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March 15, 2015

Serena Williams


6‑2, 6‑0

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  After all the attention on the first round, did you get relaxed and back to normal at all?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, it definitely felt back to normal out there.  Just trying to feel the rhythm and trying to focus on the ball more than anything else.

Q.  Looking back, how draining of a day was that, going through all the emotions up and down?  What was it like yesterday and coming into this match?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  You know, I don't know.  I was just really just trying to get there and just win my match in the first round.  I ended up playing a girl who was really super tricky and just really trying to stay focused, and plus all the other stuff going on.
But yesterday was super relaxing, and it was good to have a day off to have a chance to prepare for my next match.

Q.  Were you more relaxed than you thought you'd be in this second match?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Um, I don't know.  I think I was able to relax because I was able to do more of the right things and not make as many mistakes as I did in my last round.
I think with that, that helped me to be able to relax a little bit.

Q.  Many tennis experts, they consider you one of the best, if not the best, tennis player ever.  What do you think of that?
SERENA WILLIAMS:¬† Well, I always ‑‑I don't know.¬† I just ‑‑I feel like I'm just Serena that, you know, trains every day and does everything.¬† The youngest of five.¬† You know, to me, that's been able to keep me levelheaded and keep me humble.
I always say when you mention me next to the other greats, I just feel really weird for now.

Q.¬† When you look at this young group of African‑American female players following you ‑ Sloane, Taylor Townsend, Madison Keys ‑ are you awed by yours and your sister's effect on these young players?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I think it's great.  It's really exciting to see so many young black players coming up.
Hopefully they were inspired, that they had a role model to look up to, and to be someone like, Oh, we can do it, too; we can make it.
Hopefully it's been a really wonderful experience.

Q.  In this whole process since you just made the decision to come back here, what's been the most interesting thing that's happened?  Do you think it's been a growth experience for you?
SERENA WILLIAMS:¬† Um, the most interesting thing that's happened is‑‑ I don't know.¬† I think the standing ovation was amazing.¬† I really felt excited by it.¬† I think it's been a really great learning experience for everyone involved.

Q.  In what way?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Many, many, many ways.

Q.  Any sort of satisfaction or realization that a lot of people watching here have never seen you before in person?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, for sure.  That's one of the reasons why sometimes after the end of the season I kind of like to go around and go to different places where a lot of my fans haven't been able to see me.  Being able to come here, I'm able to fulfill that, as well.

Q.  You could get Sloane next.  She's up in the first set.  Can you talk about that, and also Kuznetsova if you get her?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yes, I have had some tough matches with Sloane.  She's had an interesting year, but I have noticed that she's been really playing well.  She moves well and she tries to do her best for everything.  That would be an interesting, good matchup for me.
And Svetlana always plays really well against me.  She has a really good game.  She, too, does so many things good.
So we'll see what happens.

Q.  Would you mind reflecting on the first time you won here?  When you look back at it now, you and Steffi are, by numbers, the two winningest players in terms of titles in the Open era.  That was one of the few times you played Steffi.  Can you talk about your recollections of that?  Looking back at it now, maybe the significance it has in terms of the history of the sport.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah.  It was really great to play her.  I wish we could have played again, but I only played her twice.  You know, fortunately enough, I was able to win one of those matches.
It was really one of the highlights of my career.¬† That match was really exciting for me.¬† It was one of my ‑‑it was my first biggest, big win and winning a big event.¬† It was a good time.

Q.  And at that time, what did it mean to beat Steffi?  You were a teenager and she had so many Grand Slam title.  What were the emotions of that playing her and beating her in a final?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It felt great.  I didn't expect to win because she beat me before and I was really young.  There were so many teenagers doing really well, like Hingis and my sister.  I just felt like I had an opportunity to do well.

Q.¬† Chris Evert said yesterday the fact that you didn't have a long‑term rival other than your sister early on makes what you have accomplished that much more impressive.¬† Do you wish you would have had a rival all these years?¬† Do you think it would have made you all that better?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I don't know.  I don't know how to answer that question.

Q.  Can you share what your father said to you and also what Venus said to you after the other night?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  They just said, Good job.  They were both really proud.  I was really happy that they were proud still.
But, yeah, so it was what it was, but I have kind of like really tried to zone into tournament mode and tournament focus.  That's what I'm just trying to get ready for the rest of the event.

Q.  How close to tournament mode are you at this point?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Um, I feel like I can do a lot better in terms of just being mentally prepared and mentally ready.
That's what I'm just going to try to do is just keep going.

Q.  The last couple of weeks was full of sentimental emotions.  You mentioned that you had an XO in LA before the tournament.  When was the last time you went back to Compton?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Actually it's been a while, to be honest.  It's been a little bit since I have been back.

Q.  Have you ever been to Croatia, and when will we see you playing a tournament in Croatia?  Ever?
SERENA WILLIAMS:¬† I have never ‑‑I have been to Croatia, actually.¬† I had a really good time there.¬† I don't think there are any events there, any tournament events there.¬† It was a ‑‑

Q.  Smaller tournaments, though.

Q.  Very small.

Q.  When were you in Croatia?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I was near Umag.  Yeah, it was nice.

Q.  In 2015 your schedule has been quite different from what you normally do.  You went to Australia, to Argentina for the Fed Cup, you were supposed to go to the Middle East, and now you have come here after not coming for so many years.  Can you run us through the rationale of so many changes in the way you go through your season?
SERENA WILLIAMS:¬† Usually I kind of stick with the same tournaments every season.¬† This time of year I have some time off, but then after ‑‑I needed to play Fed Cup, so after Australia I knew that I had to go to Fed Cup.¬† You know, it's just one of those things you have to play.
So I just feel like whenever the Olympics get close, the years just always change, your tournaments change, your options change, and your choices change.

Q.  Your sister already played Acapulco, Mexico.  Is it in your plans in the near future to play there?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, it's interesting.  I wanted to go there really, really bad.  I keep missing it.  I hope I can make it there next year.

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