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March 28, 2004

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How did it feel to get through that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, didn't play very well today.

Q. What do you attribute that to?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I just couldn't get a ball in today. I just kept flying it. But it was okay. I'm glad I had that match, because I've been out of match play for a while. So that was pretty exciting.

Q. Part of coming back after a layoff like this is encountering those tight situations, the close set.


Q. How did you feel you responded?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I never felt as if I was going to lose, I just felt like I needed to win. I felt, "Okay, just right here. When was I gonna win?" Like I said, I'm glad that I had that situation. I think I had a chance to win the second; I kind of just gave it away. Gave away a lot of stuff out there today - too much. So next time I can't do that.

Q. You're okay physically? You're in with the trainer quite a while.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I definitely am. I unfortunately had to do this drug test where you're "randomly selected." Of course I never get -- it's out of a hat, and I'm never selected for the raffle thing. Of course with the drug test I am (laughing). The new rules is they won't let you leave until you complete it. So I lost so much water out there. I'm just sitting there for hours. But I'm sure I'll have to go again in like two minutes now that it's over (laughter).

Q. How did you feel your physical condition was?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know what, I felt good out there. I never was tired. I'm not tired at all. My body feels good. I'm not sore at all. I was playing a point, I'm thinking, "Okay, I'm not tired. Just try a little harder." So I felt really good.

Q. You blew through that first set and then how much of it was she was making shots or just mentally took it off?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, definitely she was making a lot of shots and she was really playing a lot better and running a few more balls down. Definitely I was missing way too many shots. Then I think I got a little unfocused because maybe I won that set a little too easy. I was just a little here and there, and I wasn't mentally there. Like I said, I just started spraying balls left and right.

Q. Now that some days have gone, you have played two matches, you are back in the activity full-time again, are you enjoying it completely? Are you thinking, "Oh, I prefer to be doing what I was doing," these kind of thoughts come to your mind?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, like I said, I couldn't wait to get back. There's other opportunities that I have to be doing other things, but I always turn them down because this is what I really want to do.

Q. Why do you think more players don't follow your lead, Venus' lead, Roger Federer's lead and keep coaching in-house?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Everyone's different. We're all not doing the same thing, so we all can't drive blue cars. We all have to think different.

Q. It seems most people need a chauffeur, they can't drive the car themselves. Do you have any thoughts on why that is?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I think it's just the way -- maybe the way different people were brought up. I know I'm extremely independent; I know my sister is. We were taught all our lives to be independent. We were never taught to rely on anyone else; you have to pretty much rely on you. You can't depend on anyone else.

Q. Has the comeback been harder than you thought, the same as you envisioned?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it's been better than I thought. I thought I would have more trouble coming back, I thought my knee would hurt. I'm really excited. I'm really happy to be out here. Yeah, it's like, okay, I thought, "Wow, I'm going to be in a lot of pain," but I'm not and that's really exciting for me.

Q. Do you feel the knee at all?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Today I didn't at all and it was three sets. That's why I said I was kind of happy that it went three sets because there's nothing like match play to work your body different ways. I had no pain, so I was really excited.

Q. Even when you fell that time?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was angry because I broke my nail. I just got a manicure so... I was pretty upset. It really threw me off (laughing).

Q. You kept looking at it.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it really threw me off there.

Q. Can it be repaired?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I have to get a new manicure, and I broke it. I've been growing them out. But I guess you got to break a nail sometimes (smiling).

Q. What were the emotions at that point? She didn't make it easy for you to finish it off. Was it frustration, anger at yourself, annoyance? What were you feeling there?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I felt I should have went for it a little more, just got a little lower, tried a little harder and hit a little harder, with more spin as well. But she came up with some good shots but I still feel that I should have just maybe got my first serve. I don't think I got a very high first serve percentage today. Actually, I got a little more first serves in.

Q. She said she sensed your court sense wasn't quite what it was.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, yeah, I kept hitting back to her. Sometimes she'd be on the corner and I'd hit it right back to her. It really annoyed me when I did that. Honestly, each match, I'm getting better. Like I said, I'm really happy to be out here right now.

Q. You're always really hard on yourself, self-critical. When you're out there, you've had some time off, are you giving yourself a little more leeway to make mistakes, or do you find yourself being just as hard on yourself as you always have been?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, no, definitely there's no leeway. You've got to work hard. I've got to be hard on myself because I think that's what got me into the top, is I can't accept anything less than the best. I got to keep it that way.

Q. You seemed to be doing a lot of sort of demonstrative stuff out there today.

SERENA WILLIAMS: A lot of...? Excuse me?

Q. Sort of body movements to make the ball go over the net.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, I've been out of competition a while. That's how I usually play. I'm real exciting to watch (laughing). I have a lot of emotion out there; I can't help it.

Q. You've said the Olympics are on your schedule.


Q. Are you concerned at all about just the security with everything being the way it is in the world and what we've been hearing, the reports out of Athens?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it is definitely a concern of mine. I'd be kind of naive to say it isn't. You've got to be really careful in the world these days. There's so much going on. It's very unfortunate, but it's just either you go or you don't go, and, I mean, hopefully I'll go.

Q. Could it keep you from going? Is it that much of a concern?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think my security and my safety and my life is a little bit more important than tennis. And so if it became a real concern to where I personally wouldn't feel comfortable, then I wouldn't go to Athens because I like my life, I like to live, you know, like waking up in the morning (smiling).

Q. Do you hope to play doubles as well as singles?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I do. I haven't played in a while, so we're really excited. We've been working on our doubles game.

Q. Can you talk about your next two potential opponents, Smashnova or Sharapova, both of those, how you match up with them.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I've played Smashnova, I think, a couple times, I'm not sure. I don't remember; it's been a while. I'm just going to go out there and do the best that I can. I guess Maria is playing well. I haven't really been following too much. She's obviously doing well. She's a very nice girl, so, yeah...

Q. Regarding what you have said before, going or not going to Athens, some people, because it affects everybody's life, some people say, "Well, 'these' people will not change my life. I will do what I have to do. Otherwise, I am changing my life because of them."

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I do agree with that to some extent. I agree that you can't stop living your life because you're scared something's going to happen. You can't allow that to happen. I've got to be able to keep moving. I'm that kind of person. But at the same time, I'm very aware of things that are going on in the world. I read a lot, so I'm very aware of a lot of stuff.

Q. Venus commented yesterday that when she tried to elevate her game, she found she was missing and she said maybe she might not do that as much. Are you having the same struggles when you try to elevate your game?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, but I don't care. If I miss and lose, I'm going to be ready for the next tournament and I'm going to tell her to make sure she has the same attitude. Because this is my first time back, and, obviously, I'm not in my best form. I actually think I'm getting better each round. I can just run all day, it seems. But, obviously, I'm going to miss some shots because I just, you know, haven't been able to hit as much as I would like to. But that's okay. If I have to miss, I'm gonna miss. I'm gonna keep going for it, it doesn't matter to me. I'm gonna just keep doing it.

Q. What was your impression of Venus' play, her match yesterday?

SERENA WILLIAMS: She had a tough round. I think the girl played really well. She came out just firing balls down the line. I was like, "Wow!" so...

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