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March 13, 2016

Serena Williams

Indian Wells, California

S. WILLIAMS/Y. Putinseva

7-6, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Want to talk about the first set.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I was just trying to find my rhythm out there. Trying my best to not get off to a slow start. Then I got broken really early and I couldn't manage to break back.

But I was just trying to fight out there and do what I could.

Q. What is it about her game that's quite frustrating?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I found it good to play. I just wasn't finding my rhythm. I hadn't played someone like her in a second, so I was just trying to get my bearings there.

I made a lot of errors in that first set. I went for a lot and I usually make those, but I kept missing. Even in the first game. Wow, this echo is annoying. Is that better? Yes, I think. Yeah. Okay.

Even though I won, I made some simple errors that just kept going for the first set.

Q. Are you playing your way into the tournament in a way? Because obviously as you came in here you hadn't played since Australia. You need the rest and yet are you finding yourself, hey, I'm not tournament ready?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Not at all. I'm tournament ready. I have been playing professional tennis for over 20 years. Yeah, if I'm not tournament ready now then I'm never going to be. It's time to think of other jobs. (Laughter.) Maybe I can become a reporter. (Laughter.)

Q. It was about the 10th game. Seemed like there was a switch that flipped in the first set. Did you feel something at that point that made you kind of engage a little bit more?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. My intensity was higher and I started making my shots. I was going for it. I just kept missing it either in the net or missing it out. Really, really close.

I started making them, and then I started getting more confidence to continue to go for it, and that kind of helped me out.

Q. Sort of a great thing about you and your career is Serena is Serena. You do it your way. You have your own dynamic. But talk about your slow starts. So often. Not getting your mojo. Talk about that in your game over the years?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's my thing, I guess. I don't know. I don't try to start slow. I don't know if I have my whole career. I know last year I had a lot of slow starts, but I feel like I have done better this year.

I had a slow start in this one, too, but it's getting better. It just goes to show there is always something I can improve on. I'm always looking to improve on things.

Q. Specifically after last year's French Open when you had all those problematic matches, what did you do in the break before Wimbledon to try and address that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I took a week off because I thought I was definitely gonna not make it. I don't even remember Wimbledon. I don't know. I think I had a tough draw. I had a tough draw. I just tried to stay with it.

Q. When they introduce you as they do, No. 1 player in the world, does that put any extra pressure on you? I have to perform as the No. 1 player, or can you just go out and play your game?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It doesn't put extra pressure on me. I don't think I can have any extra pressure on me at all.

So I just -- for me, having that No. 1 behind my name, and even if I didn't, the 21 Grand Slams behind my name is good because it makes me feel just good. Just like I like it.

Q. Talk about the experiences being here last year and this year. Any part of you which you had come back sooner?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's been a great experience this year like I said on the court. When I was down like 4-5 they just started cheering. I'm not used to that, because everywhere I go a lot of people cheer for the underdog.

So here they cheer for me, which is such a good feeling. That's not everywhere. There are a lot of places I go where people obviously cheer for me. But this is one of the places I would have never thought stuck out.

Do I wish I'd come earlier? I can't say I do. I think everything happened at the right time. I had to be in the right mind frame, and I had to be not only mentally ready, but ready in my heart to come back.

Q. Do you think you play better under pressure? In the first set when it seemed like it was long, that seemed to be the point when you changed the game and tilted your way.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think a lot of top players tend to play better under pressure, and I think that's what makes the difference between the top players and -- it's just being able to accept that and to raise the level of the game.

Q. You hung out a bit with Mike Tyson today. The guy had incredible punches, but the people who know him say he has a great heart, too. Talk about Tyson. Any thoughts on him? Incredible athlete.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I have known him for a number of years now. He's just always been really soft-spoken. Obviously I think a lot of people know that. He's also really kind and just in general, you know, just someone that really seems to care a lot.

Yeah, it was fun to meet him, again, but his daughter yesterday. It was cool.

Q. You said the other day you were studying medicine. Is that something you're taking courses on that or what?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I'm not this semester. I took a semester off. But I am studying like a biology/kinesiology...

My goal is premed, but I want to focus on holistic medicine, because I like to heal myself holistically mostly because of what my sister went through.

So, yeah.

Q. Is that with a career goal in mind or something?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Um, no. I mean, I just feel like fruits and vegetables and the earth can really heal people with all kinds of ailments, and I think it was put on this planet for a reason.

I like studying about that and learning like natural ways to take care of inflammation or to take care of your heart or to take care of your liver or to take care of lots of different things.

And I have had a lot of illnesses, as well. And then, like I said, my sister, living with her and having to change my diet because we -- I couldn't bring crap in the house. (Laughter.)

So it was like, you know, I was on the same journey and I felt good and I had never experienced that before. I just kind of thought, you know, one day I hoped to have a family. I want to know a lot about medicine in case something happens.

So definitely not professionally, but just to learn and to have knowledge.

Q. Your serve was fantastic. Your next match, what do you think you need to work on? What do you think you need to take from the match today, which was fabulous?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think everything. I think I made some errors. I'm going to go back and ask Patrick like what are some things we can work on. I'm never sitting here thinking I played perfect.

I don't think I served excellent today. I served a little better than yesterday, but it wasn't perfect. Just can always improve.

Q. Can you identify with Mike Tyson?

Q. In any way.
SERENA WILLIAMS: That's a really broad question, Doug. I mean, looking at him -- I mean, I was super young. I think he was doing amazing like in the early '80s. I don't know.

But I just remember -- well, I don't know. I just know that he was so good at what he did, and he must have had a lot of pressure on him to step in that ring and not only to win but to win in the first round, you know.

I don't know. I never thought about it.

Q. You mentioned family just a second ago. You're going to play Katarina Bondarenko, who is a mom. Can you image being a mom on tour, playing full time and having that part of your life also?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I could, actually. I have had time off where I could have had a little Rena running around. (Laughter.) Baby Rena. She'd of been fun. She would like tacos and everything.

But, yeah, that didn't happen, so -- it would be good. I haven't played her in a minute. Yeah.

Q. Back to boxing. You hung out a little while ago, few years back, with Lennox, too, if I recall correctly. Talk about the quality in those sports of the single athlete, being out there in the arena. Is that tough? Does that give you certain strength? Do you feel vulnerable?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. It's just a good feeling to be out in an arena and to be playing, you and your opponent. Everyone is there to watch you. It's just a feeling that I just can't describe.

You kind of have to be there and to go through all of the work and years and years to even describe that feeling.

Q. You have recently made a landmark change to shorter hair. I was just kind of wondering how you feel about that? Are you going to stick with it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Really? (Laughter.)

I needed a change. My hair is so curly, and it was like, I just need a change. So I went through a little bit of change, couple of changes. It was just like got my nose ring, got my hair shorter.

So it was just like I needed to do something different.

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