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August 29, 2005

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: First question for Serena, please.

Q. Is that the way you wanted to start, a relatively quick match?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It was definitely relatively quicker than the other matches I had, so it's a decent one, yes.

Q. How are you feeling? Injuries?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm feeling really good. I'm just -- I'm not feeling too much pain out there at all.

Q. Is it good to be back?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It is, yeah. There's no better stage than the US Open for me. I definitely love it.

Q. Can you talk some about your serve today and how it's coming along.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven't seen the statistics for it, but I don't think I made that many first serves. But it's so much better than I've been hitting in a while and it's definitely going faster and there's definitely a lot more pace. I'm feeling a lot more confident in the serve whereas I'm actually going for bigger serves. So that's cool in a way. My second serve is back to in the 90s, so that was really cool as well?

Q. And her second serve didn't have much on it, to the point that it seemed to kind of throw you once or twice. Is that fair to say?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It definitely threw me a few times. I was like, "Okay." I actually -- I don't know, I told my hitting partner to hit me some easy serves. I was like, okay, maybe I should just work on it. I'm glad I did. The 69 ones kind of threw me off, but other than that, I was able to do a little bit better with that.

Q. What was your reaction when you saw the draw this year?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, you know, I was really, really upset, but I realize I have to focus on my first round, and, you know, hopefully I'll get there and beyond.

Q. Were you laboring at all early in the second set? It looked like you lost focus or got tired?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn't get tired at all, I think I just started out flat. Maybe I was thinking about something else. I just was really flat. I knew it. I was like, "Serena, get more pep in your step." Once you got down, I just got a little more footwork. I was just flat for some reason.

Q. When did you take your earrings out?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I don't remember. I think it was in the first set I want to say.

Q. How come?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, one fell, and so I didn't put it on tight enough because I was rushing to go out. So I was hoping it wouldn't fall, but I knew in the back of my mind it would, and it did. I was like, "Okay, I'll just put them on earlier in my next match."

Q. Have you ever worn a pair of earrings like that on the court before?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I wore 5 karat diamond earring studs at Wimbledon. That was pretty hot. And here, these are more chandeliery, in-style.

Q. Was it a concern when it fell out?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, when it fell out, I was like, let me just -- I should have put it on better. I was rushing and I forgot about them. I was like, "Okay."

Q. What are the stats on those? What are the karats, dollar sign?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's 40,000. Earlier this week I was wearing a 33 karat black diamond ring on loan. I had to give it up. But I think I'm going to get it. I was so in love with it. And these are -- I think they're like 15 karat, or something like that, they're really hot.

Q. Are you going to try to play with the earrings in the next match or is it impractical?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, what happened was I was rushing at the last minute because I forgot to put them on because I was stretching and stuff. I was like, "Oh, my earrings." I'll just put them on earlier, it will be better.

Q. Is wearing the earrings part of being on stage here at the US Open? Is that why you brought something so special for this tournament?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was definitely something really special I wanted to do. For me it's the biggest stage. I love playing in New York. I love the US Open. I love the court, I love everything about it. Except sometimes the line calls, but other than that (smiling)... It's a great place to be at.

Q. Is it still fun for you to play here?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It is. I mean, every time I walk out there on the court, it's different. Sometimes in practice it gets a bit redundant, I must say. It's like, "Okay." But the moment I walk out on the court, whether I'm in Canada, because I was in Canada -- it doesn't matter what city I'm in, I just feel totally different walking out there and just realizing how much I do love to perform.

Q. You mentioned line calls. There was a certain chair umpire who will not be attending this year. Any thoughts?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I was unaware of it, but I can't say I'm sad (laughing). I can't necessarily say I'm very disappointed.

Q. What did you do between Toronto and here to feel better about your leg?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I just kept strengthening every day. I didn't take a day off. It was really time-consuming. That was the number one, two, and three priority for me, was to just keep strengthening my leg. That's what I was able to do. I just needed a little more time - not too much more, but just a little more - and I was able to get that.

Q. It seemed like there was negative crowd reaction when you were asked about the earring and bling. Was that unfair?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, the guy said, is it Mike? He just said my bling was more money than the young lady I played. And so, I don't know, maybe they were like -- I guess New Yorkers are trying to be fair. In all fairness she was only 16, so when I was 16, I think I lost in the first round to Ann Miller 6-1, 6-1. I'll never forget that.

Q. How do you see her performance today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think she had a very solid performance. She had a very solid performance. She's really young so she can definitely take this match and build from it.

Q. You mentioned the draw and how upset you were. Can you really put that out of your mind? How do you approach that it could be so soon that you play Venus?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it definitely could be very soon, but the only way to think about it is, uhm, you know, just play to get there, don't go out before. That's all we can do, you know. There's nothing else I can do except get back to 1 and 2 in the world.

Q. She was probably upset, too. What did you guys say to each other?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven't said anything to her about it, actually.

Q. This is the US Open, so obviously stuff happens. Justin Gimelstob recently wrote that in tournaments where there are both the men's and women's circle that... you're smiling already... that the women players have to compete for the most beautiful 1%?

SERENA WILLIAMS: The most beautiful 1%?

Q. Of the creatures on the Earth, men's players, wives and the girlfriends. Is that a silly comment?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't understand the comment.

Q. He said in the player lounges, women players who come off court and who are athletes and sweaty have to compete with the girlfriends and wives of the men's players who are extremely attractive.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, they're always models. The guys like to date models. I'm not competing with nobody out there (smiling). There's no competition that I'm in.

Q. Are you saying you can hold your own, is that what you're saying?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Hey, I'm not in the competition (smiling).

Q. Do you play into a stereotype, his comments?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, they always date beautiful women, for sure. It's always a model or something. I'm no model.

Q. But you've always been proud of your body?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm definitely, you know, excited about my -- I've always accepted my curves (laughing). There's nothing I can do about it, so I've learned to accept it and live with it. I mean, I read an article in USA Today that was talking about these new ads. Nike had this new campaign. I told my Nike representative, "Why didn't you guys use me for this?" It was a joke, but it was about curvey women. Like I said, I'm not in the competition.

Q. Much has been made about the decibel level of the grunts, especially around the Grand Slam time. Why do you grunt, and how does it change throughout a match?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, I grunt -- I don't know. I just, honestly, when I was younger I used to love Monica Seles, she was like my role model. I loved her game. I loved her grunt. So my grunt is kind of like hers a little bit where it's like a double-grunt, instead of just like one long one, it's like two of them. I don't know why I grunt. Grunting actually is a way of breathing. That's how I'm breathing out instead of going... I'm actually grunting to get the air out.

Q. Did you practice it?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, I don't remember. I don't think so. I don't think so.

Q. Are there times where you think that your work like on the reality show and your interest in movies and fashion, that it actually gets in the way of the tennis playing? Have you found a balance yet?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, I definitely have found a balance. I've had so many offers in the past to do different movies or, you know, different things, and I always chose tournaments over it. So I definitely -- and practice over all that stuff. So it's important to find that balance, and I finally found it.

Q. You said a couple weeks ago that when Venus won Wimbledon, it got you more determined to come back. Is that the way you feel coming into this tournament?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely do. No one gets me more motivated than Venus because I don't want her to catch up with me yet. She's at five now. I still have seven. So I got to keep ahead.

Q. Do you think you might play more tournaments next year to try to get your ranking up a little higher so that fourth-round potential matchups are a thing of the past?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Absolutely and I'm going to definitely go for that, as well as I might play a little bit more in the fall, just go out there and just start playing matches.

Q. What is your thought on instant replay?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Instant replay, I would have used it today to see. I think I hit a serve that was in. But hopefully, I think it's the future of tennis for sure, and it's just a matter of time before it's introduced at different tournaments. But it's definitely the future and it's definitely coming soon.

End of FastScripts….

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