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July 6, 2002

Serena Williams

Wimbledon, England

MODERATOR: Ladies and Gentlemen, 2002 Wimbledon Champion.

SERENA WILLIAMS: That's me (smiling).

Q. How do you feel?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I feel really good. I'm happy. I'm part of the club. So I'm very excited.

Q. Did they give you anything, besides the trophy? Do they give you a little card you have to flash?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I'm waiting for the pin, all the members have the pin. So I'm waiting for it. I'm really excited to get it.

Q. Do you think this has been the best match between you two sisters, out of the nine times you played?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, I don't know. I played really well I think in Munich way back in '99. That was really exciting. The Ericsson, now known as the Nasdaq-100, back maybe in '99 also. But this is up there, for sure.

Q. Can you talk about that last game? It looked like you were almost ready to hyperventilate, that you were trying to take big breaths, calm yourself down a little bit. Can you take us through that from before you served on?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, okay, I was thinking, "Well" -- always think on the bright side. I figure there's a bright side in everything. When I was up 4-2, serving for 5-2, I lost that game, I thought, "Well, you know, I could have been down 4-2 in the set." So I was always thinking on the bright side. Then when I was serving for it, I figure, "Whatever happens, either way I'm still up 5-4." And I just have to stay calm. What's really been able to help me, I've been thinking 20 years from now, am I going to regret missing this serve? Am I going to regret doing this? So that really helped me calm down. I just wanted to breathe, you know, try to get through it because I really don't get nervous, but then I think maybe I was a little nervous there.

Q. What are you reading under your towel? What kind of inspirational messages are there?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, just things that I need to work on. Just reminders, like, "Look at the ball." Just simple things like that. Because normally I get unfocused when I'm sitting down, I start to look around. But Venus doesn't really have that problem, but I do. So I just try.

Q. Things you wrote to yourself?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, things I write to myself - to stay focused, I won't look around, lose my mind.

Q. Is this the fulfillment of sort of a lifetime ambition, winning here?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I can't become satisfied because, you know, if I get satisfied, I'll be like, "Oh, I've won Wimbledon, I've won the US Open. Now can I relax." But now people are really going to be fighting to beat me now. So in the beginning of the year, I said, "You know, I don't care what happens this year, I want to win Wimbledon." And it was an extra bonus for me to win the French. Sure, I really wanted to win the French. I mean, I just couldn't even believe I won. But I just wanted Wimbledon. I wanted to become a member of so much prestige, so much history. I want to be a part of history.

Q. What do you plan on doing with that membership? Are you going to hang out here? Go for lunch?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, this is going to be my main hang-out, don't you know (laughter)?

Q. Can you talk about the difference between now and a year ago? You're a three-time Grand Slam winner. A year ago, that US Open felt a long time away.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, times were low a year ago. But, you know, it's high tide now, it's high tide.

Q. Do you think of yourself a little differently?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Like I said, it's all changed mentally. I'm mentally a different person: I'm stronger, I seem to have more experience under my belt. I don't know. I don't know what the main turnaround point was. Maybe last year at Wimbledon when I lost - it was a tough loss, it really was. I don't know, just sometimes I wonder if I hadn't of lost, would things be different.

Q. What was the difference today in the match? And what do you think right now sets you apart from Venus on the court?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, today, honestly, I wanted to win so bad, and I kept thinking to myself, "Okay, Serena, just stay calm. She already has two Wimbledons. Try to fight." And I really played really good today. Venus, she didn't -- her serve -- her arm was a little tired. Too much work on it. We just really have been beating ourselves up. So in the second set, she couldn't serve as well as she did in the first because my game -- wasn't as high, because I wasn't as emotionally high in the second as I was in the first. So I think things might have been different.

Q. Your dad has always predicted you would be the better player eventually. Do you feel now you're the better player with the No. 1 ranking and this championship?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I don't know. I just always believe the way Venus plays at times, it's impossible to beat her. Because sometimes, even in practice, I'm really fighting just to get the ball back. And I don't even think I'm a good enough partner for her because of the way she's playing against me. But I don't know. I'm not going to say that I don't feel I'm -- but I think really, if I missed a shot in that match, things really could have swung either way, and she would have been sitting here as the champion. I just think we're so close right now -- okay, I lost my mind.

Q. You were serving for the first set at 5-4, she broke your serve. Were you afraid you were going to have nightmares about that game? What were you thinking there?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I thought at that point Venus, she was playing really good at that point. And I said, "Well, whatever happens, I'm going to go out here and I'm just going to fight and try to hold my own." And then at the end of the day, when I go home, when I go to sleep, I'll be able to say, "You know what, I tried my best." I don't want to have to say I didn't. So that's what I was thinking at that point. So then I wanted to go out and fight again.

Q. A lot of American kids when they're 20 like to come over to Europe and kick around, see the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben. In the summer of your 20th year, you won the French Open, Wimbledon, you've become No. 1 in the world. Can you possibly compare your life to the average 20-year-old American?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it's impossible. I think I live a definitely different life than most 20-year-olds. You have some pop stars who are 20 who are living maybe the same life I'm living. It's totally different. But I'm just as normal. None of it goes to my head. I have normal friends. I'm just as normal as anyone else, but I'm just not -- it's going to be impossible to be the same.

Q. Do you have any friends on the tour outside of Venus?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, yeah. I talk to -- well, Chanda and I really get along well. Alexandra and I, Alexandra Stevenson, we're really good friends. And Kim, she's a very nice girl. We always talk. There's a lot of players - Lisa Raymond, Rene Stubbs. We definitely get along.

Q. As aggressive as Venus can be with her groundstrokes, after the French Open, did you have the sense she had to become more aggressive against you today, maybe take a few more risks with her groundstrokes, go for the corners more today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know if I really had that feeling. I just felt that we both were struggling a little during the French. I don't know. I didn't really feel that she had to go for more. If anything, I had to go for more because she was running so fast. I kind of at one point made a couple mistakes I shouldn't have made because she was pretty much getting everything back.

Q. You were always going for everything.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I guess (smiling).

Q. What did Venus tell you about her shoulder after the match?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, she didn't tell me anything. Venus is the type person that she won't -- she never has an excuse for anything. Because I knew it was hurting beforehand. And I said, "Are you okay?" She said, "Oh, yeah, I'm going to be okay." "Are you going to be all right?" "Oh, yeah. Don't worry about me." And you really have to respect her not only as a person, as a player, as a sister, because not everyone would do that. She never lets anything bother her like that. She's a real champion. You know, this is why she is where she is.

Q. Did you notice her serve not as fast as it's been in the past? Last year she was hitting it 124. Today not.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, especially in the second set today I noticed it. Definitely, obviously, if I'm a competitor, I'm going to have to notice it. Unfortunately, it's like -- it's a war out here. You know, if there's a weakness, someone's going to have to be attacked. So, unfortunately, it was too bad.

Q. You guys have been in Grand Slam finals playing each other before, but this is the first time you've met in the finals of Wimbledon. As you were saying, the tradition here is a much bigger deal. Can you talk about being out there, the two of you on the court, in the finals of Wimbledon?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Wow, I don't know. When I first walked out there, I was just thinking I wanted to win, but I was thinking also that my dad always said that, you know, one day we'll be playing in the finals of Wimbledon, in the finals of the US Open, just the big ones. And here we were 10, 15 years later. And it's really amazing if you think about it because my dad - and my mom - it's hard to get one champion, but now he has two. And this is unbelievable really.

Q. For you guys, too. You were the ones doing all the work all those years.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I did a lot of work. And, you know, I don't regret any of it. It's nice when you can do a lot of stuff and you never have any regrets.

Q. When you said before that you tend to look around during changeovers, we noticed that you actually turned your chair around. Venus was facing the Royal Box, you were just facing the court. Was that a conscious decision?

SERENA WILLIAMS: She never turns her chairs around. In doubles I make her turn them around. I don't know why I like to turn them. Because normally they're always facing the court. So I always -- you know, I'm very -- I have to have it the same way every time. So for me, I just did it like that. But she normally never turns hers around.

Q. Did you go to Venus for the advice on what to do in accepting the plate or did she offer it to you?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, she told me. She told me, "When you accept the plate, you have to curtsy to the duchess." I think she was a princess today. I'm not sure. I'm not sure. I didn't do it to the guy, though. Then she told me afterwards that she wasn't sure. Since she wasn't sure, she did a small one. I realized I should have done it, too (smiling). Older sister is always the wisest.

Q. The fact that Venus has already got two titles, did that give you the extra drive to win this one?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it did. When I was able to win the first set, I think I got a little lackadaisical, I got a little too satisfied. I think I had a chance to break her. I was up 30-Love. And I just hit a couple ridiculous shots. Then I said to myself, "You're going to be telling your grandkids about this day, how you didn't take your opportunity." So then that's what I decided I just needed to go ahead and take my opportunity.

Q. I listened to your interview with Mary Carillo, this whole issue with rivalry. In your answer, you said that for you spirituality comes first, family, then tennis, even though it's a big part of your life, comes third. I would like you to explain what you mean by "spirituality"?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm a Jehovah's Witness. If you don't believe in God -- I think if you don't believe in God, it's going to be tough to live life because pretty much that's the basis of life, it comes from God. And so being a Jehovah's Witness, obviously we believe in God and the Bible. And without Him, I wouldn't be here right now. I really thank Him for everything. I've been blessed really. People are sick, just born with just disorders, and I've been blessed to be born, you know, pretty much healthy. So I really -- that's basically what I mean.

Q. Your shoe contract is coming up. How much incentive is that to kind of show the world and the next shoe company that you sign with that you're worth major bank?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I definitely am. I'm really exciting, I smile a lot, I win a lot, and I'm really sexy (smiling).

Q. As much pressure as you may have put on yourself, looking back on it, was it fun?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was fun. You know, it was a great match. It was really fun. We were really serving and returning, Venus running down balls - I was running down a lot of balls, too. You know, it was a good match to watch. I think the crowd really got into it. So it was fun. It wasn't long. Our matches really never last long.

Q. Do you feel a heightened sense of wanting to win the doubles so that Venus can leave with some type of championship?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, most definitely. And mostly because I would like to win the doubles, not only because for Venus, but just for me, too. I don't like losing at all. I just never have, and I probably never will.

Q. You mentioned your grandkids.

SERENA WILLIAMS: My dog's kids, my son.

Q. Now that you haven't blown this, what do you imagine you'll tell your grandkids about your first Wimbledon championship?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Tell them that, you know - I don't know - I had fun. It was just an experience of a lifetime, and I tried to hold on to it as long as I could, at least another 52 weeks.

End of FastScripts….

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