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January 23, 2017

Serena Williams

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

S. WILLIAMS/B. Strycova

7-5, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. That was more difficult than your previous rounds. As you said on the court, you were struggling with your serve but managed to overcome it. What confidence can you take out of that, that plan B working?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I feel like it was really good for me to win on probably not my best day, which is always good, because sometimes you rely on one shot and if it goes off, and then, like, what happens now?

It was really good for me to almost lose that so I know my other game is going pretty good, too.

Q. Is she tough because she's kind of hard to read?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She's hard to read, she's scrappy, gets a lot of balls back. She definitely plays a different game than the other three players I played before.

It was definitely -- it gave me a different look. But, yeah, it was interesting.

Q. We don't know who you play yet, but if it's Jo Konta, she's obviously a top-10 player. You haven't actually played her yet, but how much have you picked up from her without having played her?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I have watched her game a lot. She's been doing really, really well, and she hasn't lost yet this year, I don't think. She won Sydney, right?

Q. Won in Shenzhen.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I didn't know she played that one.

Well, she's been playing really well. She has a very attacking game. I know her game pretty well. I look forward to it.

Like I said on the court, I have absolutely nothing to lose in this tournament. Everything here is a bonus for me. Obviously I'm here to win. Hopefully I can play better, I can only go better.

Q. The other day Roger was talking about playing with Bencic in Hopman Cup, and he said when she was returning his serve she was crushing it and he was surprised at how well she returns. He says he doesn't really practice it that much. For you, how important do you think return is in women's game compared with the men's?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think the return is really important. I think it's key. Serve and returns, probably some of the two really important shots in tennis.

It just gets -- obviously it's the first shot you hit, whether it's a serve or a return. I think it's pretty important.

Q. People always talk about your serve but really not your return. Do you think that's kind of unfair, the quality of your return?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I have a pretty good return (smiling).

Q. How shocked were you yesterday that Murray and Kerber went out? We don't usually see the top players go out...
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, Murray was very shocking. I went to bed by the time the other match came on, because it was getting to be so late. Believe it or not, I'm still slightly jet lagged. I go to bed really early now.

But it's been a couple interesting weeks for Angie. You know, she's been dealing with a lot. I think she was able to handle it the best she could.

I think Coco played really well. I think she really just came up with a wonderful game plan, and it was an easy match so it wasn't too surprising.

Q. How do you think those results affect tennis in the longer perspective for, like, younger players?
SERENA WILLIAMS: There is always some results like that in a tournament, or every so often it happens. I don't know how it affects younger players, but something like this happens every now and then.

Q. Have you been able to look at any of the footage, or whatever, of the women's marches in the States, even around the world, how many people showed up, and your perception of that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, obviously I saw that. It was everywhere on social media. It's been covered a lot.

I guess a lot of women were able to really come together, and people, in general, to really come together and had the freedom to march.

Q. Do you think people kind of miss that point sometimes of women, that they can kind of come together and make a statement?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, sure. I feel like it's so important for whatever cause, you know, whatever you want to come together for, to have people like women be able to unite and stand united.

Q. Venus hasn't lost a set yet. Are you a bit surprised, I mean, the way things are going? She has a good chance to beat Pavlyuchenkova maybe. What is your idea about that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think she's playing really well. She's been really putting in a lot of the hard work. She had a really intense preseason. We trained right next to each other.

Yeah, like I said, I feel like when you put in the hard work, the results, eventually, they show up.

Q. Should people be that impressed that at 35 and 36 you're doing this, or should they just assume that why not?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it's impressive. I think in general people our age aren't really playing at a top level, so indeed, it's definitely impressive. Venus and I are mentally 8 and 9, so that's why we're probably able to play a little better (smiling).

Q. Do you feel older than you did like 12 years ago or you can't...
SERENA WILLIAMS: Sadly, no. I wish I did, but sadly, I don't.

Q. When it came out, the news about your engagement, we were all talking about the fact that you met him in Rome, but it wasn't clear if it was just those days or you had met him in Rome one year ago or six months ago or whenever.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I hope it was a couple years ago (smiling). No, it was a couple years ago. So, no, it wasn't like six months ago.

Q. So it wasn't recent?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it wasn't recent.

Q. So you were not back in Rome without being there for a tournament? That is what I wanted to know.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh, actually, I was, incidentally. I love Rome. You know I love Italy. It's my favorite place.

Q. Why don't you come to Florence one day?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've never been. I'll have to go.

Q. So was it like meeting somebody, arranged?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Did you read it? You didn't read what I wrote?

Q. I thought it was like just happenstance.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think I said -- what did I say? I said I was whisked away to Rome? I don't remember.

Q. No, when you first met. Was it just like happenstance or was it at the same party?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Literally by chance. It was just -- I was sitting down, and he sat next to me. It was just...

Q. Nobody introduced you? You were just at a restaurant?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. Yeah, that doesn't happen anymore, right?

Q. Only in the movies.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Right? I live in a movie and in a fairy tale in my mind, so I guess eventually it was bound to happen.

Q. Will the wedding be in Venice?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You said Florence.

Q. Yeah, I prefer.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't know. I love Italy, though. I love the food.

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