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March 26, 2004

Serena Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Serena Williams, please.

Q. Did it feel like you were back on center court?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm... Definitely. I was out there, so I definitely felt that I was finally back, yeah, for sure.

Q. How did your tennis go compared to what you thought it would go? Did you play as well as you expected?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It was a bit windy out there so we didn't have too many long rallies. As you all know, I've never given myself 100 percent, I'm pretty much insatiable. So, no, I didn't play as well as I wanted to play.

Q. Were you nervous at all going out there for the first time?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I was very nervous going out there. I think my dad was with Venus, practicing. So I was just waiting on my own. But I was a little nervous. But then I decided that I'm just gonna go out there and do the best I can.

Q. Can you describe your costume for us?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually, it's a lovely outfit, one of the best I've ever worn. It's by Nike, of course. It's wonderful silk, actually.

Q. Silk?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's actually silk. So I have to get it dry-cleaned all the time. I have a few of them, but I have to get them dry-cleaned. I can't regularly wash them. It's a very light silk fabric. The silver part is actually very breathable and very lightweight and not hot at all. Its corset design makes me look very, very slim and trim in the waist. It really brings in your waist.

Q. Can we get one?

SERENA WILLIAMS: (Laughing) you, too, can have one. So, yeah, that describes it. I call it a "Corset Dress." Very Hollywood, very Hollywood glam with the silk.

Q. Do you call that a cumberbun around your waist?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Cumberbun? A corset, a corset.

Q. Is that the jacket?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, the jacket that goes with it also is a corset jacket as well. It's a dress, as well. Fabulous design. It's a little longer than my dress, but not much. So it kind of goes with the outfit. It's also silk with a breathable silver fabric.

Q. How much input did you have on the design?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I had a lot of input into the design, which is great with working with this team. They have this vision. They give me a sketch. I'm like, "Okay, wow, there's not much I can say because it's already so perfect." But I told them when I first met them, I said, "Look, I'm really into looking really good on the court. I don't have to be very comfortable. If you guys want to change it up and use different fabrics that a lot of players don't want to wear because they're really into the comfort and really into being able to perform, I am, too, definitely, but I don't have to be as comfortable as the next player (laughing)." They were so excited to hear that. But working with them, they actually found a fabric that was very comfortable and very breathable and very light, but still had this metallic look about it. So it was very exciting.

Q. What is your actual contribution to the design?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, I give them sketches. I make dresses. I'm a designer as well, so it works out. We're all a team and we all collaborate.

Q. How many on the team? Can you give us names?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It's a big team. There's Mindy. There's a very big team.

Q. You were talking about the wind. It's been extremely windy here. Can you elaborate a little bit about that and how it seems to be that way every year?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was very windy today. The past two days when I was practicing it was extremely windy, and I wasn't encircled in a stadium. So I heard the report it was going to be windy and wet on Friday, so I wanted to make sure I practiced a lot in the wind. I don't know why; we're close to the water. This time of year is just really windy.

Q. How hard does it make it playing?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It makes it difficult. You can't hit as many winners as you want. Sometimes you think you have a shot then it sprays on you because the wind takes it at the last minute. But you get used to it.

Q. When you first had the surgery they told us about six to eight weeks, that's what you said the doctors said. Obviously, it took longer. Have they given you an explanation as to why it took longer?

SERENA WILLIAMS: They didn't want me to come back too soon and ruin my chance of just coming back at all. Every time I would say, "Okay, I'm ready, I'm gonna go play this tournament," they'd say, "I don't think you should go because it's according to what we get..." They took more tests. They said, "We don't think it's proper." So at the end of the day it wasn't my decision. I would have been out there at the Australian Open. It was mostly the doctors.

Q. They feel now it's 100 percent healed?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm feeling really good now.

Q. Was it like you've never been away out there?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I definitely felt I've been away. I haven't been around this atmosphere in a long time. Just being around the whole facility and then going out there, people really cheering for me, yeah, so I've been away a while (smiling). I felt it, but it's good.

Q. How many butterflies?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I had a few in the beginning. Once I stepped on the court, however, they were gone. But before I stepped out, I was definitely a little bit nervous.

Q. Would you have liked your match to have extended a little longer?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Who wants to play long matches (smiling)?

Q. You served and volleyed a couple times. Is that something you're going to be working on more, doing more?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Everybody's changing their games.

Q. What do you think you did best today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: What did I do best...? I have to go back and look at the film. I think I could have done a lot of things better, actually. I think I miss-hit a few balls, I made a few errors. I think I came in pretty well, my approach shots.

Q. When you're fully fit and healthy, can anyone beat you?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm... Well, when I was fully fit -- I think I'm fully fit and healthy now. I'm just out of tournament play a little bit. But when I'm fully fit and healthy and I'm playing well, I've always said it's very difficult to beat me.

Q. Have you been following Justine's progress? Obviously, she's kind of taken over from where you left off. Are you looking forward to possibly having a match against her since she would be, I would think, kind of a yardstick for where you're at?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah, definitely. I don't care who I play. It really doesn't matter. Eventually, I'm going to have to play everyone anyway. So honestly it doesn't matter to me.

Q. Marta said she was very nervous playing you. She clearly looked nervous. From your side of the net, did you see that it was almost as if in eight months the intimidation factor hadn't gone away at all? Can you speak to that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I could tell that she was a little bit nervous. I mean, it is kind of hard to play a player that everyone's hyped up so much about the big comeback. "She's finally back, she's finally coming." Being the opponent, you kind of feel a little nervous as well, so yeah...

Q. Have you established goals for this year? If so, what are they?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I've established a lot of goals for this year. I don't relate my goals because I like to keep them to myself.

Q. What's your program, schedule?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Practice-wise, fitness-wise?

Q. Where are you going from here?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, I'm going to go compete in Amelia Island, play Charleston, and hopefully I'll go to Fed Cup. I'm really excited about that.

Q. Italy and France?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, Italy, France.

Q. As you're looking towards Amelia, do you think there will be any problem with the transition of hard court to clay there?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Hopefully not. Clay is definitely easier on the body, so it will be a great transition this year. I'm really going to do well on the clay.

Q. You've been away all these months. You're back in this atmosphere. What about it had you sort of forgotten?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Hmm... Well, I've forgotten how long it could take to play. Fortunately enough I was first on today. Usually I'm playing behind Marat Safin who's playing Fabrice Santoro at the French Open. It goes all of five sets, 7-6 in each. But this time, that's one thing I just thought about, so...

Q. What about seeing all the players? What's that like?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Obviously, seeing everyone around, it's been a long time.

Q. Can you equate the feeling you get within yourself between actually playing a match in the crowd as opposed to let's say seeing yourself in a part on TV or maybe when you're on the set?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, hmm... Both of them -- well, today, being my first match back, I would say I was a little bit nervous. I mean, first going out there. But once I stepped on the court I was okay. Watching myself on TV, the same with today, I'm very critical of myself. I like to have things really perfect at all times. So that's the same with watching myself do a role, a different acting role. I'm extremely critical of myself. But, you know, it gets better and I learn, I take notes in both scenarios. I learn from each experience.

Q. Along with your tennis schedule, you have an acting schedule? Will you be blending acting and playing?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I've had a lot of opportunities. A lot of people say that, you know, "Serena isn't serious about her tennis, she wants to go to Hollywood," which is true. I would love to get a lot of acting gigs. But you wouldn't believe the stuff I turn down because of my tournament schedule. I'm like, "Okay, I can't do that. I'm trying to play tennis here." "Gosh, that's too bad." I turn down so many different roles. I don't remember your question (smiling).

Q. That's okay. When is your next role?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, my next role? I don't know, I'm not looking to do anything right now because I'm trying to play tennis.

Q. What would be your ideal -- if you could find the part for Serena that would really...

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I would do well beside Chris Tucker, actually. I think that's my role, I think that would be my role, I would excel at that.

Q. Your dad and Venus were not watching you today?


Q. They were?


Q. Did Venus give you any advice?

SERENA WILLIAMS: She was practicing so I didn't have time to talk to her.

Q. You looked like you moved really well today. When you have a match like this, what is the toughest part of playing the matches, is it timing, getting to the balls, serving? What is it?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Gosh, I don't know. I thought staying focused, but I think I stayed pretty focused out there today. I don't know. I don't know.

End of FastScripts….

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