September 4, 2004
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: First question for Serena, please.
Q. Could you tell us about, is it a knee or ankle? Did you do anything to aggravate an existing injury out there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I just had a problem previously. No, I've just been training on it and trying to get it better, trying to just strengthen it. I -- yeah, I was just having problems at the end because I was moving a lot and stopping a lot, yeah. It always gives me a little trouble after a certain time period.
Q. But nothing specific happened out there to make it worse?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Nothing happened out there to make it worse at all.
Q. It seemed like you couldn't find your groundstrokes at all today. Serving pretty well. You returned well. Especially on the backhand side, it wasn't you.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, because my previous three matches, I had maybe three backhands. This match, I obviously hit more backhands. It's just a change. Everyone else hitting more to my forehand. Venus was hitting more to the backhand. It was weird. But, yeah, definitely made a lot of errors.
Q. How do you compare this one to previous matches with Venus, the one in Miami, too?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't remember the one in Miami that much. Previous matches, I don't know. I guess I've won several, so obviously I played better. I don't know.
Q. What do you think about Venus' confidence? You came back in the first set, but didn't seem like it rattled her in the tiebreak.
SERENA WILLIAMS: So the question is?
Q. You had the mental edge for a long time. Do you think she's maintaining a high level of confidence against you that she can survive a tough match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think she should have a definitely high level of confidence. Hopefully next time we meet, it will be in the finals.
Q. Does it ever get easier playing her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It does, if it's later on. Early on, it's kind of very, very weird and awkward, bizarre, to say the least.
Q. With as little match play as you had coming in, was it realistic to think you could beat someone as good as Venus this early on?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely had my chances. I had a set point. I had a lot of different opportunities, so I definitely think that I had some chances that I could have cap- -- capitalized on, but I didn't.
Q. There were times during the match you looked real frustrated with some of your shot-making. How frustrated were you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I don't think I played my best today at all. I don't think Venus did either. I told her, we were talking in the locker room, just how horrible we played. I said, "You played terrible." She was like, "I know." I said, "I played much better against Schiavone." She said, "Yeah, you did." It was definitely a match that I think I could have played better, and she could have played better, and it would have been, you know... Only thing I did halfway decent was serve well, which I was surprised. Well, I wasn't surprised because I've been really working on that part of my game.
Q. Isn't that a little bit of pattern when you face each other? Maybe the level doesn't get as high as usual?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I disagree a hundred percent with that. We've had some incredibly tough matches. Some of my toughest matches have been against her. Whenever I think of playing her, I think of the Australian Open in '03. I barely was able to win that. I think of Wimbledon, both times we -- all three times we played actually at Wimbledon. Here a couple times. I think the level of play out there - because we play so hard, we hit so many winners, we go for a lot - it's like a men's game more or less when we play against each other.
Q. Do you have plans to not play again this year? Are you going to take the rest of the year off and get healthy?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I hadn't planned on taking the rest of the year off.
Q. When do you think you'll play again?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, I guess I'm due -- I can't believe I'm out of the tournament. It's weird (laughter). I guess I'm playing Beijing.
Q. Is it hard to get inspired to play her or not? Do you feel inspired against her as you do some other rivals?
SERENA WILLIAMS: If it's, like I said before, in a later round, it's obviously easier. I've never played her this early, so it's a little tough. It's very interesting.
Q. What is the feeling? How were you feeling going into the match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I just felt like I was ready. More than anything, I just wanted to go ahead and get the match over with and have everyone stop talking, you know, just go ahead and go out there and play.
Q. Earlier this week you said you felt you were about 50%. How do you feel now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm feeling a lot better. Honestly, I don't think there's anyone besides Venus that could have beaten me at this championships. I'm really feeling my shots. Honestly, I'm playing better than I had in Australia. I know it's a big statement to say, but I'm glad that I actually feel that way again because I didn't feel that way earlier in the year. Even in Australia, I didn't feel that way. I think confidence with me is the main key. And I'm excited that I actually have that confidence again.
Q. Do you think you and Venus are the best players in the world, despite what the rankings may say?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it's important for everyone to feel that they're the best. Whether I'm Venus or Serena, whoever I am, I think it's important for us to feel the best because if I don't, then how would I feel going out to play someone? I figure, "Okay, well, I'm not better than this person." That's kind of weird. Of course, I think that's the right attitude to have.
Q. Can you reflect on your year, whether or not it's lived up to your own expectations.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've had a bizarre year. Had a lot of downs. But I'm alive, I'm well, I'm happy. I stumbled and I got up. I didn't think I could get up at one point, and I did. That's like a huge step for me, and I look forward to, you know, the Australian Open.
Q. What point was it that you didn't believe you would get up?
SERENA WILLIAMS: At the French Open, yeah.
Q. How did you get up?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I just -- my physio, Kerrie, was really positive. I have a good friend. I won't mention his name if he's not in here, he's not in here, Jackie Long. He was like a really good friend of mine. My other friend Deandrea (phonetic). Yeah, I was really down and out. Venus, as well. Of course, Venus.
Q. So for a pro player to have a circle of friends to help them when they're down and out is a key factor, would you say?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's definitely a key factor. And prayer. I think God was my biggest ally.
Q. What do you think of Venus' chances if she has to play Kim, who has won five hard court tournaments this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think Kim's playing amazing. She's really doing great. She gets every ball back. But, you know, they'll both start at 0-0 and will both have great chances to win.
Q. Will you stick around in New York as long as Venus plays?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm going to definitely stick around because I'm going to be working out here still. I'm going to use the facilities to the best of my ability. I'll be utilizing everything. So, yeah, I'll be here.
Q. Our viewers in India would like to know your opinion of Sania Mirza? You played against her in Australia.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think Sania is a very strong player. I think she hits the ball very, very hard. She's obviously the best thing to come out of India. She's a nice girl.
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