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January 29, 2005

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Just to remind you, when Monday's rankings come out, Serena will be ranked No. 2. She'll be the first player in history to move outside the Top 5 into No. 2 in the world after a single tournament. She's only the second Grand Slam champion ever to come from matchpoint down to win two Grand Slams. The other was Margaret Osborne duPont. First question.

Q. You've declined beautifully. Congratulations.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I've declined? Thank you (smiling). I appreciate it. This is one way to decline.

Q. Very fashionable way to decline?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It is a very fashionable way to decline.

Q. How did you do it?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I just -- I just did it. Like Nike said, "Just do it."

Q. You took a time-out. Let me ask about the injury.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, what happened, in the first point in the first game, I was down breakpoint. Lindsay had me running from side to side. At one point I reached for a backhand and I think it tweaked my back out, one of my ribs out. For the next few games I was completely out of it. I had to adjust. Then I finally decided, "Okay, why don't you call for the trainer and see if she can put it back in place." She did, and everything worked out.

Q. Did you ever think you might at that point have to give up?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I never, ever think that I have to give up, in the most dire situations.

Q. Do you feel it was a matter of her putting up less resistance once the tide had turned or you actually lifting your game so much that it wouldn't have mattered?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm not sure if she put up less resistance or not. I think she was fighting herself. It's the final of a Grand Slam. So I think we both were fighting out there. I just -- I just said, "Okay, I got to just do a little bit better here."

Q. In the fifth game of the second set that you started to hit the ball that much harder, I mean, did you take something in the injury time-out that took 20 minutes to work or what?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, at that point I just did not want to lose that particular game. I was serving so many balls my arm was hurting. I said, "I don't care if my arm falls off, I'm not going to lose this game." I just kept going for the serves and I just kept fighting. I knew that that was a very pivotal game. For some reason, I just felt it, I said, "Okay, I need to win this one."

Q. I know you're always saying you have nothing to prove, but what does this win say about you?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, I'm excited to be No. 2 now. It's been a long way coming back. I'm almost to my goal, and it feels great. And this Grand Slam win, obviously, is great for me. You know, I feel good. I'm at No. 7 now. I'm like, "Yea, I feel so excited to be here."

Q. Do you have a feeling that you are the No. 1 if you beat the No. 1 like this?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Not yet. I haven't played enough tournaments yet, but I really feel that I'm doing the best that I can and I think it will all pay off. Eventually I'll be where I want to be.

Q. Is it a particularly sweet victory, given the fact that you and Venus have obviously got a lot of criticism lately on your way back?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Definitely. That makes it that much sweeter because people are always wondering about what's happening to us. It's nothing. We're working really hard and we just -- the matches we lose, it's just maybe because of a few points here, a few points there of not playing well but we're really in it. It's just, you know, we're excited to be back.

Q. Is this an ongoing stepping stone then?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm... I don't know. For you guys maybe it is. But for me, I've always considered myself the best and the top. I never considered that I was out of it - ever.

Q. Coming back from the trainer, did you have any trepidation about having the full range of motion in your back or anything like that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I felt that I would be able to eventually get the full range, although I was a little bit nervous, but not quite. I thought I just wanted to give a better effort out there.

Q. Was there a point after you came back from the trainer where you realized, "Now I'm okay, I'm 100%"?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I just realized that I was okay mentally. You know, my mind, everything was working. So I figured that was enough.

Q. What did you feel happened to Lindsay when she was leading 40-Love on her serve at 3-4, and she'd won the first set, then she lost 10 points in a row?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think -- honestly, at that point, I had gotten used to her serve finally. I started playing better. You know, I think she tried -- it's not like she gave away the points at that point. I think I went out there and I won the points and I was getting her returns back better at that point. So, uhm, that's all I can say about that.

Q. Was the rib hurting you on every shot before you went in?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Not in the first game, until that last point. And then after that, it was hurting me like on -- mostly on some of my backhands and my serves. After that, I just fixed it. After the trainer fixed it, it was much better.

Q. How do you consider this time from the last Grand Slam you won on this one? I mean was a vacation, a day off, what?

SERENA WILLIAMS: The last one I won I think was Wimbledon and that one was exciting and fun. I love winning Wimbledon. I don't know. I feel that I need to win the French because I've won two of each already except for the French. I've only won one. So I feel that, "Okay, I need to win another French Open so I can even them out."

Q. With the trainer, was it manipulation to guide whatever was out in?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I mean, I think so. I guess so. I wasn't nearly as stiff, and I didn't feel a little pain when I turned. So it definitely felt a lot better.

Q. Was there an element of shock when you initially felt it go in that first game, that, "Here I am on the biggest stage and I've got some pain"?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, because I had some pain before and I just felt that, "Okay, well." I was a little disappointed but then I thought, "Okay, this isn't the end of the world. This isn't even the end of the match." I just decided I needed to pull my game together a little bit. She was really attacking some short balls, so I decided maybe I should try to hit a little deeper.

Q. Did you have to win that fifth game, six deuces or six breakpoints, eight deuces, 12 minutes? Was that the turning point for you? Otherwise you're down in the second set.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I don't know if it was a turning point. I believe it was because I think I would have been down 3-2. But that doesn't mean I would have gave up. I would have been fighting to win the next game. I would have been fighting even harder to do everything I could to win the next game. So maybe it was a turning point. But either way, I would have still been like, "Come on, let's get the next game."

Q. So when you hurt yourself, you weren't thinking, "Here we go again, here's something else to take me out," or were you thinking, "This is something I can work through"?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I thought that for a split second, then I told myself I couldn't have those negative thoughts and that I was still in the match. I said I'm still like I was before I got out here, you know, I'm still two sets away from, you know, winning the Australian Open. So I just looked at it that way.

Q. As players get older, often they get more popular, crowds warm to them. Outside the US, do you think this is the warmest you've ever felt a crowd to you?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Definitely. I felt a little weird. Even in my semifinal match, I realized they were really rooting for me. I was usual -- usually, before, they were really rooting for the other person usually to win, maybe because I was winning all the time. I don't know. So I don't know how that works. We'll see later on how that works, if I keep winning. 'When' I keep winning, see how that will be.

Q. The trainer obviously did a terrific job. Was it manipulation or massage?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Did you guys talk with her?

Q. No, not yet.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm not quite sure what it was, to be honest with you. I wasn't doing it.

Q. Did a good job?

SERENA WILLIAMS: She did a great job, definitely. I mean, I'm working and have the trophy right here, so it's perfect.

Q. She gets a bottle of champagne or something?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Maybe, huh? I didn't think about that.

Q. Do you feel anything now? Is it totally gone?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Maybe a little bit, but it's okay. I mean, I'm happy. I don't need to feel anything right now.

Q. When you thanked your mother, I don't know if you saw her, but she kind of rolled her eyes. What was that about?

SERENA WILLIAMS: She always does that. That's her way of saying -- she's really shy. That's her way of saying thank you. Plus, we have like this inside joke kind of sort of, so that's all that was.

Q. Speaking of champagne, what's on the agenda tonight then?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, tonight... I don't ever celebrate. Like when I first won the US Open, I went to the movies (smiling).

Q. What was the movie?

SERENA WILLIAMS: The movie, "I see dead people." I remember. What was that? Sixth Sense.

Q. What about tonight with the family?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. Maybe I'll go get something -- I'm not heavy on any alcohol, so that won't be a part of the agenda (laughing). But I don't know. I'm not -- like I said, I'm not big on the celebrations. Maybe I should be. I don't know why.

Q. What is it about here? What is it, 14 matches in a row, you haven't lost since 2001. People miss the fact there's something about this place that's conducive to winning?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I think it's my hitting partner. Ever since I began hitting with him, Mark Hlawaty. I mean, it started in Perth. I hit with him in Perth. Then he came here, haven't lost since. So definitely keeping that.

Q. How does it feel like winning now from the position of the underdog more than before when you were the favorite? Is it more satisfying for you?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I was looking at the bets and I think I was the favorite going in here anyway. But it was cool 'cause even though I was like -- I had 7 by my name, I felt as if I didn't have anything to lose, I didn't feel any pressure on me. Honestly, I was really feeling my game and my shots anyway. I felt I was going to be fine. It's fun sometimes to be the underdog but I obviously prefer to be on top.

Q. More satisfying?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think winning any Grand Slam is satisfying.

Q. What's on your schedule from here?

SERENA WILLIAMS: From here I go to Paris to play the Paris Indoors. I'm excited. I really like that tournament. And I don't know. After that I go to the Middle East. I've never been there, in Dubai. I'm looking forward to that one.

Q. Then Miami?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Of course, Miami.

Q. Fed Cup?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm saying yes now because it's in Florida. It's 10 minutes from where I live. I'll get practice matches and great practice, and it will be perfect. So I would love to -- I think I really am going to play Fed Cup. I look forward to it.

End of FastScripts….

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