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January 23, 2003

Serena Williams


MODERATOR: Questions for Serena.

Q. Were you in your A game for the last six games?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think pretty much I picked up my game a lot for the last six games. I just -- I don't know if it was my A game. I can't recall. Maybe I have to look at some film and see.

Q. What was the injury? What was the matter with your foot?

SERENA WILLIAMS: A couple, three different blisters in different areas, so... Pretty nasty down there.

Q. At what point did you believe you could win?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, it's not that I never thought I was going to lose, but I never went out there saying, "Oh ... I don't know. I kept fighting. I thought, "I don't want to lose 6-1." Then I said, "I don't want to lose 6-2." So I just kept fighting. Next thing I know, I came back. It was just an unbelievable battle out there.

Q. For one and a half sets, it looked like you were very uncomfortable. What was going on at that time?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I didn't really have a great ^ practice that I wanted to. I was out there making too many errors on my backhand. I wasn't moving my feet enough. I just wasn't doing the things that I needed to do. Not only that, she was really playing an unbelievable game. She was doing all the right things at all the right times. She was just playing great tennis. I don't know, I just was a little uncomfortable.

Q. What we saw in the third set, apprehension, was the injury part of the reason?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it wasn't even -- it wasn't the injury, I just needed to be retaped because I had it taped and it kind of slipped, so it was starting to burn, so I needed my foot just to be retaped again. That took some time.

Q. You said you never thought you were going to lose in the first round. How about today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't go out there thinking, "Gosh, I'm going to lose." I don't care if I'm down 6-Love, 5 -Love, Love-40. I always think positively out there always say, "Let me try a little harder, try a little harder. Just go for one point, just this point." So I never believe in losing like that. I just always trying to think about positive.

Q. Have you thought about what separates you from the Serena Slam?

SERENA WILLIAMS: One match and Venus (smiling).

Q. Facing Venus on Saturday, will you change your preparation and practicing with Venus? Is this a time when your mom maybe steps out from the coach's box and goes back to being mom?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, she technically just -- if I'm having a bad practice, she'll say, "Okay, Serena, bend your knees, move up, do this, do that." She doesn't necessarily quit all together and say, "I don't care." She still gives us our techniques and what we both need to do. When we go out there, whoever performs the best, whoever does the best, is able to go on.

Q. Would you describe that as your greatest ever fight back, Serena?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I know this might sound crazy, but no. I was down worse one time. I was down 2-6 -- no, I think I lost the first set 6-1 to Lindsay Davenport, and I was down 2-5, 15-40. I was able to come back and win that match. I've had some tough fights and comebacks. I think in anyone's career, they're always going to have to have one comeback in their lifetime.

Q. Where was that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: That was actually in Sydney. I've had a lot of matches like this where I'm fighting and coming back.

Q. This is the first Australian Open title for either Williams. Does that make it extra special?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes, it is, because people say - we just are always battling our critics out there - we never really get out to a strong start in the beginning of the year. And this is great for me because I have no points to defend. This is a good time for me to gain points since I have so many points later on to try to defend. I think this is a great opportunity.

Q. You and Venus both have this wonderful tenacity. Do you have any idea where it comes from?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I've always been a fighter. I don't know. I just keep fighting. I don't know where it comes from. I've always been a fighter. I think I give Venus a little bit of a fight. She said she didn't have as much fight before I came out. So who knows. It's innate.

Q. How do you now go out and play doubles?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, got to start over. I want to go ahead and try to win this title. We'll see. I'm going to go out there and try to make my returns, probably play a little better than I did in my singles match. You know, just have fun. Whatever happens happens.

Q. Do you think Venus is going to come at you in a different way than the last three Grand Slams?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Venus is actually playing a little better than me at this tournament, so I have to make sure. I don't know, I just got to pull something out of my back pocket to be able to go onto the next level tomorrow, because she's playing really well here. But, obviously, I would like to win one more match. Granted, she wants to win this one, as well, wants to get her year started. Who knows, she's probably trying to win all four, as well. I'm just trying to win one, too.

Q. Can you imagine how Kim feels now?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, Kim, she's not only a good tennis player, but she's a great person and I think she'll make a great champion because she is always positive. Even if inside she's dying, she always looks positive, she always smiles. We were actually chatting in the locker room. You can appreciate that, because after I lose, I used -- when I was younger, I would be angry. But now it's just a game, and I just wish the other person good luck in the future. You can appreciate how she does that.

Q. So you were just chatting with her after the match?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. We were having trouble with our cell phones working in the locker room.

Q. Do you view yourself as the underdog on the basis of the semifinals?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I never -- I don't know. I'm just going to go out there and try to win two sets by any means necessary.

Q. Do you think Venus can push you further than Kim did today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I hope not. I mean, I don't know. Kim played just really, really well. I was really lucky I think to be able to get through this match.

Q. You've had such an amazing high emotionally just a few minutes ago. I would think you possibly are feeling a little down now. How are you going to crank yourself up to play doubles?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, just -- you know, actually I won the US Open and had to go out and - my first US Open - and had to go out and play doubles half hour later, I was able to win. I'm just going to do it again. That was a bit more of a high for me back then.

Q. With Venus the next day and a half, will you talk about the final at all or you won't deal with it in any kind of overt way? Is it a big white elephant sitting in the room? How do you deal with that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: We just will probably talk about our semifinal matches. Like I always say, we never really talk about tennis outside of the tennis court because, you know, I don't want to bring my work -- I don't like to bring my work home. I try to separate the two. We don't really talk about our jobs in our house.

Q. You won't joke about it, say, "I'm going to get you, big sis," anything like that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: We don't have corny jokes like that (laughter).

Q. I saw you had a super dress on with a glitter strap. Did you design that yourself?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I did. I put the little glitter on it, the whole nine yards. I try to have fun with my outfits. If they're not really snazzy the way I like it, I try to make them a little better.

Q. Out of the four Grand Slam finals you played, how do you rate this one? Is this the nicest one because it was the hardest to get?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I've had a tough time at the French Open, as well. I had an unbelievable semifinal against Jennifer Capriati. Plus that one was just amazing because it was on clay. Like I said, we've been battling our critics. People say, "The Williams sisters can't play on clay." That was also something really special to me. Each one has a special meaning. Getting to the finals of Wimbledon is just something I'm not going to forget, and the one at my home, the US Open, it's always great to be a part of, that night match. Here, I'm also aware because it's real special for me to be for the first time in Australia. Just to be in the final right now is just really, really special. Each one has a special meaning.

Q. You said on the court you thought you were going to lose. Was that just for the public? Now you've gone back to being positive.

SERENA WILLIAMS: I just never think I'm going to lose. I just don't want people to think I'm too cocky. It's always something with us Williams sisters, you know. "They're too cocky." Whatever (laughter).

Q. You don't like to talk about opponents, but do you think Kim could be the main challenger to you and your sister this year?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think Kim is definitely a main challenger to us this year. Has definitely picked up her game. Since day one, I've always had a tough match against Kim. The first time I played her I believe was at the US Open in 1999. So she's always been a tough competitor. Yeah, she's a main challenge to the Williams sisters.

End of FastScripts….

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