January 18, 2003
THE MODERATOR: First question for Serena, please.
Q. Many people ask me, so I'll ask you: Did you pack the cat suit?
SERENA WILLIAMS: The cat suit has been retired. It will be in a museum. I had to retire it. I have a question. Since you're from the Boston Globe, does that mean you support the New England Patriots.
Q. I'm a stockholder. Conflict of interest?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Goodness. That is a very, very high conflict of interest. I'm a Rams fan. They ruined my life (laughter).
Q. When you see Tamarine's name in the draw next to yours, do you say, "Hey, great"? You've dropped one set to her.
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, not really. At this point, like I always say, you can never underestimate anyone. I think Tamarine played really well today. I think I actually picked up my game a little bit as well. If I would have been playing at a lower level, it would have been a much tougher match.
Q. Great match. Are you feeling more relaxed out there after your first two rounds? Happier today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm feeling more relaxed. The key for me is to be relaxed and stay calm. My mom tells me I'm too tight and too tense on the practice court. When I got down, I was like, "Okay, Serena, calm down." I think when I went into this match I was relaxed.
Q. How do you do that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. It's hard for me because, like I said, I'm a perfectionist. Everything has to be perfect. If it's not going like that on the practice court, when I get in the match, I'm all tensed up. But, I don't know how I can do that.
Q. You were asked about James Blake out there on the court today. Can you talk about him as a person and player too.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think he's a really nice person. He's just -- he's the epitome of a gentleman, just a very kind individual. He has a good heart, as well as his parents are very nice as well. I think he could be a politician one day (smiling). He could definitely run for state governor and then president eventually, because he says all the right things. Always have my notebook when I'm talking to James. But as a player he's a really good player, you know. He's doing really well. Great for American tennis. Also seeing that he's also African American, that's just -- that's a good thing on the men's side to have someone going out there and doing so well. It's been a while since Mal Washington. I love his new outfit, so... in a nut shell.
Q. You're the one that defended Tommy's at the US Open?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it's nice. I think men should be able to wear whatever - not whatever, please, but it's fun. You get -- some guys, get to see their muscles, so I think it's nice.
Q. There was a story in the New York Times about how there's supposed to be an increase in the junior ranks of young black American players coming up because of you and Venus. How do you feel about that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Wow, that's great. I feel very, very good about that. Hopefully they will be able to continue because it's good to see different faces out there. Just get to see different people perform and have fun with it and just have tennis expand. I think that in general it would be a very, very nice thing to see. Hopefully they can come along and do better than us.
Q. Professionally, what are your priorities?
SERENA WILLIAMS: My priorities?
Q. Besides being a champion. I think I saw you on the screen recently?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah. My priorities now still remain with tennis and remain to try and stay No. 1. It's going to be hard this year because there are a lot of people after me - namely, Venus - who really wants to be No. 1 again. So that's my whole focus, is just try. Whatever happens, happens, as long as I'm happy.
Q. Venus came to net 45 times in her match yesterday. I guess she's trying to make that a bigger part of her game. Is that the right move for her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: That's definitely the right move for her. Seeing that I copy everything Venus does, you might see me at the net more.
Q. Why is it right for her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: We can do well at the baseline; we can do even better at the net. If we're dominating at the baseline, I think if we come to the net, it will just add that more depth into our game.
Q. Do you sense Venus, having enjoyed your success, but now wishes to, as you just alluded to, take the No. 1 position back from you? Do you two talk about it at all in that sense? Would you say that's her ambition for the year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, she's never sat down and told me, "Serena I'm going to take No. 1 away from you." I'm sure that's what she wants to do. She's working hard, she's playing really well. She is just on a different level from a lot of the girls and everyone else. So including me sometimes, when I'm practicing with her, I'm like I don't know how I was ever able to beat her. Like I said, I'm just trying to do what I can do to stay in the position.
Q. The fact that you've beaten her in the last three majors, do you think that sent her into a mental decline or made her more determined?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it definitely makes a person more determined. I think she was really determined to do well at the US Open; I was too. I think she really, really, really wants to win another Slam. Anyone would say getting into the finals of a Grand Slam is just an amazing year. But for Venus and I, we would like to go a step further.
Q. Is that difficult for you psychologically, knowing you have something she wants?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. She always has something that I want.
Q. Aside from Venus, where do you expect the challenge to come from here and for the rest of the year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think there's -- everyone's playing well. As you can see in the first round, my first-round match, I was barely able to get through. I think the most important thing is for me not to underestimate anyone, no matter who it is. But for names, I'd have to say -- I think Lindsay Davenport is making a good comeback. She doesn't have any points to defend and she can only gain this year. I think she's going to be one to watch out for. Obviously the Belgian girls, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin. Chanda is doing really well. She's a dark horse I would really watch out for.
Q. There's been a lot of turnover in the WTA leadership. Is that something you think about, you talk about with other players?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, there's definitely talk amongst other players, what -- how we feel about the issues and things of that nature.
Q. How do you feel? Is it out of control? Is anybody running it? Are you concerned?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm not ready to share how I feel right now. Sorry.
Q. That smash in the first game of the second set, what happened there? Did you misjudge the wind?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I didn't take the -- I didn't look at the ball. I just didn't look at it. My head was down, my racquet was up, kind of like this. Kind of hard to hit a ball like that. Happens every time when you do it like that.
Q. Is it a relief for you you don't have to play doubles today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It is. I've been here late the past two nights. I was after Gustavo Kuerten's match, which was five hours. The other men's match decided to go three sets. So it was just -- it's definitely a relief I'm going home.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.