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January 18, 2016

Serena Williams

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


6-4, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Did that feel more like a bit of the unknown because it's been such a long time since you played her in a match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it didn't really feel unknown. It was just going out there and trying to get some rhythm and play, get through that.

Q. How is your knee, Serena?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's great. It was an hour and 43 minutes and I didn't feel it at all.

Q. Looking back, do you think pulling out of the Hopman Cup in Perth, has that helped your knee then?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, probably. I would have never pulled out if I didn't need to, and, you know, it was just a last-minute decision. I even tried to play a match.

Obviously I wanted to play, you know, to get some match play.

Q. What were you pleased with the most from the match today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I served well today. I think, you know, I got broken once, but other than that, I was able to stay focused on that part. And I was able to serve really well and that really helped me.

Q. If you had to give yourself a grade today, what grade would you give yourself for your performance?
SERENA WILLIAMS: A for effort. (Laughter.) Yeah. A for effort.

Q. And overall?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I'm just thinking positive. You know, that match is done with. On to the next one.

So like I said, A for effort.

Q. What game plan did you take out there today with Camila?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, I have played her a couple of times before, and just wanted to be as consistent as I could.

Yeah, she definitely doesn't really give you a lot of rhythm, so it's definitely a different match.

Q. How did the time off this winter help you? And also, after going through that long time without playing, how does that affect you just getting back out on the court?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It helped me a lot. I think I just needed a break. I have been going nonstop since the Olympics London, and seeing that this is another Olympic year, I kind of wanted to start the year out really fresh and really go at it again as hard as I can.

I just needed that time to just recover the best of my ability and get really fit, you know, and really train and get ready for the season.

Q. Was there any uncertainty for you in that you had not played in four months?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Not really. To be honest, I just feel like when I think about that, I also think about, Okay, I haven't played in a long time, but I have been playing for 30 years, so it's kind of -- I try to focus on that.

You know, sometimes it's hard, because definitely tennis is a sport where you need those matches. But I just try to just focus on whatever I can, the positives.

Q. The Sports Illustrated award obviously was fantastic. First woman in a long, long time. First tennis player in a long, long time. But what was the most fun or quirky or surprising thing about the whole experience of being Sports Illustrated's sportsperson of the year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Obviously it was a great experience not just for me but I think for women in general and for young girls that want to strive to be athletes and for people that, oh, you should do this, but they can show athletes can be cool and awesome, you know, and just great role models.

I thought that was really cool. And also just being in the atmosphere and learning about all the other people that had been nominated, sports kid of the year, so many really, really inspiring stories that make you look at yourself and be like, Wow.

Things could be different, things could be worse, and, you know, you just always look at more positive things.

Q. And the great writer Scott Price who did that piece on you in the magazine sort of concluded by saying that Serena Williams, for better, for worse, for good, great, not so great, is kind of an embodiment of our country. Was that a compliment for you? Do you see that in your own heart?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I have to kind of sit on those words. I didn't really read through it. I skimmed through it. As you know, I never read about myself, so I have to think -- I have to have a think on that.

Q. He said that for a lot of women, a lot of African-Americans, for several other types, that you were a go-to person and your victories were their victories.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think that's awesome. I know a lot of people that I run into are very candid about saying, you know, Serena, like, when you're winning, you're winning for us, or, We pray for you. That is really -- it really helps me to want to do better. Both on and off the court.

Q. One of the other things that people notice that got news during the offseason was the cell phone thief and you tracked him down. What did you think of the reaction to that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn't think it would be such a big story. I thought I just would post it on Facebook because it was fun. I didn't know it would be everywhere, every blog, every TV channel, and every radio station. People were calling me. My dad was worried. I just had no idea it would blow up like that.

But, yeah, so that was just completely unexpected for me.

Q. Did you get any crime fighting jobs or offers?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I'm still looking to get some action roles. Maybe a super hero. (Smiling.) That's my dream.

Q. After everything you heard from your dad, would you do it again if you...
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, God, no. I reacted and I didn't think. It was just like, sometimes athletes just react. But I was really nice about it. He was really nice about it. It worked out. I got lucky.

Q. Are you aware of reports today that there is possibly match fixing allegations within professional tennis? Would you be surprised to learn of something like this happening?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I just heard about it today, just as a warning that I might be asked about it. But that's literally all I have heard about it.

Q. Have you ever seen any hint of that, any indications of that at all?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Not that I'm aware of. When I'm playing, I can only answer for me, I play very hard, and every player I play seems to play hard.

I think that, you know, we go --you know, as an athlete, I do everything I can to be not only great, but, you know, historic. You know, if that's going on, I don't know about it. You know, I'm kind of sometimes in a little bit of a bubble.

Q. Off topic, a lot of Europeans learn how to speak English and not very many Americans learn to speak another language. You have. How has learning French helped you? What do you advise for other players and other people?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's amazing how you meet a 14 or 13 year old and they are speaking three languages. You're, like, How is that possible?

That was really encouraging for me when I first came on tour to really focus and to really try to get fluent and to really try to get really good at French.

So it worked out. One of my dreams was to give my speech in French. I'm working on English now. (Laughter.) Yeah. I think if you have goals, and that was my goal growing up, to speak in French at the French Open if I won, when I won the title.

Just goes to show you if I have goals then can you reach them.

Q. What, if anything, do you know of Naomi Osaka? She's the young Japanese player that's coming up. Beat Stosur in Stanford a couple years ago.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I have seen her play. I saw that match. She's really young and really aggressive. She's a really good, talented player. Extremely young. Very dangerous.

Q. Who do you see as your biggest challenger to defend your title here this year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Everyone. You know, everyone is here to win. Everyone is here to play their hardest. Yeah, I can't overlook past anyone.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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