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January 19, 2017

Serena Williams

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

S. WILLIAMS/L. Safarova

6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Looked a little bit of a scrappy performance. A few more unforced errors, a few double-faults.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think that's a very negative thing to say. Are you serious?

Q. Just my observation.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, you should have been out there. That wasn't very kind. You should apologize. Do you want to apologize?

Q. I do. I'm sorry.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Thank you very much. That was a great performance. I played well. She's a former top-10 player. The last time we played together was in the finals of a Grand Slam.

You know, it's not an easy match. She's a really good player. You have to go for more, which obviously makes a few more errors.

So, yeah, I think it was overall a really good match, on both of our ends.

Q. From the final you did meet, what did you think coming into tonight as to how you would actually go about winning?
SERENA WILLIAMS: She's not someone you see in a second-round match. I know that final was a tough three-set match. She never gives up. Like she's just always fighting to come back.

So I knew that I wanted to jump out in the lead. I knew that I wanted to just be Serena. That's what I'm good at doing, is being Serena. That's what I wanted to do.

Q. I thought you played very well tonight.

Q. Do you feel like Bencic and Safarova, do you feel that you've dodged a bullet, or two bullets?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, honestly, it's not ideal. But at the end of the day, when I play players like Bencic and Safarova, they force me to play better. It forces my game from the very first day to be at a high level. So I think it's actually good.

You know, I needed something to start really fast. I'm not going to complain about it.

Q. When a match like the one before you is happening and you're waiting, do you at all get captivated with it? Did you watch any of it?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, not at all. I think being out on the tour so long, I've learned to kind of not pay attention too much. I mean, I'm the ultimate situation. I have my sister. So I've realized, not being able to watch her, with all the emotions of watching her, I'm pretty much able to watch anything and see anything happen. So I just try not to get too much involved.

Q. Everyone in this room knows you're an incredible person, have done one extraordinary thing after another. When you say 'being Serena,' what does that mean to you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: To me, it's being a champion, but not only by the way I play, but the things I do off the court as well. I know that being Serena on the court is in a way being calm, which is in my name, but always having that fire as well. I think, most of all, being confident. I should be confident 'cause there's no other Serena. I mean, I'm Serena. Maybe there is another one, but she's not in tennis.

So I think sometimes I forget. I try to be so humble that I forget I have accomplished so much. I really wanted today to just have confidence when I was out there.

Q. How important is it for you to have a kind of self-talk to yourself, Hey, Serena, be Serena?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's really important, because I've worked all my life. I worked so many years. I work hard. I work really hard to win, to lose. I think everyone out here works really, really hard.

Even if we don't win, we always come back and we always fight for a second chance, and there's always another week. I think, a lot of times, you not really realize, of all us tennis players, how hard everyone works.

I felt like, you know, I just had to realize I've been doing this for years. I mean, I should be able to do it really well.

Q. Your next opponent, Nicole Gibbs, has gained more of a voice in past years, speaking out on social issues. You've also, in recent years, become more vocal about those sort of things. How important is that to you and how does it complement being on court, being able to speak your mind, that you're bigger than tennis sometimes?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think she definitely speaks her mind a lot. I think that's really awesome. I think having that opportunity and that platform that we have, to be able to say things that we feel and speak up for social issues or things that aren't right or things that are right, good things and bad things, I think it's really important.

I really admire her for always speaking out. I think she's such a smart individual. It's so good to see her doing that.

Q. For you, personally, has it been easy? You've been in the spotlight for decades now. Has it been easy for you to gain more of a voice and be more outspoken about issues apart from tennis?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it is because of the platforms that are available now. Ten years ago these social networks weren't available, so it was a little more different, maybe more difficult, more effort to speak out.

But now you just open up your phone and you can say something or you can post something, you can shoot a video. It can reach so many people and impact so many lives by just taking 10 seconds.

Q. Is that something you enjoy, having that microphone in your pocket any time you want?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I do. I think it's not only enjoyable, but I think it's a good opportunity to most importantly stand up for social issues and things that I find important.

Q. Did it take you time for you to get to the point where you felt comfortable doing that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I really just think that time's changed drastically. One decade, the only way to get a message is through you all. Now it's so many different ways to do it.

It's just been an unbelievable change with technology.

Q. Caroline said earlier that she wished social media and everything was available when she was younger so that she could follow her idol or her hero.
SERENA WILLIAMS: That would have been really cool. I would have followed so many amazing people.

Q. Like?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I mean, every girl on tour would have followed Monica Seles, I think, for sure. I would have followed Steffi. I would have followed Zina. So many people I would have followed. Muhammad Ali, can you imagine?

Q. What would Martin Luther King be like on Twitter?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, hopefully he would be on different -- I think he would be really good on Twitter, actually (laughter). I don't know. It's crazy. It would be amazing to have had that.

But, of course, we didn't. Can you imagine? I think it would have been so, like, inspiring to see what he would say in 140 characters.

Q. Are you aware of a controversy surrounding a comment made by Doug Adler on ESPN about your sister yesterday? Is there anything you want to say about that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm not aware of it. Never heard of it. I don't know what you're talking about. Probably better not let me know (smiling).

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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