Irina Interview

Irina's Interviews!

After beating Anna Kournikova

After beating Larissa Osterloh

After beating Amanda Coetzer at the US Open

After beating Monica Seles at the US Open

This was given to me by Alexandra Costiniu. Thanks Alex!

Reporter: Many professional tennis players are complaining about the fact that the life of a professional player is very difficult, that you have to travel a lot, that it's getting boring after you did this so many times. What do you think?

S: Sometimes it drives me crazy yoo! Some people may say I'm overreacting, but I can tell you, it's not very exciting to pack your things every week, to have the same discussions about the plane ticket, your luggage, etc. I'm very happy when I take part to a big comp, since a Grand Slam usually ends after two weeks! Anyway, I still get bored if I stay too much in the same place.

R: Could you live without tennis?

S: If I don't play for just one day, I feel like I'm in the mood for tennis! Sometimes, I'm really happy that I'm gonna play on a different surface (she refers to the tennis field, cement, etc), because this involves a different kind of training, a different strategy, and this makes it all more interesting and exciting.

R: More and more tennis players are lesbians. Why?

S: I think this is a consequence of their way of life. Maybe it wouldn't be the same if we took part to a competition together with the men, I mean it would be better if every tournament had also a women comp and a men comp. For example, at Indian Wells or Key Byscaynem, it's a lot better! You see other people, you make jokes, and you meet more players from your country. It's true, there are many lesbians, but this doesn't bother me. Many of them don't admit it, others do.

R: Do you think this is the reason for which the officials are considering creating tournaments for both men and women that would take place in the same time and place?

S: Well, nobody's saying this in the open. Anyway, this is about every player's life. The men tournaments are beginning to lose their excitement. For me, this new formula of competition would be great.

R: Irina you are now number 12,13 in the world, you've also been among the first 10 and you are now the best Romanian players. Is this important for you?

S: No, I don't care if I'm Romania's number one or not. What I care about is my real value; I am more preoccupied about the way I'm playing. It's less important if I'm among the first 10,15,20.The most important thing is to be happy with yourself, with the way you're playing.

R: You won more than 1,000,000 $. What does money means for you?

S: Nothing special. I didn't know I won 1,000,000 $, till the newspapers wrote about it, because I didn't get exactly 1,000,000, I had to pay taxes, plane tickets, etc. I can't say I don't have enough money, it's just that it's not exactly as people think.

R: How much did you get exactly?

S: I really don't know. I have a manager to take care of these things.

R: How does it feel not to worry about your financial future?

S: It's great, but this does not mean I'm spending all my money just for fun. But for example, if I play well in a big tournament, I can afford something eccentric, something very expensive. It's just that now I feel "normal", I have a normal life. It's great not to worry about your financial future.

R: Do you own a house in Italy?

S: No, I own one in Bucharest.

R: But you live in Italy?

S: Well, not exactly. My manager and my coaches are Italians, but I also have to spend a lot of time in the USA.I travel from Rome to Milano, from Milano to Santa Maggiore and there to USA. It depends on the surface on which I have to play the next tournament.

R: Why did it take you so long (2-3) years to reach this high level, to become such a good player?

S: Maybe it's the Romanian way of thinking. Our mentality is different: nobody says:" Spirlea beat X", everybody says: "Spirlea won 10,000$". In western countries it's different: you play, you win, you get a lot of money, this is what matters. If you play well enough, you have enough money. We Romanians are shyer; we don't wanna bother anybody. It's good to be like that, but you sometimes have to say some things right to somebody else's face, you need to have your own point of you and to state it clearly. When I played against Graf or Sanchez, I was so nervous, I was overwhelmed. But now, everything's changed.

R: You're idol was Graf, then you played against her. Was this hard?

S: Well, my idols were Graf and Navratilova and they were "giants" for me! I respected them a lot. The first time I played against Navratilova, I felt I just couldn't do it. I respected her too much. Now it's different, I learnt to respect the players outside the tennis court, but when I'm playing they are just my rivals. I have to play and to win. It took me some time till I learnt that. This means, "I turned pro"!

R: Do you feel you're a star now?

S: No. Maybe people see me like that. I'm a public person, but I try to stay just a normal, common person. You never know what will happen, you're famous for sometime and then you're suddenly nobody. Ilie Nastase or Graf are stars. But what about me? There were many players that were in the top 10, and now nobody knows anything about them any longer.

R: People usually compare you with Graf.

S: Probably because we have the same strong backhand. Many people came and asked for autographs, thinking I was Graf. I told them: "I'm not Graf. I wish I were!"

R: Who are your best friends?

S: I have many friends in Bucharest, Rome, and Paris. I get along very well with many players too, like the Argentineans Patricia Tarabini, Ines Gorrochategui, the French Caroline Vis, the Spanish Arantxa Sanchez.

R: Irina, how would you characterize yourself?

S: I am a good person as long as you don't get on my nerves (don't think it's a good translation), as long as you behave normally. Unless, you don't get another chance. I'm also stubborn. I don't give up easily. Some people say I'm moody. Since I was 16 years old, I've been travelling alone around the world, so I learnt to take care of myself, to face reality and never give up. S: They helped me a lot, they were 100% by my side, and they stood by me even when I was down. And this is so important!

R: What do you like to eat?

S: I love the way my mom cooks. I also love Mexican, Chinese, Italian food, but before playing I usually eat pastas. (Spaghetti, etc)

R: What do you usually wear?

S: I love to wear jeans, I always wear jeans. When I'm wearing a dress or high heels, it's just not me.

R: What did you wear at the gala where you were awarded the prize for the tennis player who improved the most over the last year?

S: I bought everything in the States, coz I didn't have anything to wear for such an occasion. I was wearing high heels and it was a disaster, I had to walk near some people to make sure I wasn't gonna fall right in front of all those people!

R: Your favourite colour?

S: Red, but I usually wear black and white.

R: Which town did you like the most?

S: I have some strong memories from Chicago, I was there last year and I really loved it, it was a mixture of Europe and America. New York is great but too crowded, it's like chaos. But you always associate the town with the respective tournament. I don't like the tournament; I usually don't like to go there again. When you're in England you usually go like: "Lord! We're in England, it's gonna rain, what are we gonna do?"

R: I guess you like cars.

S: Yeah, I have a Daewoo at home. But I don't need a better one! If I spent a good part of my money on a very important part, I would always worry for it:" What if somebody steals it", etc, so I have a normal, not too expensive car. This doesn't mean I wouldn't like a Porsche, maybe I'll buy one, we'll see. For the time being, my car is ok.

R: You were accused by the chief of the Romania Sports Department, that you don't love your country coz you didn't come to play for the national team.

S: As long as the referee says: Irina Spirlea, ROMANIA", these accusations don't make sense. You don't come here to play and break your bones for free; do the football players do that? I don't think anybody would play without being paid. Why should I be different? I'd not play in the Fed Cup for myself.

R: What do ya like to do when you've got some free time?

S: I talk on the phone, I sleep. I go to a movie, I go shopping, and I have a walk.

This page is another direct copy from Lauren's Irina Spirlea, as usual, I fixed up the spelling and the grammar (I hope I caught all of them) to make it easier to read. Appoligize to Lauren for not asking her first, but I believe all the Tennis fan will forgive me on this one. (Well, at least I hope so.)

Back to the court!