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January 25, 2005

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: First question for Serena, please.

Q. The prevailing talk is that the Williams are "declining." Venus has lost. Do you feel you need to win this tournament to counter that sort of talk?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't -- I don't appreciate that language, to be honest with you. I'm tired of not saying anything, but that's not fair. We've been practicing really hard. We've had some serious injuries. I mean, I've had surgery. And after surgery, I got to the finals of Wimbledon. I don't know too many people that have done that. Venus had a severe strain in her stomach. I actually had the same injury, but I didn't tear it the way she did. If I would have torn it, I wouldn't have been here. That's another understatement. She played a player yesterday that just played out of her mind and Venus made some errors that she probably shouldn't have made. And to top it off, we have a very, very, very, very, very close family. To be in some situation that we've been placed in in the past little over a year, it's not easy to come out and just perform at your best when you realize there are so many things that are so important. So, no, we're not declining. We're here. I don't have to win this tournament to prove anything. I know that I'm out here and I know that I'm one of the best players out here.

Q. That was much better than two days ago on the court.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes. I definitely think it was a lot better. But it's in the past now. I'm focused on the next round.

Q. Mauresmo was injured a bit. Could you tell she wasn't moving as well?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, I couldn't tell. I was just really looking at the ball and I was trying to be focused on the ball more or less.

Q. How tough was that out there? Was it one of the hottest experiences?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It was extremely hot out there. Geez, it was like taking -- it was really hot. Was that the hottest I've been? Maybe. Maybe. It was definitely one of the hottest. Because before I think they closed the roof, so that kind of chilled it out a little bit.

Q. Do you think it's fair to close the roof when all the other players are left out to play in the conditions?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes (laughing). Because it's so hot out there. But, I think they cancel some of the matches if it gets to a certain degree and it gets too hot. I know they cancel. I know that today maybe they moved some of them back to the Vodafone arena where I think that roof -- does that roof close as well? I think it's to a certain degree they close it. I was pretty hot out there. I think we were playing above the closed-roof degrees.

Q. Would you have been happier if they closed it or do you think it gave you an advantage because you play in the heat all the time?

SERENA WILLIAMS: To me, it doesn't matter. If they would have closed it, I would have been okay. Probably would have been a little cooler. But if they kept it open, I was fine, too.

Q. You have such a good record against Amelie. Do you think you're in her head a little bit?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think when you play a person like that and they have a good record against you, I think next time she plays me, she probably feels she has nothing to lose 'cause I have such a good record. It's like, "Okay, I have nothing to lose here." In a way, it's like I have a little bit of an advantage but at the same time she does, too.

Q. You're 8-1 against her. Wouldn't she be thinking about that today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, still a little bitter about the Rome experience (laughing).

Q. What about Sharapova?

SERENA WILLIAMS: She's playing really good. She's really -- I think she's a really mentally tough character out there. So, yeah...

Q. Did you see any of the end of her match where she appeared to be laboring through the heat?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Not really. I tried to focus on my match. But I can only imagine. It was hot out there, for sure. She played three sets. So that was -- you know, wasn't very easy to do.

Q. When you find out that she was laboring in the heat, do you feel like you have an advantage in that sort of a case, because you didn't seem to be?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I just feel as if my advantage is going to boil down to me playing, you know, my shots. Like I said, if I play well, then it's hard to beat me. Sometimes I make a few too many errors, get a little excited. But, yeah.

Q. There are a lot of players that probably have a winning record against you in big tournaments, especially that are younger than you. What is your feeling going into this semifinal against Maria? Are you nervous going into the semifinal with Maria? Are you extra motivated? Where are you?

SERENA WILLIAMS: To be honest, I feel like I don't have anything to lose. I think I was way too nervous at Wimbledon. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't breathe. Sometimes you want it too bad that you just freak yourself out. So now I feel fine. I feel like I just -- I'm really proud of myself, doing pretty well with my preparation here.

Q. How are you striking the ball compared to the last few months?

SERENA WILLIAMS: A little better. My mom got on me this morning in practice and yesterday. She put a lot of pressure -- not pressure, but she got behind me and really motivated me because I think she was a little upset at some of the way my strokes were going. So she was like, "Okay, Serena, you can't do this anymore." That really helped me a lot.

Q. Was that a tough practice yesterday and today? Did she work you pretty hard?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes, yes. But not crazy tough, but more mentally.

Q. Amelie said it was tough to judge your performance because basically all you had to do was get the ball back over the net. She was only 50%. What do you say to that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, she did make a lot more errors than normal. I don't know if she ran -- I don't remember even running her that much. I know she made a ton of errors. She usually doesn't hit that many errors within two sets like that. Usually it's over three sets so...

Q. Last two matches against Amelie were very close. Were you expecting such an easy match today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I was actually expecting to play, not necessarily looking, saying, "Okay, this is going to be easy," I'm expecting to compete, be the best competitor I can out there.

Q. You play Sharapova in the next round. Do you look at that as a revenge match?

SERENA WILLIAMS: As a revenge match? No, I look at it as a chance to be in the finals here again. But I got to play that one first.

Q. Can you start to feel the tournament in your grasp at this point, now that you're two matches away?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, there's a few -- I'm two matches away, Maria is two matches away. So we both kind of have it in our grasp and we're both going to be going out there and fighting. We'll see.

End of FastScripts….

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