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March 25, 2005

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How satisfied were you with that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I was very satisfied with that win, I guess.

Q. Was it frustrating at the end to close out that first set?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was. I was just making errors and I should have did some things different. I did eventually close it out.

Q. How is the fitness?

SERENA WILLIAMS: How is the fitness? Good. I'm feeling good out there, yeah.

Q. Is that because you're very happy in this environment?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I guess I'm happy in the environment. I have a lot of friends out here. I'm in good shape, so...

Q. After three years, you figure that this is like your championship?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's always up for grabs. I'm here once again to try to defend it.

Q. Do you know anything at all about the girl you play in the next round?


Q. The young Israeli girl here, Shahar Peer.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Maybe. I think I heard of her. I think I've seen her play. I think I've definitely seen her play. Yeah, I've seen her play.

Q. We've heard lots and lots about your upbringing. She comes from a West Bank settlement in Israel. She's pretty tough.

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know what, I'm ignorant to the whole West Bank settlement of Israel. I'm American. Can you elaborate on that, please.

Q. It's a dangerous place to live.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Is it, hmm. I'll have to look more into that. I mean, unfortunately, like I said, I have no idea. I'm totally blind to that right now. I would have to look into that more.

Q. Would you recognize her if she came walking past you in the players' lounge?

SERENA WILLIAMS: There's a lot of people that I wouldn't recognize so I can't, you know -- there's just a lot of people. Especially now because there's so many new players coming and doing so well, so... But, yeah.

Q. Anything that makes it really interesting for us or the spectators that you have new players coming where you, you know, which are maybe not that well-known but show great ambition?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely think it's very interesting to play different players that I've never seen. I seem to play a lot of players, a lot of different players that I've never played before. It's good because it keeps everything interesting.

Q. By the same token, Kim is back, Justine got back today. How do you see next year going at the very top of the game?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, as long as all the players are able to stay healthy and, you know, get back. You can't come back all of a sudden. It definitely, I think, takes a little while to get in shape. But if you're working hard, you should be able to come back fast. I just think it will be great for the game again.

Q. Is this competition more than what you expected for this first round?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Definitely, no, I knew she was a tough player. Almost played her a few times but then we never met so I've been meaning to play her for a while now.

Q. Does she have much potential?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think she has great potential. She's a great fighter. I believe she's young, is she young?

Q. Yes, 17.

SERENA WILLIAMS: So she's doing really well, and she's a fighter and a hustler. She's gotten better already in a year.

Q. May I ask you about your thoughts about Amelie as a player, Amelie Mauresmo as a player and a person, what you know of her, what you think of her.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think, you know, obviously she's been doing really well as a player. She wins a lot of Tier II's and Tier I's as well, hasn't quite been able to win that Grand Slam. She's almost there. I think she'll definitely get there sooner or later.

Q. The fact that she got to No. 1 without winning a Slam, can you reflect on that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, you know, she won a lot of tournaments. I think Lindsay was No. 1 without winning a Slam last year as well. It goes to show you if you play a lot, then, you know, you can be No. 1. But I want to win Slams.

Q. How important is the No. 1 ranking to you at the moment? Is it winning Slams or the No. 1 ranking?

SERENA WILLIAMS: For me, the No. 1 ranking is obviously really important. I would love to be No. 1, but at the same time, I would love to win Grand Slams and keep going because I always said, if you win the Slams, then the ranking will come.

Q. How much does the crowd affect you when you're out playing? Do you ever pay attention to it, do you block it out totally, the calls, the cheers?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know. I try to block it out. Sometimes you hear what people are saying. For me, I'm just fighting, you know.

Q. I wanted to ask you about your other career. I was reading an excellent book on the biography of Althea Gibson. Although your sister looks more like Althea than you do, but since you're the actress in the family, I thought who could play it better than you if it were a movie? Has anyone approached you about doing something like that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think physically Althea -- it would be a great challenge for me because I guess I would have to get in different type of shape, maybe lose a little muscle mass. That would be exciting to play that role. Actually, I think it would be fun. It would be a great role for me to play. I've never thought about that, actually. I should probably try to get in on it, you know, because actually I would really do well in that role. I would excel because I obviously play tennis and I'm obviously an actress, and I think it would, you know, it would be hot and it would really be able to stretch my acting because Althea went through a lot as well off the court, and then she was playing golf and stuff like that. I would love, love to do that.

Q. Did you read that book, the book was called, "The Match"? It is about her friendship with Angela Buxton.

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I didn't read it. I didn't read it. Who would play Angela Buxton?

Q. Well, the author told me he hasn't been approached about doing it as a movie. It was something that was on my mind. He said Venus would look more like Althea, but you're the actress in the family.

SERENA WILLIAMS: (Smiling) Venus, I don't know, maybe she acts as well so, you know... But we would go out and test for it. Hopefully I'd get the role (laughing).

Q. There's been a lot built up about your outfits. How much of that plays -- do you just let it by?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I just let it by and I just play tennis. People are always speculating on what I'm going to wear next, so we'll keep watching. I like to make people guess. It's fun.

Q. Last year you came back after a long layoff here and you did very well. What's the last part of a player's game that gets back into sync?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I would say the mental aspect because, you know, I was winning, but it's like getting back in that mental stability thinking, "Okay, right here I'm going to focus on this point." Because you know which point you want to focus on. So just later last year, and during the California swing of tournaments, I finally was in that mental aspect thinking, "Okay, this point right here." I was like, "Oh, I forgot that I used to do that." I forgot that was what I used to do to stay focused on the court. I would say that takes the longest.

Q. How much better shape are you than you were a year ago?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Last year I wasn't in shape at all. I was just here on a wing and a prayer.

Q. You say you weren't in shape. When I'm looking at your muscle tone, your serve and your stamina, the long periods, long matches, you seem to outlast players.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know. I guess mentally I was in shape. I was like "Okay, I'm not going to get tired." But it was hard because it was hard for me to run and do things to get in shape last year because I had knee problems. But, you know, this year has been much different. I'm just so excited that I'm not having those issues right now.

End of FastScripts….

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