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August 27, 2015

Serena Williams

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Serena.

Q. (Question about pressure going for the Grand Slam.)
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't feel that fresh pressure. If I make it far, maybe I'll start to feel pressure. But as of now, I really don't feel any. I'm just here, like I said earlier, to perform and to the best I can.

Q. Do you remember your first match on Arthur Ashe Stadium, what that was like for you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't remember. Sorry. I don't remember. I want to say maybe I played Spirlea, yeah? Pulled that out of the back of my memory. That was a long time ago (laughter).
I remember winning that and feeling really good. I don't remember. It was a really tough match for me, so I don't remember how I felt, I just remember winning that match.

Q. When you're signing autographs here in New York, what is the thing people say to you the most?
SERENA WILLIAMS: They always say how they're happy to meet me. Lately they've been saying they've been inspired by me and they wanted to do like me, help and be like me.
It gives me chill bumps to know that they feel that way and that I can inspire people. That's kind of how it's been.

Q. You did karaoke last night. You said you were trying to blow off some steam. I think you described it as almost like the elephant in the room.

Q. Is that a kind of strategy going into the tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think so. And I have to say that I think Wimbledon gave me unbelievable practice for this. At Wimbledon I was going for the second Serena Slam. That is rare.
So, yeah, that really gave me the best practice and preparation in terms of going for the Grand Slam.

Q. No other man or woman has won seven US Opens. Are you aware of that? Are you conscious of records at this point in your career or is that something that we as writers obsess about?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely think that's something that the writers focus on a little more. I had no idea of that. That sounds really cool, you know.
But hopefully if things don't work out this year, I'm obviously going to be here next year and have another chance to do that.

Q. When you were a kid, what did you dream about when you were first starting playing? Did you dream about winning one US Open or a Grand Slam?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I always dreamt of winning the US Open. I have always dreamt of winning the Grand Slam. Again, it was just a dream. I never thought I would be close to doing something like that.
So, yeah, my dream originally was always to win here in New York.

Q. Do you remember the first time you came to the US Open, how old you were?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think the first time I came, I watched Venus play. It was an incredible experience for me because she actually made it to the final. That was great. That was great to see and to be a part of that moment, to kind of get experience. Even though I wasn't playing, I got experience by watching her. I learned so much. It was I think the best experience anyone my age could have.

Q. We're talking a lot about the pressure you're facing now. Basically there's always pressure.

Q. After this it would be Steffi Graf, then Margaret Court. So is this just something you're convinced you can go through the rest of your career facing this stuff?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes, I feel like there's always another record, then there's always another person to catch up with or to pass.
I never really thought I would be in this position where I would even be talking about, you know, records, talking about passing Steffi Graf or even mentioning Margaret Court.
I mean, I just grew up trying to be the best that I could and do the best that I could. I worked really hard for everything. So to even be mentioned in that conversation is great.
But like I said, I feel like I don't put that pressure on myself to do anything here 'cause I'm obviously going to be excited to compete next year and just keep going and have fun.

Q. You've been winning Grand Slams for many, many years now. The last three years you've been much more consistently successful. What has been the difference in those three years compared with before that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think I won 13 before, and then I won in the last three years eight. So that's a lot, and I think just more consistently.
Also clearly working with Patrick has helped me a lot and helped me to achieve that consistency and have different goals, you know, change different elements in my game, ameliorate them, and also just be overall a better competitor on every single surface and every single match that I play.
I think in the long run, that's really been able to help me to get better.

Q. Venus is in your quarter. How crazy would it be if you would have to face Venus at this stage, at this moment, in the quarterfinals?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's better than the Round of 16, so... That's how I look at it.

Q. How has she been supporting you during this?
SERENA WILLIAMS: We don't talk about tennis. I mean, I don't think we ever talk about tennis outside of maybe doubles. We talk about tennis a lot during doubles. I mean, even at tournaments I'll go to her room and we just talk about life.
We're tennis players, we love what we do. We've been groomed since so young to play tennis. At the end of the day we're sisters and we do a lot of other things, as well.

Q. Are you aware that nine players your quarter, including yourself, are Americans? It's an American quarter. Are you looking forward to that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know. We'll have to see. I don't look at the draw. I didn't see the American quarter.
You have Sloane, I seem to play her every tournament. Madison is playing really well. So is Sloane actually, she's playing excellent. So it's not anything simple or easy to go through.

Q. (Question regarding two favorite things about all the Grand Slams.)
SERENA WILLIAMS: That's really hard to say. It's really hard to say because I've done well at all of them. You always hate a tournament until you win it. When you win it, you just kind of fall in love with it.
So definitely hard to say.

Q. Have you talked to Steffi this year? If so, has she said anything about the record?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I've seen a lot of things that she's posted. She's always been so supportive. I know her husband, Andre, who has been incredibly supportive.
So, yeah, I feel that love and support. I really love that, when someone is trying to do the best that they can, that someone as great as Steffi is there to be supportive and be happy more than anything for the next person.

Q. How would you say age or experience has helped you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think being experienced has really helped me a lot, helped me get through a lot of matches. It's helped me overcome a lot of things.
Yeah, it's been great. I've really enjoyed it. I know some matches I got through just on my experience alone, so that's been really able to help me out.

Q. This is probably the busiest summer in terms of photo shoots and interviews. How have you managed your schedule to make sure you're well‑rested and ready for these big matches?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it's not been. This is pretty normal. No, I haven't had anything extra. It's maybe just more covers.
But I call myself 'the hardest working woman in tennis' because I'm always between the fashion, between everything that I'm doing. It's always a lot.

Q. So it feels normal?

Q. In your heart and in your mind, do you believe you're the greatest woman to have played this game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I can't sit here and say that. But I can sit here and say that I'm the greatest player that I've been able to be. I do read numbers and I do see numbers. I believe in those numbers.
I think, you know, different generations and different times have different champions, have different greats, have different levels of players. It's really difficult to compare, you know, one generation to another, generations several ago. Things change: power, technique, technology. A lot of things have contributed to that.

Q. When you look back at some turning points in your career, losses at two straight Opens, did you learn from that and how did that affect you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was I think two straight Opens where I had really awful calls happen. Yeah, I just learned that sometimes in life things don't go right for you. It's about recovering from that, making a joke out of it sometimes.

Q. (Question regarding being an inspiration for the next generation.)
SERENA WILLIAMS: I have not seen it yet. I knew it was coming out around the Open. I'll definitely check that out.

Q. Everybody talks about the pressure. Is that something, seeing those previous players, allows you to bear this easier?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I just look at someone like Althea and Zina. Let's face it, I have it a lot easier than them. There are so many barriers that have been broken.
When I look at it in that point of view, that aspect, a whole weight is like lifted off my shoulders. I feel like I have nothing to complain about. I'm doing well and I'm really happy to be here.

Q. You have so many passions, Miami Dolphins, your foundation. Is there comfort knowing that when you decide your tennis career is done, you have all these other opportunities waiting for you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, there's a little comfort in that. Sometimes when I'm doing fashion, there's stress in that, too. Makes me want to play a little longer. Playing tennis could possibly be easier.
But it's still fun. I work really hard. I'm super hands‑on with what I do, especially in the design world. My charity, I'm incredibly hands‑on. But those things really make me happy.
I definitely look forward to, for instance, opening more schools around the world, providing more information for people, just building the Serena Williams Foundation even bigger. Those are things I look forward to. But right now I'm just looking forward to playing tennis.

Q. Ashe opened in '97, your first Open was '98. Is there certain energy you get from Ashe? What makes that a special place for you to play?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's the biggest stadium for tennis players in the world. It's the biggest stage in the world, in New York. It doesn't get any bigger or better than this. I think that kind of speaks to itself.

Q. Your new coach Patrick gets a tremendous amount of credit. Do you think your father actually doesn't get enough credit for your career?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think my father is probably the best coach ever because, I mean, if we talk about numbers, he's got a lot and he's only had two players. So, you know, imagine if he had three (laughter).
So, yeah, if you average that out, you just stick with numbers, it doesn't get better or bigger than that. I'm trying to add it up in my head. I'm thinking 18 slams, not including doubles and the medals, so it's a lot, definitely a lot.

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