September 2, 2005
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Serena.
Q. Do you rate yourself about 50% today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I guess I had to play good because she was playing really well.
Q. Where do you put your game now? You said you needed to be up to 80 or 90% to compete with Venus.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, she has a match to win, too. She's playing unbelievable. I'm just going to have to pick up. You know, each game I'm picking up the level of my play. So I'm definitely picking it up each round.
Q. What happened to Venus? How did she suddenly have this turnaround at Wimbledon?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, it wasn't all of a sudden. Venus has been working hard for quite some time to turn this thing up. She's been working hard for quite some time. She's always in the gym. She's always running miles. She's always practicing. For her, she'd practice three, four hours, if necessary. I take a different route, I don't practice as much on the court, as her. You know, she's been so serious with her tennis. It's just a matter of timing and just a point here and a point there.
Q. Do you think there was a believability factor for her, too?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I really don't know. I do things -- you know, I thought she was going to win lots of Grand Slams before that. I picked her to win the Australian Open because she was really playing really unbelievable there. I just think it was just a matter, like I said, a point here, a point there.
Q. About your form, how do you think you're playing?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I'm playing okay. I'm definitely playing better than my first match. Definitely playing better than I was even a week ago and two weeks ago. I definitely think I'm getting better and better.
Q. There's always anticipation when you might play Venus. If you do play her, can you talk about how disappointing it is that it's this early in a tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's obviously extremely disappointing to have to play my sister in the next round, if that's how it plays out. But I can't tell you the disappointment. You know, hopefully one of us will be in the quarters and we'll just have to go from there.
Q. When people are calling out, "C'mon, Serena," are you able to hear your father's voice?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I can kind of differentiate my dad's voice. I hear him over here sometimes, I could have swore I heard him on the other side. I wasn't sure if he was moving around or not. I haven't had the chance to speak with him yet. I definitely listen for it innately.
Q. Does it help you when you hear him?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it does. I mean, I think it does.
Q. You were sort of hesitant and very cautious a couple weeks ago in Toronto. You ran for a dropshot in the second set. How has there been a transformation like that? You were afraid it seemed like when you played in Toronto.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Like I said, I just needed a few more days. I wasn't quite ready. It was just a matter of a couple days of just getting it back together. My knee's definitely feeling a lot better. Toronto, I just wasn't feeling that great. I don't know the turnaround. Maybe it's been the prayer.
Q. Can you compare at all the way you're feeling playing today with the way you were playing at the Nasdaq in the spring?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I can't remember how I was playing at the Nasdaq. I don't remember being in that tournament too long. I can't answer that question.
Q. In looking at the US Open series, they have your ad here of sort of the diva. Is that an image you're comfortable with? Is that something you really like? I'm not comparing you to Mariah Carey or Madonna, but is that something you're comfortable with?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm definitely no Mariah Carey; I'm definitely no Madonna. That's for sure. To even be put in that that category is definitely kind of cool, if anything, yeah.
Q. There's been a lot of talk this week about your jewelry, reality show. There's been upset about you and Venus, some of the comments seem self-absorbed, playing to stereotypes of wealthy athletes. Can you comment about that, in light of the hurricane.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Can you as well elaborate on that for me? I don't read the press. I don't read what you guys write.
Q. One respected writer wrote --
SERENA WILLIAMS: A respected writer, mind you. Go ahead. Picking on a young, young woman, but go ahead.
Q. I don't understand what you're saying, but I'll continue, "As the rest of the country shuddered about Katrina, the Williamses fed every bad stereotype about rich, spoiled, self-absorbed athletes. You'd never know their father was from Louisiana. "
SERENA WILLIAMS: How was that? I think I actually made a very kind gesture out of nowhere. I just decided in the middle of the match, you know, for every ace I hit, I want to donate money, stuff like thaat. So I don't get that one. You know, I just think people should honestly look at themselves before they judge another person. I've never been spoiled. I've been always -- to this day, I refuse to buy a car. I want a Range Rover very bad, but I don't feel as if I deserve it. I refuse to spend the money to buy a Range -- if you look at my house, I don't have all these elaborate things that athletes have. I don't live the elaborate life. The diamonds are borrowed. I won't buy them because I'm too cheap (laughter). If you go down to my mother's foundation, our foundation, we do a lot of different things on a lot of different levels. We do the McDonald's tour. At the end of the year last year, I was completely injured. I couldn't even serve in one of the matches. It was for charity. It was for helping other people. I went that extra mile and a half each of those nights to play against Venus and put on a great show so that the people in these different cities that have never seen us play before have an opportunity to do that. That was for charity again. Like I just said, I don't understand where it's coming from. It wasn't like -- I think I was probably the first player to even say anything about donating money. This is obviously someone who maybe is upset with us on something else. Maybe we can give them an interview.
Q. I think it was more directed at Venus. You did make the gesture. Venus, when she was asked about it in this room, she said she really didn't know about it, she wasn't watching on TV, it's better not to know what's going on in the news.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Okay, well. I'm definitely here to answer questions about me. Like I said before, we're separate people, even though we do a lot of the same things, yeah.
Q. Your necklace fell apart today. You didn't. What happened there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, it just fell off at the end. I think I was running really fast and really hard. It just fell off. It didn't fall apart. God forbid, I don't want to have to...
Q. Is that from the same jeweler, on loan?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, that jeweler does not want to be named. He would prefer -- he would prefer not to be named. I don't own a diamond necklace like that. It's really hot. I really like it.
Q. It's a loner, too?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes.
Q. Will gas prices make you think twice about the Range Rover?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I know. My friend, she's in LA, she said it was $3.75. I couldn't believe it. I was like, "Oh, my God." You know, it's really incredible.
Q. I know you've talked about wanting to be a role model, being a role model with Venus, but do you think athletes of your stature do have a responsibility when there is some national or international crisis, that that's kind of part of the job description?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I say that myself and my sister have done a stellar job. I'm not trying to sit here and pontificate, but we've done a stellar job with being role models for different athletes, fellow athletes, as well as children. And just in general I think that we've never been involved in any crazy happenings. We always keep our minds level. We stay in school to this day. You know, we do things, always try to be positive, you know, in communities that we're from, going down to the Venus and Serena Williams Tennis Academy and different areas, as well.
Q. Was your father's family or anyone from Louisiana affected? Do you know at all?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, they're from more north.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Shreveport. My dad says "Lerjiana". He doesn't quite say Louisiana.
Q. As far as you know, nobody was affected?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, just a lot of rain in that area. For the most part, most of his family has moved out. But there's still some of his great aunts that live there, just a few. I know he told me that they weren't -- it was just real rainy from the outskirts of the hurricane.
Q. In other years at The Open, we've seen you outfitted as a biker chick, a cat woman. You seem to be playing various roles. Are we going to see you in another one this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've worn three different outfits thus far this year. I don't know. I'm trying to think. I'm trying to think of that box candy. Remember that candy you used to get on the ice cream truck, it was a purple thing? They're like Lemonheads. They have a purple one called grape-something. I don't remember. It's in the little box, like the Boston Bean candy. Anyway, I'm that girl, whatever the name of that box candy is.
Q. Gumdrop girl?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I can't remember. I used to love those things. Gosh, I don't know. I don't know if you guys had ice cream trucks.
Q. In today's match towards the end, there was a ball that looked like half a foot past the baseline. I think it was tied 4-4 at that point. It seemed way out. Did you have a flashback to last year when there were some bad calls?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I try not to have too many flashbacks. You know, I've tried to change the past, and it doesn't work. If there's things I could do different, I would, but you can't change the past. You've got to move -- learn from the past so you don't make the same mistakes in the present. Is that how that saying goes?
Q. Regarding your charitable effort here, have you considered adding a zero or two to the total?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I've been thinking about it, since I'm not hitting that many aces (laughter). Although I do have the rest of the year to go. You know, it's not looking so good. I might have to double it at the end of this tournament. I'll have to do something. I need to start hitting some more aces. My donation's going to be embarrassing. I think I was supposed to say -- they just told me that the designer, Erica Courtney, who designed the earrings that I absolutely adore, she has family from Lerjiana (smiling), and she -- her fiancee is from Louisiana, et cetera, but she wants to, along with me, because we were going to keep them, but she wanted to know if it was okay if we could donate them to the cause, as well. That will be a lot more than the aces thus far. I told her that's a great idea, I was willing to do that as well.
Q. Are you going to auction them?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah, that's pretty -- no, we're just going to give them away (laughter). "Here, help yourself."
Q. Take them to a pawnshop.
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, we're going to auction them off. We say we're going to auction them off on the WTA website.
Q. After The Open?
SERENA WILLIAMS: After it's all through, we're going to auction them off and go from there. That was pretty important information.
Q. How does this woman come to play such a large role? What's the connection?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, my stylist pulls a lot of stuff from her. She has some really interesting things. I always wear her stuff for different photo shoots and different things. Sometimes she gives me things. Like she was going to give me these as well, but we thought it would be better to auction it off and things like that. Necklace is totally separate. It's not the same designer. Maybe I can talk him into it as well.
Q. Are you doing anything with Jaime Foxx? Your dad said you were going to hook in with his charitable donations, as well?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't know. I'm trying to focus on tennis. I'm not thinking about any name in Hollywood right now.
Q. Where is the necklace from?
SERENA WILLIAMS: The designer didn't want to be named.
Q. What is that worth?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's 10 carats. It's worth a pretty penny.
Q. You've had so many matches against Venus, if it does come to pass, how do you prepare? Do you stop talking to her at a certain time?
SERENA WILLIAMS: When I was winning all the Grand Slams, I poisoned her food (smiling). I may have to go back and do that again. I put this little special thing in there to make her not move her feet, not run to the ball, the extra kind pill.
Q. How much better is she playing now than four or five years ago?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Has it been that long? I don't think -- I think three -- two, three years ago she was playing really awesome, but now she's just playing unbelievable. I think she's definitely if not at that level, definitely maybe even a little better. So I don't know. She's playing unbelievable. I have to be ready.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.