September 1, 2002
NEW YORK CITY
MODERATOR: Serena will not be addressing any questions related to the stalker incidents due to legal and security reasons.
Q. How come you lost two games?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She played very well. She was serving good. Like I said, when I play better players, I tend to raise the level of my game. I don't know if 0-0 is my destiny. Maybe it's just not my destiny.
Q. Coming to the net behind a first serve return, are you sending a message before your first serve returns?
SERENA WILLIAMS: And I return and come to the net?
Q. She's serving and volleying, you're returning your first serve and coming to the net behind it right at her. Is there a message being sent there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I love playing serve and volleyers. I really get a thrill playing serve and volleyers. I have a specific strategy, but I will not let anyone in on it, except for maybe Venus.
Q. Was that it today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You didn't really see it today. She wasn't a pure serve and volleyer.
Q. What did you do all day? What time did you get out here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, just my luck, I got out here around 9 because I like to practice two hours before the match. I was thinking, "Yes, 11:00, I could be done by 12:00, have the rest of the day." But unfortunately it didn't work out that way. So I've been here since 9. I got a chance to hit a few serves and returns, went to sleep, ate, went to sleep, hung out, laughed. That's what I did today. Played a match.
Q. Did have you plans for that 12:00 hour?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it's good. In the end, this is better. I got to save money. Didn't do any shopping. It worked out perfect. That's how I like to look at it. Always a positive side, I guess.
Q. You said you came in rusty. How do you feel now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm feeling much better.
Q. Are you holding your own in practice?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm holding my own a little more in practice. I love hitting with Venus when she hits this well. It's really something to see, so I love it. I love returning her serve. I return so much her serve, my return is getting better and better, almost the way it was at Wimbledon. I'm almost to where I would like to be for this week, not for my career.
Q. Do you always practice together? If so, could you talk about the nature of the practice, how intense they get?
SERENA WILLIAMS: We always pretty much practice together, not for a very long time. Like if we both have a day off, I'll practice an hour earlier, or she would, depending who wants to wake up early. We hit with our hitting partner. We'd hit together for half hour, I'd be done, she hits for another hour. If we're at home, we'll hit more together. At the tournament, we do, but not as much as if we were at home.
Q. What's it like? Do you really get after it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think we really are intense. That's why it brings out the best of us. Venus, she gets very low and hits pretty hard. I try to mock her and follow her and do the same things.
Q. Those weren't perfect conditions, breezy, cool.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Very breezy.
Q. You had eight aces, going for your serves today. You still got in a high 70%. Did you feel particularly grooved on your serve?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm definitely feeling better on my serve. I've been really, really working hard on my serve. Once I serve well, my whole game goes up. That's with everybody, I think. I'm feeling a little bit better on my serve. I'm usually hitting at least 8 to 10 aces a match. I haven't been doing that.
Q. Three in a row today.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Twice, right?
Q. Yes. What does it say about the gap between you and the rest of the tour if you're coming in and beating the No. 20 ranked players on the tour that quickly, pretty easily? Does it say the gap is growing between you and a lot of the rest of the players?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I've just improved. I think everyone's improving. Actually, I think she has -- I played her a while back in Tokyo the first time I played her. Actually, I think this game is good. She has a very solid volley. That's going to be difficult. I think it's in the developing stages right now. I think maybe in a few months, it will just be a lot better.
Q. As well as you're returning serve, is there anyone's serve on tour that threatens you now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I think I have the best return out there. No one says I do, but I feel I do. I think a lot of people feel I do, too. Once I'm returning well, it all's clicking. Today I returned well. That's just for today. I have to make sure I do it tomorrow. Whenever I play again, I have to make sure I'm returning the way I did today.
Q. Would she ever be strong enough to give you trouble? She's slight.
SERENA WILLIAMS: She's very slim. She could be a model.
Q. I meant athletically, can she challenge you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She has lots of muscle. Like she's slim, but it's all muscle. But I don't know. Maybe if we were in a sprinting match, maybe I'd win. If we had a football game, maybe I'd win - maybe in basketball. Athletically, probably not.
Q. What would she win at?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She'd win at fitting in all the clothes I couldn't get in (laughter).
Q. You have a Letterman appearance coming up tomorrow.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Tomorrow is Monday, yes.
Q. Is that something you look forward to? Is it a show you would like to be on?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Dave is a very nice guy. I filmed it. He's very nice. I've always done Leno, I've never done Letterman. It was a different experience, New York. It was really nice.
Q. You filmed it already?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah.
Q. What was it like?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was fun. I didn't expect him to be so funny. Like, I was in the room listening to what he was saying. I was just cracking up. Normally, I watched Leno. Actually, I don't know, maybe I'm getting towards Letterman now. It was a really good show.
Q. Did he ask you any embarrassing questions?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Not that I can remember. I don't remember him asking any embarrassing questions. I don't get embarrassing questions.
Q. He can be kind of like how you are on a tennis court, putting people back on their heels immediately.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm very witty myself. I'm very witty. I can come up with things really quick.
Q. When did you tape it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It was a while ago. Sometime after Wimbledon. I guess it's a rerun.
Q. Which outfit do you plan to be wearing the rest of the week?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I've got to get back in the cat suit. People miss it too much (smiling). I think I'm going to wear that. It was cold today, so I wanted to wear the skirt. I'm ready to get back into the cat suit.
Q. Who would you rather play in the next round, Henin or Hantuchova?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It doesn't matter to me. Either way I'm going to have to meet one of them eventually, either now or sometime in the near future. Whoever comes, it's going to be a good match because both of them are very good players.
Q. Your father says he thinks you might not be taking the threat seriously enough. Do you think that's true?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, no. I'm definitely taking it serious - maybe too serious. I get so tense and so tight, so serious, that I can't relax.
Q. If you were to play a match on a Saturday night at 8:00, national television, which outfit would you wear?
SERENA WILLIAMS: If I get that far, we'll definitely have to wait and see.
Q. You're not going to say?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No.
Q. When you're playing in a Grand Slam, how conscious are you of what's happening in the world around you? Do you pretty much block everything out?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I think you have to be conscious of everything. I read a lot. I read the papers. I watch the news. But mostly I read. You can't just be oblivious to everything else just because it's a tournament. This is actually very minute compared to things that are going on in the world, I think.
Q. As well as you're playing, both Hantuchova and Henin have challenged you over the last five months. Do you have to step up a level or do you think the level you played today is good enough?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I never want to stay on the same level. I think I always have to step it up a level.
Q. Did the stalking arrest fuel you today...
MODERATOR: I'm sorry, could we just concentrate on questions related to the match. Last question.
Q. Do you scout your opponents or do you say "the hell with it" and take your best game out there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Pretty much the latter. You know, obviously with the other players, if I'm playing a Davenport or a Hantuchova or Henin or Hingis, Venus, I know their game a little more. But I'm the type of person that believes I have to go out and play my game. I'm not really into, "Okay, I have to hit to her forehand three times, then to the backhand, then to the forehand." I'm not into all that. That's too much for me. If I can't do it by now, 16 years, I'll never be able to do it. That's how I look at it.
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