April 27, 2003
CZECH REPUBLIC vs. USA, LOWELL, MASSACHUSETTS
THE MODERATOR: We're open for questions for Zina Garrison and Serena Williams.
Q. Serena, they said they were going to try to pull a surprise on you by playing someone else. I guess it didn't matter, huh?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Actually, Venus said she expected that, so... It doesn't matter. Actually, I expected to play Klara in the beginning of the tournament because I thought I was going to play her and Daja Bedanova. But it was different.
Q. Talk about your performance today, how you thought you played, how good it feels to win.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I felt I played better today, I still feel a little rusty on the edges. I think my volleys were really well. My commitment to go to the net was what I've been looking for in the past year or so, but I would still like to make more of a commitment.
Q. What does it feel like to get two wins for your team? It's been since '99 now.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it feels great. I really am happy. I really wanted to go out there and have an opportunity to win and get us to the next round and, hopefully, go all the way.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about that "us versus them" mentality, as opposed to in a tournament, an individual tournament, it's a "me against the world"?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Usually, in individual tournaments it's "me against them." I don't usually see it "me against the world." But it's different, the format with having Billie and Zina as the coaches, and all the players together, Meghann, Alex, Venus, myself, we just built this whole vibe and this whole - I don't know - this mutual feeling that we want to do well and we want to be able to have a chance to compete together. It's all about the team.
Q. Would you want to play against Italy? And, if so or if not, what would go into that decision-making process?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I would love to play against Italy. I think that's my first time in Fed Cup, was when we played against Italy.
ZINA GARRISON: Ancona.
SERENA WILLIAMS: So I would love to do that again - most definitely.
Q. Did you enjoy your experience this time around?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. This is the best time I've had so far. Just having the kids on the team, Jamea and Ally, it was a fun experience. I think they had a great time as well. So I really enjoyed myself.
Q. Talk about your first experience when you played against Italy. I know you only played the doubles, I believe?
ZINA GARRISON: No, you played the singles.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I was only supposed to play doubles, but Monica got injured so I was able to play singles. That was great. I remember I was so happy because I said, "I'm really going to show them what I'm made of." I played an unbelievable match that day (laughing).
Q. This time last year, Zina, we were all sitting here, you had lost 3-0. Just talk about the difference between then and now and how you feel.
ZINA GARRISON: Well, I think the biggest difference definitely is you see that teamwork and chemistry works. Like Serena said earlier, the fact that this team came in so very positive and was really looking to gel as a team from Billie Jean to myself to the hitting partners, we all work as a team. I think it showed. I mean, the enthusiasm has been great. They have taken on the young kids and showed them the team spirit. I think Venus and Serena, in the matches that they've played, they seem to be very excited to be out there and just play. One of the great pictures was when all four of them were holding up the flag and Billie and I were sitting on the side and saying, "This is what team is all about."
Q. Agassi just became No. 1, and you're No. 1. At what point did you realize you could beat Venus and, therefore, everyone else? When did you realize you could become No. 1?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've always wanted to be No. 1. I've always thought positive about being No. 1. I never realized that I could beat Venus and everybody else. On any given day, you can lose a match, especially if you're not focused. I think being No. 1, you have to just say to yourself, "On every match, I'm going to give 200 percent instead of just 100 percent."
Q. Zina, what did you and Billie do to foster the team attitude?
ZINA GARRISON: I think the first thing, I always believe that it starts from the top. I think Billie feels the same way. The fact that Billie loves other team sports, I think that helps so you know the mentality that it takes to be a team sport. The thing about tennis is we do do everything individually. I think Serena watches a lot of sports and Venus and everyone, so I think that helps to come in and know what you're expected to do as a team player.
Q. Serena, after Belgium won today, Kim said that if they get through the quarters and you guys do, that she and Justine would really look forward to playing you guys. What do you think about that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That's just looking too far ahead; really it is. That's to November. I'm not really thinking about that. That's just... you know...
Q. From an excitement standpoint in tennis, do you think that would be a good thing, for you and Venus to play Justine and Kim?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Sure. Like I said, I don't know. I'm not thinking that far ahead.
Q. Are you thinking ahead toward the French Open at all?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I'm not thinking at all (laughing).
Q. Are you going to take anything you've learned this week into practice with you to prepare for that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Most definitely. I'm going to go home and contemplate and visualize everything that Zina and Billie have been able to tell me and try to focus and make sure I'm in the best shape that I can be in mentally as well as physically, and get ready to try to defend my title in Paris.
Q. Zina, yesterday Serena mentioned the idea of bringing tennis to different places like here and elsewhere. Can you talk about the work she and Venus do as ambassadors for the game, in addition to the way they play?
ZINA GARRISON: Yeah, I think they have been great ambassadors for the game. They basically have helped people realize that tennis even is there and put it on the map. I think the great thing, they have crossed a lot of barriers, but the barriers for sure that they've crossed, they've been on magazine covers that a lot of tennis players dream to be on. They've been on them a couple times now. But I think the biggest thing is like the clinic that we had the other day was unbelievable. To see those kids react to Venus and Serena and Meghann and also Alexandra was wonderful. To have I think over 1,100 kids to come out, watch play, these are the kids that we want to be able to grasp and understand that there's tennis out there and maybe one day they can get a college scholarship or be a Venus and Serena or Meghann or also Alexandra.
Q. Following up on that, two years ago Venus came to the Sportsmans Club for the first time. Would you be willing to come back to the Boston area for such events?
ZINA GARRISON: I come all the time, so you need to ask Serena that (laughing). Let me say this, the history of the Sportsmans Club, I became a professional tennis player because I met Althea Gibson there and trained with her. It's a long history for inner-city kids. I guess it's up to you, Serena.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's always good to see inner-city kids get involved in sports such as tennis. It really made me feel special and kind of warmed my heart to see some of the kids out there playing - and not just playing on a very basic beginners' level, but some of them were actually able to hit rallies and keep the ball in play and actually really enjoy it and wanted probably to go further with it. That alone was really, really exciting for me to be able to have the opportunity to see that.
Q. Zina, how important is it for Fed Cup overall to have the star players commit to the competition?
ZINA GARRISON: I think it's very important. I think it's very important for the fact that, you know, there is tradition. But it also will help people make sure that -- to understand the difference of Fed Cup and Davis Cup. A lot of times when you talk to people, the first thing they say, "Do the women have anything like Davis Cup?" But with Venus and Serena on the "Boston Globe," on every page, and Fed Cup with the name behind it is only going to help put the name on the block again.
Q. Serena, when you and Venus first started playing, people sometimes thought you were twins and yelled, "Go Williams." Do you sense people are starting to tell the difference and really develop a favorite Williams sister that they root for?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I don't know if they've developed a favorite Williams sister. Maybe, who knows?
Q. Serena, just coming out, you had lost to Justine a few weeks ago before the time you came in here and played fairly well. Talk about the rest of the year, how you think things are going to go.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Things are definitely going to go well. I'm definitely going to be pretty focused and pretty serious about my tennis. I hope things go well, as long as I stay injury-free.
Q. Do you have any anxiety about defending Roland Garros, or is it just another Slam for you to defend now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't have a desire to -- anxiety. I have desire (smiling). I don't have anxiety, because I'm going into Roland Garros thinking, "I want to win another Grand Slam. I don't want to defend, I just want to win a Grand Slam." I think if you go in tournaments trying to defend, you can get too much pressure on you. But I would like to go, and win Roland Garros, not to defend my title. I just want to win, have that opportunity.
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