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April 1, 2004

Serena Williams


P> THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Do you sense the momentum building for you?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, I guess. I'm just playing my matches. Ready for my next match.

Q. Was today progress?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Today I digressed a little bit, I went backwards a little bit. I didn't play so well. But, you know, it's okay. I can't look in the past. I'm only looking forward to see what I can do better in my next round.

Q. Did you expect to reach the final in your first tournament back?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I always expect the best of myself. I can't say that I didn't expect to reach the final. I do know what I didn't want to do is lose in the first round of my first tournament back. I wanted to have a steel, strong present. I think that's really good.

Q. What in her game gave you problems today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I made a lot of errors today. She's up, she's improved a great deal, her serve especially. She's really, really, really improved. I just kept making mistakes. She ran a lot of balls down, too, so she was doing really good.

Q. You said after the match on TV you said your movement wasn't up to par today. Why is that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know. Just slacking off a little bit today. No need to make excuses.

Q. Is it consecutive matches? Are you feeling tired from that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, no, I'm not tired at all. I just... I don't know.

Q. When you've had a layoff like you've had, is it almost the mental part of the game in the matches, the most difficult, because you can't really simulate that when you're in training?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I thought it would be -- most of the time when I take off from Wimbledon I don't play a game until the LA tournament. Usually it's more mental. But, now I thought it would be more mental as well, but I think I'm pretty much able to close them out. I think I'm not selecting my shots as well as I should be. I didn't play that many points off, I just practiced and practiced and drilled and drilled. I didn't play too many points out or any sets at all. So I think that next time if I'm going to take some time off, I'm going to try and do that.

Q. What do you know about either of your potential opponents?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Played them both, so I have a pretty good knowledge of what they're going to play like, especially playing me. I think I'll know what they'll play like, so that's always good going into a match.

Q. You haven't played a night match here yet. What do you make of that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I've just been fortunate enough to play during the day. It's been great. Maybe they're trying to wear me out with the sun, but... (Smiling). I just so happen to love the sun. I was really excited. I was nervous, I thought I was going to have to play tonight, but I didn't. I was going to watch "The Apprentice," that's my show. I'm a reality freak. And, you know, when I heard that I might be playing a night match, I was so nervous, just thinking to myself, "Oh, my God. Do not play me at night. Do not play me at night." Thank God I didn't, so...

Q. That's tonight?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Of course, tonight.

Q. Why do you like that show so?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I am a reality just -- I was really into "Top Model." I started out with "The Bachelor" a few years ago here. And ever since then, I don't know, I just like, "You're fired." I've watched it since the first episode. I was like, "Oh, wow, this is a good show." I'm really into all the reality shows.

Q. You don't have Tivo?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I like to see them live. It's not fair, a tape delay. People already know what happened. It's not fair. I feel cheated (smiling).

Q. Who are you pulling for?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I like Bill. I like Bill a lot (smiling).

Q. How do you explain someone like yourself who your whole life is a reality show, you've got cameras following you around 24-7, why do you like watching other people living that life?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know, just, I guess, because it's like you can really see the reality of things, how it's going. I mean, a lot of stuff is cut out, and you really -- can't really see it all. But I just think it's fab. It's not good for us actresses and stuff, it's tough, but I figure we can enjoy it while we can.

Q. What would we see from you if you were unedited and we followed you around 24 -7?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It would be a really exciting life (smiling). You guys can't believe the life I live. I'm so busy, I never stop. I don't even like getting massages because I'm always going. I'm like, "I can't stay. Okay, I need five minutes." I got to move, I got to move. I'm always moving.

Q. You were serving for both sets; you got broken. Was that nerves, mental, rust? What was going on there?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I might have just collapsed. Maybe got a little too comfortable, figured I'm up 5-3, "I can close this out." You can never get comfortable. You've got to keep moving your feet, keep motivated. I think I let myself down. I'm glad it happened because now I know not to do it anymore.

Q. You're pretty happy with your serve otherwise?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Otherwise, yeah. My first serve percentage today, I think, was a bit low. But, I mean, considering, I mean, the amount of time I spent off, I didn't really work too much on my serve -- I worked hard and a lot on it, but not as much as I wanted to. So I'm pretty impressed.

Q. You had back-to-back aces there. She handed the racquet to the ball boy. What was your reaction when she did that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: "Hit another ace."

Q. You think you played better today when you were angry?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I had to get myself motivated in some kind of way. I was like, "Okay, Serena, this is outrageous. You need to get your feet moving." I just was being lazy out there.

Q. How much of a confidence boost is it going to be for you if you're able to wrap up this title sort of going into the rest of the season?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think as far as I got right now, it's a major confidence boost regardless to what happens. Honestly, I think that, physically, it's just a great boost. Mentally, it's awesome to be in the final here my first time back since Wimbledon. It's great. And, you know, I just really, really am proud of myself because it's hard to come back. It's nerve-wracking. I kept saying, "Okay, I'm not ready," and I wanted to make sure when I came back that I would be able to do well. So I'm glad that I was able to wait.

Q. How far back would you say you are from your injury, would you say, 100 percent, what percentage?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I hope and I like to believe I'm 100 percent.

End of FastScripts….

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