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February 9, 2018

Kathy Rinaldi

Serena Williams

Venus Williams

Coco Vandeweghe

Lauren Davis

Asheville, North Carolina


Q. Coco, coming off a good year with confidence and a good year, how can you build on the success you had?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: I like playing for my country. It's a great honor to be chosen to represent the U.S. I think that shows in my Fed Cup play, how much I really enjoy it. It really helped me last year. I had a good season, making the top 10.

Unfortunately this year wasn't the start I'd like with the flu in Australia. But there's plenty more of the season to play. Hopefully it will continue to get better.

Q. Serena, is your intention to play all three slams right now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Right now, I don't know. Right now I'm focused on this weekend and after that I'll figure out what it might be.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
LAUREN DAVIS: I played a great match there, had a good tournament. Really executed well the things I had been working on on and off the court. Really happy I've been chosen to be part of the Fed Cup team with these four amazing ladies.

I was really excited to keep the streak going.

Q. Serena, how have the last several months been, motherhood, how has that changed you? For Kathy, is there a possibility Serena could play singles on Sunday or is it just going to be the doubles?
SERENA WILLIAMS: It's been amazing. It's been an amazing journey. It's something I've never embarked on. It's probably been the most fun of my life.

It's a totally new experience. I love motherhood. I look forward to just being the best mom I can be.

KATHY RINALDI: As far as the lineup, we have the lineup set for tomorrow, then of course we'll wait and see how tomorrow goes, then we'll make our adjustments, if any.

Q. Kathy, on Wednesday, Netherlands coach had a lot of things to say about the court. How has the court improved over the last 48 hours?
KATHY RINALDI: Well, the court has improved a tremendous amount. Obviously when you come to an indoor facility, an indoor court, they have to put the court down. It's totally normal to have some spots. That's why we were putting the masking tape down.

Being here a week early also is an advantage because they have time to make those adjustments. The court has gotten better and better. With any indoor court, you're always going to have a few bounces here and there. Overall today the court played really well.

Q. Paul said it was the worst he had ever seen. Was that hyperbole?
KATHY RINALDI: I can't speak for him. Like I said, the court playing today is much better than it was the first day. He probably might have said that the first day. They've gone above and beyond to try and help us and listen to the areas that needed work, and they've made the adjustments.

Q. Serena and Venus, you're playing again for your country which you represented so many times over the years. Tell us a little bit about what it means to you, what that represents to be back here on that stage. And the pair of you are preeminent black athletes of your generation. The pride and responsibility that comes with that, and whether you have any thoughts on the protest against police brutality at the NFL and the reaction from the White House about those.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I've had the opportunity to play Fed Cup many times over the years. It's always an honor. It's always a sense of pride you take on the court besides playing for yourself. It's a completely different feeling, completely different to the circumstances.

We've tried to prepare our best every time to handle that honor and that pressure.

I think more than anything, we see ourselves as Americans, and that's what we want to be able to see ourselves as. Regardless of color, I think that's what everyone is fighting for, that one day we don't have to see that any more.

Q. Serena, why come back to this tournament, this event, instead of an individual event? What is your goal ultimately in your comeback to tennis in general? Is it 25? Something else?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Why not Fed Cup? It's a great opportunity to get, I mean, a new set of eyes on what I've been doing with Kathy. Also just hitting with different people, just seeing different balls, seeing lots of different things. I think it actually is a really perfect opportunity to try to come back.

Goals? I have long-term goals obviously. Right now my main goal is just to stay in the moment. It goes unsaid 25 is obviously something that I would love, but I'd hate to limit myself.

Q. Coco, the Olympics opening ceremony yesterday, the pride you have representing Team USA, what is it about suiting up for Team USA that brings out the best in you?
COCO VANDEWEGHE: I don't know. I've always wanted to represent my country no matter what sport I ended up playing. Tennis was the last sport I ever played, so I never thought it would be as a tennis player. I always figured it would be as a basketball player because that's what I love to do.

Just my mom being an Olympian and having that pride in the family constantly. What was it, two years now ago I got to experience it with Venus and Serena at Rio. It was really something special to walk out for opening ceremonies along with Bethanie. It was so much fun and joy.

It's kind of funny to see it relived again in the Winter Olympics, see the pride and joy representing the U.S. for all those great athletes.

Q. Venus, two days ago in practice when you were warming up with Serena, I saw you grab your right shoulder several times. Any issue with your shoulder this week?

Q. Serena, you have some very talented youngsters here with you. The future of the country is with them. Are there any other players you would point to as being in your eyes stars to watch out for the future?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think the best thing about having such a great program in the United States is our future. With us is Coco and Whitney.


SERENA WILLIAMS: A younger version (laughter).

It's exciting to see them do so well. I actually had a glance at them this morning. They were hitting indoors. They had such a great, great hit. They're super talented.

I just think there's so many players that we have in the United States, so much depth. I don't think I could name one. There's a lot of people to look out for.

Q. Serena, you've never been hesitant about speaking out on social issues, causes you believe in. What caused you to be that way? From your perspective, is it different when you're doing it when you're traditionally in an individual sport?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't think it's any different. What caused me to speak out? Just life. That's just who I am. I always believe in the greater good, in doing what's right.

I don't remember what else I was going to say, but hopefully I answered your question.

Q. Serena, obviously it's a challenge to come back physically after what you went through with the delivery. How much have you been able to get back to full scale training in the last month or so since Abu Dhabi? How do you feel about Fed Cup in general versus the Olympics and other team events that exist in tennis?
SERENA WILLIAMS: There's been a lot of ups and downs in the practice. I think that's normal for everything that I've gone through. But it also gives me another view. It's almost relaxing for me because I have nothing to prove. Again, just fighting against all odds to be out there, to be competing again.

Fed Cup is a unique thing because you get to really intimately know the players. There's dinners, so on and so forth. Olympics are pretty much the same, it's just a bigger team, both the men and women. That's fun, as well.

Q. Serena, in your comeback, in trying to get back into practice, managing those ups and downs, who have you leaned on on the tennis side of things to keep your head in the right place?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I have a great partner and relationship with Venus. She's been really, really positive. There's moments that have just been hard, getting back out there doing it every day. You have to get used to that, get in the rhythm of that.

I've been able to really rely on her for that.

Q. Venus and Serena, have either one of you been to the city before? What are your impressions now that you have?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I've never been here. But I've had a wonderful time here so far. It's a beautiful city.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, every time I would tell everyone I was coming to Asheville, they're like, Oh, my gosh, it's so beautiful. Pretty much renowned for that. It also was very exciting to hear that it was sold out for support that we have as Americans, as tennis players.

Q. Venus and Serena, Roger just won at 36 the Australian Open, number 20. How much do you take inspiration from him? He's talked about taking it from you two. What did you think of what he achieved there?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't read too much about tennis (indiscernible). Thanks, Roger.

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, Roger Federer is a really great tennis player. I think that goes unsaid. I don't know any tennis player that has not been inspired by him. I definitely have. Yeah, just trekking on, we keep doing the same thing.

Q. Kathy, talk about your role as coach, some of the things you do when you coach the very best players on the planet. What is it that you do to coach up some of the best players in the world?
KATHY RINALDI: Obviously I'm just spending the week with them. Their private coaches and teams are invited, as well. I think it's important really just to manage the team. And we have high camaraderie, everyone gets along really well, which is really important in a team atmosphere.

Also if I see some things out there, players have been great. I've known Coco for a long time, and Lauren. Of course, I've known Venus and Serena a long time. They're great.

They said if I see something, to let them know, which I try to do. Obviously not too much. It's not the time. We work a lot on strategy. That comes into play for the weekend obviously. I spend a lot of time preparing for that, as well.

Really just make sure we're prepared and that we're having a lot of fun and things are running smoothly.

Q. Venus, from your perspective, how has motherhood changed Serena?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think she's the best mother. She's unbelievable. She does everything herself. Changes as a person? She might go out a little less (laughter). But she's definitely remained very youthful and childlike at heart. Motherhood changes people in a way that they become less youthful and more serious.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Never going to grow up.

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