May 13, 2003
THE MODERATOR: First question for Serena, please.
Q. Were you satisfied, or did you think it would be easier? If you had any problems, what kind of problems did you have?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I was not satisfied. I didn't think it would be easier, I always expect a tough match out of my opponents, and I played her before. I don't know, what was the last point?
Q. If you had any particular problems.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I just had problems with the unforced errors. I think I made a little too many. It's not what I was practicing on. It just wasn't right at the moment.
Q. It was your first match on the European clay. Were you expecting something more difficult?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was, that's comforting to know that it was my first match on the European clay. It makes me feel that, "Oh, well, next time I'll do better." I didn't have a chance to practice on the court at all, so maybe tomorrow I'll try to do a little practicing on the court as well. Just take my time, make sure I stay confident, not get too upset about it.
Q. In a sense, because she was striking the ball so well, did that perhaps give you a chance to get into a better rhythm than you might have done?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think so. I think that she was striking it well and very deep. Some of her balls were off the line, on the baseline. And that was a good practice for me as well, to see that, you know, the next match I'll be ready for the pace as well as the slow ball.
Q. What was your preparation for coming over to Europe?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, actually, I worked really hard. I went over to Bollettieri's IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida. I was there for a week training on the clay, working with a lot of different guys, working hard. Then the week after I went back home to my side of Florida and I worked out again as well. Then I came here. And I played in the Fed Cup, so I've been practicing a lot, working hard.
Q. Do you prefer to practice with girls or men?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I've always practiced with guys, so I just am kind of used to practicing with them now. So I kind of sometimes prefer to practice with a guy just because I'm used to it.
Q. You still think you can beat the No. 200 in the world?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Beat the number...?
Q. 200 man in the world?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I never believed in that. I have no comment towards that.
Q. Do you have any special association with Rome? This is really where you got your big start to your year last year.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, especially on the clay court, it was tough for me to -- actually, I don't think I'd won anything on the clay before, or hadn't I? I don't know.
THE MODERATOR: No.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Geez... But I was close (laughing). But it was finally my big breakthrough. So it was great. I love it here. I had such a wonderful experience last year, and I'm hoping to repeat it again.
Q. How so?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, not only on the court, but off the court. I just really enjoyed my time here. I was going around the city and seeing Roma and the shops. I just had a wonderful experience with all the foods. That was really great and all.
Q. The gelato?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I had it... (Shaking her head.) I'm not allowed to talk about that (laughter).
Q. The forehand get at breakpoint, third game, the second set, that was an exceptional shot. You don't practice that one, do you, or is that just natural?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I guess it's just natural. I'm pretty fast, a little strong, so I was just able to go over there and get that with no problems at all. Just was like...
Q. Before this breakthrough, did you have any particular problems with European clay? Was it a puzzle at first?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, actually, I prefer European clay over American clay; I don't know why. Never had problems. I was all right with it, just hadn't played enough tournaments on the clay to have won one, I don't think. So I was perfectly fine. I have no problems.
Q. Last week when you were practicing at home, did you hit with Venus? Was she feeling better?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I didn't hit with Venus. But she's feeling a little bit better than Warsaw.
Q. In seeing the sites in Rome last year, was there anything that made you say, "I've got to go see that again"?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, you know, the usual...(laughter).
Q. Compared to last year, how would you rank your form at this moment? Do you think you're better prepared or less prepared?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm very much very well prepared. It's just timing. And I think as each match goes on -- last year, I think I played a few more matches than at this point. So as each match goes on, I'll just get a little more comfortable.
Q. Talking about men's tennis, who is your favorite player with regards to tennis, and who is the one you like most physically?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I've always enjoyed the Americans Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras as players. I used to want to be like Pete. I'm a little far off, but, you know, I tried... Other than that, I don't know. I don't really -- I wouldn't be able to -- I don't really -- I don't know.
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