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March 20, 2015

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Can you just walk us through just the last day and everything that's led up to this moment?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, so I was just on the practice court two days ago, day and a half ago, yesterday, and everything was going good.  Literally last two couple minutes of practice I went for a serve and I just felt a super sharp pain in my knee.
It was like, Okay, and I served again.  I felt it again.  I just came off, and it hasn't been the same since.  I have done everything.  Like I have just pretty much done everything from taping to research and I even did an injection.  I have never done an injection before.
I think if this was any other event I probably wouldn't have considered it.  I wanted to give 200%.  It just wasn't meant to be this year.

Q.  What did the doctor say?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, it's just ‑‑ honestly it's just a question of just a little time.  It's not like I need three or four weeks.  I just really need just a couple of days and everything will settle down.
I have a tremendous amount of inflammation in my knee, and it's going to go away.  Unfortunately I just need a couple of days.
I think that's the most frustrating part, and it's going to go away in a couple of days.

Q.  Have you made a decision for Miami?  Are you waiting on that?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I'm going to wait on that.  If I'm still in pain, obviously I'm not going to play, but I still am hopeful, as I am defending champion there.
So obviously I want to do the best that I can, but right now I'm just focused on, you know, here and just staying positive for this.

Q.  Has this been a problem that's been recurring, or did it just happen that day?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  No, actually, I think throughout my career I have had ‑‑I have had some knee problems on and off, but not too much.  The past couple years have been really, really good.
Sometimes just get something that's inflamed, and unfortunately inflammation is what causes the pain.  If you can't get the inflammation out then you're going to have a tremendous amount of pain.

Q.  Did you fear the on‑court explanation?

Q.  Did you fear the on‑court explanation when you faced the crowd?  Was it eerily similar to the last time you were here, that you would get backlash from it?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  No.  I think both myself and the crowd have a great appreciation for each other, and I have really enjoyed my four matches here.  Four?  Three?  Four?

Q.  Yeah.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Four.  I have enjoyed them here and I feel they have enjoyed it, too.  It's been a wonderful time for both entities.
I didn't feel nervous about it at all.  I feel like everyone is super understanding, and it's a wonderful thing for me to be back here.  I feel honored to play here.

Q.  Top athletes have to play with pain all the time.  Why couldn't you have gone out and played through this one?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, that's a really good question, and I think most athletes do play with pain all the time, as do I, every day normally.  But I think when you get to a level of pain when, you know, you're at pretty much like a 9 or a 10 or even an 8, you kind of not want to push it because you can actually make it a lot worse.
So I think I was at a point today where I could have made it worse, because I would have probably done a lot of compensation, and then you start having problems with other parts of your body and other areas of your body.  Then you get into long‑term problems.
I think weighing all that together, it just wasn't a good opportunity for me to play.  But with that being said, I think probably 5 out of 10 matches I played injured all the time.

Q.  I didn't hear the exact diagnosis.  Is this a ligament or is it a cartilage or what was the specific diagnosis?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, no, it was just a ‑‑I have a small sprain in my...

Q.  Sprain?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Quadriceps tendon, which is inflamed, as well.  Yeah.

Q.  You have had the knee, above and below the knee, quite heavily wrapped even before you got here and here.  Was this something that was it already hurting and this was just one moment that made it worse?  It's not a new injury, per se, the last couple of days.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  That was a different injury, so that goes to say that I'm playing, you know, not at 100%.  But that actually was ‑‑it had something to do with something completely different.
Actually I was just taping it to support my knee.  That actually had gotten better.

Q.  When was it you actually made the decision that you couldn't play?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  It wasn't until after I got an injection in my knee.  I waited about half an hour and I was ‑‑because it takes about a half hour to set in.  I just wasn't getting any better.
I have been injured before in the past.  I have played in Australia where I was super injured, and in hindsight I thought I should have never played.
So then I have set different rules for myself.  Like if I have this or if I don't feel this, then I'm not going to play.  They say hindsight is 20/20.  I didn't want to be in hindsight in this moment either.  I just decided that after the injection, I didn't feel better after that, and after I have done everything absolutely everything I could, I was like, Yeah, maybe it's not in my best interest for my future to play.

Q.  What type of injection?  Was it a cortisone or what was it?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  No, it's an antiinflammation injection that goes directly into the joint.  It attacks the inflammation and hopefully it's able to settle it down.
It also has a little bit of Lidocaine in it to numb it, as well.

Q.  What do you make of the cruel irony of you pulling out of the semifinal with an injury 14 years after Venus pulled out of your semifinal with a similar problem?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I don't make anything of it.  I feel that was 14 years ago and this is now.  I did the best that I could at this event, and I really am happy to have put a lot of that behind me.
I feel like I'm so ‑‑if I would have known I had to pull out I would have played anyway just to have an opportunity to be back at this tournament and to be able to play.  Play in front of people I have never played before, kids that are nine, ten, eleven years old who has never had an opportunity to see me play.
So I think I don't look at it like that.  I try to look at in in a different light.

Q.  Do you plan to come back next year?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I think it's going to be a must.  I think it's going to be a must.  (Smiling.)

Q.  After 14 years, did anything surprise you in your return to Indian Wells?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, I saw a lot upgrading in the facilities.  I know everybody talks about how everything has been able to upgrade.  That's been really nice.  Yeah, I think ‑‑you know, yeah.

Q.  You were talking about looking towards the future with respect to your health and making this decision for down the road you don't what to compensate and things like that.  We have seen you play majors where you have been kind of physically compromised.  As you go forward, is this kind of the new mindset, that you're forcing yourself to look ahead, emphasizing the majors and your health at those tournaments?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  You know, I think everyone ‑‑personally, I think the press puts more pressure on the majors for me than I do.  I mean, I love the majors, obviously.  I really go out and I play the best that I can.
But I play the best that I can every tournament that I play.  I wouldn't necessarily be able to win the majors if I didn't do well at Indian Wells or at all these other tournaments, you know.
It's these tournaments that you're able to build your confidence so that you can win those matches in the majors.  You can't just show up at Wimbledon and just win it and not play anything else before.
So, yeah, it's important to do well in those events.  Yeah, it's great, but at some point I have to be able to play other tournaments and build confidence, as well.

Q.  How inspiring was it to come back here this year and play in front of the crowd the way you did?  Talk about the support you got in those four matches.
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, it's been incredibly inspiring not just for me, but for everyone in general.  And for sport.
You know, it's just been so amazing to come back at a place where I won my first match.  Incidentally, I went and visited La Costa and took pictures where I won my first match.  It was just so much wonderful memories at this event in Indian Wells.  So I took pictures of the court.  You know, having a long career like I have and being able to come back where I have had so much success, it's been super inspiring.
Makes me want to do more, actually.  (Smiling.)

Q.  You haven't technically lost a match, a tour match this year, not counting Hopman.  You have had some setbacks and withdrawals.  Do you feel undefeated or do you feel like this has been an up and down year?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  I don't feel it's been an up and down year.  I feel like I have had a couple of losses this year, you know, but I don't feel like it's up and down.
I have had a successful Australian Open; I have done well here.  I don't think I have played my best here, but being able to get through those matches‑‑ and I have played some pretty good opponents.  Being able to get through that I think was really good for me and good for my confidence.  Yeah, I feel good about it.

Q.  When you found out you couldn't play today, how emotional were you?
SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, I was really, really disappointed.  I was really down.  I was really sad.
But then I thought, You know what, Serena?  This is just an opportunity to be able to come back next year and be able to do better next year.
As you know me, I always want to do better and always want to be the best.  So after looking at it kind of in that way, I thought this can, you know, hopefully propel me to just focus on getting better.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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