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January 28, 2016

Serena Williams

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

S. WILLIAMS/A. Radwanska

6-0, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How would you assess your own game? Do you think you're getting better with each match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I played well in the beginning, especially in the first set. I was able to do everything that I needed to do. I was really hitting just all the right shots, making little to no errors, which is kind of hard to play like that. But it was good.

She started playing better. It was good for me mentally as well because I was able to recover and do well again.

Q. Did you watch the first set of Kerber and Konta? How do you worry, if you worry?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I worry for every match. I get stressed out just as much as the next person. I just really have been trying to just kind of focus on me. For me it's just a great thing to be in the final after taking such a long time off.

Whatever happens, I just kind of am proud of myself for reevaluating my game and trying to get better.

Q. You said on court you were surprised to be in the final. This being your seventh, are you that surprised? Did you think this was going to possibly be a rough stretch of the year for you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: For sure I thought it was going to be a really rough part. I mean, I never thought I was going to go out and lose in the first round, but at the same time I never thought before, I'm going to make it to the final, or anything. I was just playing literally a point at a time.

So now, you know, I'm just still trying to do that.

Q. Four months off to get healthy, and you don't lose a set on your way to the final. Is there a correlation?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I definitely think I needed the time off. I've been going and going and going for a long time. Been really going hard since probably before the Olympics in 2012. That's a long time.

So I felt like I really committed myself, and I need to commit to myself and my body and take some time off, restart.

Q. In this period you've won something like eight of the last 12 slams, your ranking is a very dominant No. 1, your head-to-heads against your rivals are incredible. Could you talk about your dominance. Is that something that gives you satisfaction? Do you give yourself permission to reflect on this incredible record?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, not really. Not yet. I feel like when I play tougher opponents, when I play people that have beaten me in the past, is capable of doing, that I just have to be more focused.

I've always said that when I'm playing at my best, it's difficult to beat me. Have I played at my best my whole career? I don't know. But I've been definitely trying to put in a lot of work and trying to get there.

Q. We've had a couple of your opponents sit in that chair in recent days and say how motivating and inspiring it is to play against you. How humbling is that to hear from your peers, your opponents?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's awesome. It's really cool. And I could tell everyone is really motivated because when they're playing me they give maximum effort and maximum everything. It actually makes me a better player, too, because I'm going up against these players that are playing at their peak. So I have to be at my peak, as well, for every single game.

Q. You dropped only 17 games since the first round. Do you feel like there's almost unstoppable momentum heading towards the most important match of the tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think everything is stoppable at some point, I guess. But right now I'm really just trying to stay focused and just play, you know, in myself, not get too far ahead of myself.

Q. You've talked about the time away, the few months away from the tennis. I know you always stay busy otherwise. Is the recharging just stepping away or did you do something specific, a Yoga retreat, something mental?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, that sounds really nice (smiling).

I have a lot of different jobs. I didn't really have time. I had time away from tennis, but I was extra busy on my new collection that I'm starting, just a lot of stuff. It was really kind of hectic. I was actually happy to get back into tennis. It's more relaxing and calming for me.

But I needed it. I needed time off just to, like, take a minute and just chill and re-heal, get ready.

Q. When was the last time you played a set as close to perfect as that first set today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, probably my second-round match I played pretty good two sets there. But I think today, I mean, going against Aga, you have to be ready or be ready to go home. Obviously I wanted to stay around, so I just had to start really, really focused and really, really ready.

Q. Venus is on the entry list for Indian Wells. What will it mean to you that your sister is going back there after all these years? Was it a difficult decision for her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think you'll have to ask her that question. Yeah, I definitely think it's better to refer to her for that.

Q. Could you talk about what it means for you that your sister is returning.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I would rather you talk to Venus about that. Sorry.

Q. You talked about the focus at the start of the match today. Did you feel that was missing a little bit last year? You had a lot of tough three-setters at the Grand Slams. What's been the change?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I just always get off to a slow start. Mentally I was really trying to get off to a fast start. Every single time, you know, I would just start out down.

I just really wanted to focus on when I first walk out there to be ready to go from the first point, then that way I don't necessarily have to play from behind, which I can do clearly, and I proved that last year, but I wanted to prove that I can play also ahead this year.

Q. You're one off Steffi Graf in terms of Grand Slams. Does the sense of history come into your preparation or do you block that out for now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely block it out. I was one off last year, too. If I don't win on Saturday, I'll still be one off. It took me forever to get to 18. I was so stressed out. I don't want to relive that at all.

Q. You could play Kerber in the final. What will your thoughts be on that matchup on that sort of stage, her first slam final?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, she took out a really tough opponent in Victoria. You can't underestimate Kerber. She's beaten me before, too, and pretty good. I know that she brings a lot, you know, to the game.

Her being lefty definitely helps out as well. I haven't played any lefties yet. But we'll see. I think if I do play her, it will be a really good match. It definitely won't be easy.

She's been very consistent this year already. She's proven that she wants to take her game to the next level. I know she was talking about she wants to do better in the slams this year. To start out with a potential final already tells you that if she puts her mind to something, she's going to do it.

Q. If it's Konta, it would be the first time in your career you would have faced somebody for the first time in a slam final.
SERENA WILLIAMS: It will be the first time for both of us. That will be interesting, too. She actually wins a lot of matches. I've been following her for a while now. She hardly ever loses. It's not surprising to me that she's doing so well.

Q. Did you watch her match against Venus?

Q. Last month when you came to Japan for the IPTL, it seems like you were not very ready for competition, not fit. When do you think you switched and were ready to compete for this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I was just starting then, trying to get ready. I'd been practicing for a little bit, playing some matches against players that had been playing all year long. It was a little hard.

After that I started playing better.

Q. A lot of people said that first match against Giorgi was going to be a really tough test. Is that something you're thankful for? You've looked in good form since that match.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was definitely not an easy match. I feel like she really pushed me. She's the kind of opponent you have to be ready to play. She plays so hard. To have to play her in the first round wasn't really easy.

But, you know, I was up for the challenge and I survived, am still here.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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