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June 30, 2004

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Serena Williams for you.

Q. Is that the best you've played since last year's Wimbledon?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, I think I played pretty well today, yeah, but... Since last year's Wimbledon, probably for sure, yeah, no doubt.

Q. And was it related to the fact of the result in Paris, did that gear you up to play so tremendously well?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it just geared me up to know that I'm going to have to come out strong, especially in the first set, just to come out really fighting for the first few points.

Q. Are you surprised with the score and just the fact that it was a 45-minute match? What did you expect you were going to get from Jennifer?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, when you play Jennifer, you've got to come out really strong. I mean, since I've been playing her, I've been trying to come out strong, and I always seem to come out slow. So that's what I just tried to do, was really come out strong and smokin'.

Q. What did you show yourself, what you might have had some doubts about in terms of the buildup to this match, seeing all these things go right today? What were you most impressed with that you were able to do so well?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I was most impressed with I was able to retrieve a lot of balls that she hit really deep. You know, I was able to get them back. Yeah, just stay mentally focused, you know, out there. I was really wanting to stay focused because I know she's the type of player that really she never gives up and she'll want to try to come back. That's what I wanted to make sure I did.

Q. What does the rivalry with her mean to your game? How does it raise your game?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's good. It's like I know when I have to play Jennifer, I know I have to be on your toes and I have to really come out really fighting and ready or else I'm going to go home early, and I don't want that to happen.

Q. She said that because of the rivalry, because the media have been talking about it really since the tournament, it was hard to go out there and completely focus. Could you comment on that. Did the media attention affect the way you approached the match?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, I don't know. I don't really read what you guys write about the matches and stuff. I just really try to focus mostly on me, what I'm going to do, how I'm going to perform when I'm out there, because that's most important. So I try not to get overly involved with what everyone's saying, what everyone's writing about, the great rivalry. You know, I think it is a good rivalry, for sure. I think it's something that we need in tennis, in general. But I think we, myself and Jennifer, have a really good rivalry. But that's not what I'm focused on. I'm focused on, you know, trying to play.

Q. In terms of Jennifer, does it surprise you that she was thrown because of the coverage of the rivalry? Does that surprise you in any way?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, because, you know, there definitely is a lot of coverage out there. It's just that I don't -- I'm pretty much ignorant to it. I'm not paying attention to it at all.

Q. Do you have any self-doubts on the court?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I try not to doubt myself when I'm on the court at all.

Q. When was the last time you served this well, do you think?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Hmm, 76% -- 64% first serves. I don't know. It's hard to say.

Q. After all the injuries you've had and losing to Jennifer in the French, have you proved a point today? Are you back?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely think so. You know, it's been a really hard 12 months for me. And coming back to Wimbledon, you know, I'm -- I think, regardless, I just really, really am feeling really good for the first time since I've been back. And so that's what I'm most excited about. I'm bending for balls, and I'm not having any pain, I'm not even worried about feeling pain. I'm running without having any doubt in my mind. So that's been a real big plus for me - not only mentally, but physically as well.

Q. You said that you don't pay attention. But you are very well-read, you do know what's going on. It seems, at least from my perspective, that you just thrive on pressure and rivalry and tension and all that stuff. Are you saying that's not the case, that you really don't know what's out there? Or do you just thrive on that kind of attention and pressure?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I haven't read one article since I've been here about myself. I mean, the only articles I read are men's tennis because I don't want to read anything about women's, it might get me a little distracted. You know, just basically of Tim Henman. You know, that's about it. Honestly, I do not, because I did that a long time ago, way back like '99, '98, and it kind of got me out of focus. And so I said I'd never do that again. I never do it again.

Q. Did you say on the post game TV something about you've been thinking about the final since the beginning of the tournament? Am I misquoting?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, they asked me how I felt about winning, having an opportunity to win three in a row. You know, it's been something on my mind since the beginning of the tournament. But I think regardless, I'm really happy with my performance here because, you know, it's been a tough 12 months for me. And it's like I'm finally feeling much better. But my focus right now is just my next match, not the final or anything else.

Q. When you started coming back from your injury, did you think it would take this long or did you think maybe it would be a quicker process?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Naturally I think everyone thinks it will be a much quicker process.

Q. What was the hardest part, getting your confidence back or your physical conditioning back?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Hmm... I didn't struggle too much with my confidence, at least I don't think I did. Because, I mean, I came back and had a really good win in Miami. It couldn't have been any better for me confidence-wise. So that was pretty fine. Physically, you know, I never -- don't think I really struggled physically too much to get back in shape either.

Q. You don't have much of a break now. How have you found having to play consecutive days?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's okay. I mean, I think they did a really good job with the schedule by putting us first on each of the days, and then today was 12:00. It was earliest. I used to play at 1:00. It was perfect. I probably play again tomorrow, and that's fine with me. So I think I'm okay with the schedule. I had -- I look at it this way: I've had a lot of days off, so...

Q. Are you serving as well as you've ever served?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm trying to think the last time I served so well. I don't know. I mean, hopefully I will be. I mean, I can answer that at the end of the tournament.

Q. What are your thoughts on Mauresmo and that match?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, it's going to be good. I like playing Amelie a lot. And she plays well on the grass. She does well here. So I'm looking forward to playing her again.

Q. What do you like about playing against her?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. You know, some people you just like their game. I like her game.

Q. Did you do anything strategically different today against Jennifer compared to when you met in the French or did you basically play the same game, just at a much higher level?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Now, at the French I just -- I made a ton of errors, and I couldn't keep the ball in play. My game just broke down. I just wasn't the same player. So it was just a totally different time. You know, I'm just feeling better, in general.

Q. And was there anything about how you prepared yourself in the weeks between the two that you can point to and say, "That really helped"? Did it just kind of unfold or get better naturally?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I can't. I can't really say, no.

Q. Is Venus here or did she go back to Florida?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, she's in Florida. She's in Florida.

Q. Is this the first time since your comeback that you feel like all the different aspects of your game is really clicking: your serving, your defensive play? Is this match the first time you really felt like it's all come together?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think so. Even the one or two times that I came to the net today, it was pretty good. You know, I was really solid at the net, as well. So I think I felt that way against - what was it - my third-round match when I played Serna. I was feeling that it was finally coming together, just physically, just the whole game.

Q. You said before that Jennifer always fights back, you always have to keep that in mind. But today did you sense at any point in the match that, you know, she was so frustrated that she was dejected? Because it seemed that way. There wasn't that much of an effort toward the end. Or did you not feel that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn't feel that too much. I think in the last game she gave a really good effort, especially on the first point, you know. It's just that I was really fighting as well out there. Like I said, I was really focused on myself.

Q. Are you beginning to think there's no one who can beat you on grass? Or have you always felt that way?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I think everyone at some point in their career is beatable. It's just a matter of staying humble. I would like to believe that. But, like I said, you know, I have two more matches - hopefully I have two more matches to play.

Q. That was the first time that you've smiled in the press conference. Sometimes you've come through here and you've been a lot happier. Are you happy with things the way they are at the moment?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm a little tired, you know. I had a lot of press to do today, so. Y'all are killing me (smiling).

Q. Pete Sampras exuded a sort of attitude that he owned this place, owned the court, owned the grass, owned the victories at Wimbledon. Do you have a sense that you're developing that level of confidence, having won the last two, and the way you're going through the draw this year?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I hope so. I mean, Pete was my role model. I loved him, especially on the grass, he was amazing. I mean, I hope that I can feel that, especially coming to Wimbledon, this is always a place that I'll be able to just dominate here. I mean, it's one of the best tournaments to dominate at, for sure. You know, in a way I kind of feel that way because I do have a good game on grass, whether I want to admit it or not. I do, so yeah (smiling).

End of FastScripts….

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