is kind of expecting a lot. But then they're also not giving us full credit. I think everyone is just a little impatient right now because there was definitely a lull for a while where there weren't many people, but I think we're definitely getting better. I think in the next five years there will be a big group of Americans.

Q. Are you talking about the powers that be? Who is getting impatient? Are you talking about within the tennis world?

MADISON KEYS: I just think everyone in the tennis world. We definitely get a lot of support from them. That's kind of all that we're asking for, is just some support. You know, just keep cheering us on and we'll keep getting better.

Q. How was it like for you when you had to make a choice about college or not?

MADISON KEYS: Personally for me, I never really wanted to play college tennis. I signed when I was 14. So for me it was never even really an option. I've always wanted to be a professional tennis player. I couldn't imagine going to college first and then coming here. So for me it was an easy decision. But other people want to go to college first and then become a professional. I think it's really just each person is different in their choices.

Q. In Italy we have strong women, and the men's side is not very strong. What is it that American girls have compared to the men's side?

MADISON KEYS: Can I plead the Fifth on that one? I know a lot of the U.S. guys, and they're all very hard workers. I want everyone to do well, especially on the men's side. The women's side has definitely been doing better than they have for a little while now. Hopefully we can inspire some of the boys and they will get their rankings up.

Q. If you're a guy, basketball, baseball, football, hockey, are there more distractions?

MADISON KEYS: I think that could be part of it. I think for women, we definitely have less professional sports that we could be really good at. But guys have a lot more. So I think that could be part of it.